Spokane County is about to force one of the biggest developers around to pave a strip of gravel outside the Liberty Lake post office.
Harlan Douglass, who owns the post office building at 1423 N. Molter, refused to help pay for the work last summer, when Molter was widened and improved.
As a result, there’s a 50-yard gap in Molter’s fresh pavement.
“We just paved around it!” said an incredulous county Commissioner Kate McCaslin, who looked into the matter after fielding complaints from postal workers. She wasn’t yet in office when work was done with a mix of county and private money.
Concrete barriers force southbound cars into the center lane to prevent them from dropping off the asphalt onto the pockmarked gravel section.
Douglass did not return telephone messages Thursday.
County engineer Bill Johns said that when Douglass built the post office, he signed an agreement promising to help pay for any future improvements on Molter.
“I am furious that Harlan Douglass has reneged on this agreement,” McCaslin said during a briefing Tuesday. “This guy has a contract and he ought to live up to it. … He ought to perform.”
“You’re right. You’re absolutely right,” said Commissioner John Roskelley.
McCaslin first suggested taking Douglass to court. But at Johns’ suggestion, commissioners dropped that idea and decided instead to form a road improvement district.
Normally, such districts include tens - or even hundreds - of property owners. This RID will include just one: Douglass. Johns said that since Douglass signed the agreement to improve the road, he’ll have no grounds to battle the RID.
“I’m 99 percent sure of that,” Johns told commissioners.
Better known on the North Side than in the Valley, Douglass was one of the county’s biggest individual taxpayers, based on 1994 tax records. His buildings house families, restaurants, hotels, hardware stores and 50 post offices in four states.