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Spin Control

Posts tagged: YMCA

The topsy-turvy politics of Conservation Futures and the YMCA

Spokane park leaders figured in November that the debate about the vacant downtown YMCA was about to end.

After all, the financial analysis demanded by City Council had just been released. It recommended accepting Spokane County’s offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to pay off the city’s debt on the building. Councilman Mike Allen said the analysis had persuaded him to support the Park Board’s request to use the money, and Councilman Al French even sponsored the proposal for a council vote.

But opponents of spending Conservation Futures money on the Y successfully delayed action until Allen was replaced on the council by Jon Snyder, and French ended up siding against the resolution he sponsored.

That vote in late November sent the decision into extra innings, and city leaders decided to solicit bids on the property.

Park Board members never expressed much worry about the process. They said their work on the building over the years pointed to a bid process that would result in no proposals that would guarantee full repayment of the city’s debt. That guess turned out to be correct.

The question for supporters of securing the YMCA was finding a fourth vote.

Direction on YMCA becoming more uncertain

(First, because it’s not from our newspaper archives, I should start with information about the photo: It shows the Howard Street bridge and Havermale and Canada islands, sometime before 1927. There is vacant land southwest of the bridge where the downtown YMCA would be built in the mid-1960s. Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane.)

It looks like March 22 will be the date the public will get to weigh in on the future of the Riverfront Park YMCA.

City Council President Joe Shogan announced that a public hearing will be scheduled for that date, though he added it could be delayed until March 29.

Councilman Steve Corker, who said earlier this week that it appeared that a majority of the council did not support the acceptance of Spokane County’s offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to acquire the Riverfront Park YMCA, now says an outcome is unclear.

Council changed mind on Conservation Futures for Riverfront Park

First the Spokane City Council supported Conservation Futures, then it didn’t.

At the start of Monday, a majority of the Spokane City Council leaned in favor of accepting Spokane County’s offer to purchase the Riverfront Park YMCA, according to an e-mail Councilman Steve Corker sent to a constituent.

By the end of the day, however, the majority was lost.

So what happened?

It appears Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley successfully convinced at least one council member at a Monday meeting about the Y that a “third option” for paying off the city’s $4.4 million debt was better than using county Conservation Futures property taxes or development proposals that the city received late last month.

That third option isn’t yet defined, but, Cooley said, it could include higher hotel taxes, selling off park land or asking voters for more property taxes. He also reminded council members that the city once had a business and occupation tax to help pay for Expo ’74 improvements.

Responding to an e-mail from constituent Dawn Holladay, Councilman Steve Corker wrote on Monday afternoon: “I am in favor of using Conservation Futures monies for this site. I plan on voting the same this evening.”

(Not that the City Council could have voted for anything at the YMCA meeting because it was scheduled only for discussion.)

After Cooley’s presentation at the meeting, Corker appeared to have changed his mind.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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