Chilco Falls is on the verge of becoming public property again.
Kootenai County commissioners have offered to swap 40 acres near Powderhorn Bay to developers for the 12.7 acres containing the falls.
Attorney Malcom Dymkoski, who represents developers Charles Tramner and Larry Gilman, said Monday that the parties are “pretty close to agreeing. We’re within handshaking distance.”
Tramner and Gilman obtained that Chilco land last fall as part of a legal settlement with the county. When neighbors objected to the loss of recreational land, the commission began looking for other property that the developers might accept.
David Haman, who owns 160 acres to the north, was pleased to hear Monday that the swap is imminent.
“That’s good,” Haman said. “In the long-term, it’s probably the smartest thing to do. I’d like to see a larger park established there.”
The wooded ridge with the waterfall on Chilco Creek was donated to the state in 1914 by developer C.S. Argo. He stipulated that the land must be open to the public “forever.” It eventually became county property.
Lack of official public access has kept it from being developed as a park. But people in the northern part of the county still use it for horseback riding and picnicking. It’s a popular ice-climbing area when the falls freeze.
The 40 acres above Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Powderhorn Bay have been on the county’s list of surplus property. The county logged the land about five years ago, said commissioner Ron Rankin.
It’s far too steep to subdivide into 5-acre home sites, said Tramner.
“My partner thought we could get two buildings there, but I only see one building,” he said.
The developers also will return to the county two smaller parcels as part of the swap, Rankin said. One is a small gravel pit. The other is a road right of way that actually belongs to the Lakes Highway District.
Property values for the various parcels aren’t yet available for comparison.
Rankin expects the land swap to be final within a few weeks.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Chilco Falls area