Whitworth College and Spokane County can’t agree on the value of North Side real estate.
County officials offered to pay $12,000 for a parcel of land owned by the college on which they want to build a sewer pump station.
But rather than accept cash payment for the property, Whitworth officials want the county to offset its sewer hookup fees - which are expected to run $150,000.
The disagreement could delay construction of the Gleneden sewer interceptor by up to two months if the county has to redesign the sewer line without Whitworth, sewer project manager Dean Fowler said.
“They’re taking us to task,” Fowler said. “They’re trying to apply an even higher value to the land than to the land in the neighboring subdivision.”
But Fowler says the land - about the size of an average house lot - which is under Bonneville Power Administration electrical lines, has next to no value. No public facility, even a parking lot, can be built under the lines, he said.
The county also is seeking easements to lay the pipeline along the east side of the Whitworth campus.
Whitworth Vice President Tom Johnson said the county can’t expect the college to jump at its offer without having the land appraised.
“There’s a difference of opinion,” Johnson said.
“We asked for an exchange, an offset, for the general facilities charge and the legal fees.”
But Fowler said the college isn’t appreciating how much building a sewer costs.
“We don’t charge these fees just to make a profit,” Fowler said. “That’s money that goes to our general fund to pay for the work that needs to be done.”
And, he said, if the sewer is constructed on the campus, then Whitworth won’t have to spend money building sewer lines to the county’s pump station.
Johnson, who along with one of the college’s trustees met with the county Monday, said he has not had time to pursue an appraisal.
“Like anyone else, we would prefer that the county constructed the sewer somewhere else,” he said. “We’ve indicated that we’re not here to be an obstacle.”
The private college has been advised by the state Department of Ecology to hook up to a county sewer line as soon as possible. Whitworth’s aging sewage lagoons have at times been the source of smell that raised complaints from neighbors in the Brentwood Forest neighborhood.
A year ago, the state wanted Whitworth to build a line to the Fairwood sewer which runs along its west border. But the college asked to wait and see if it could more easily connect to the Gleneden sewer line, said Andy Tom of the Department of Ecology.