A maintenance center for city vehicles may find a welcome home in east Spokane someday, possibly because city officials learned from past mistakes.
Tonight, the City Council will consider spending $5 million to buy the former Long Lake Lumber Co. site at 2306 E. Mallon.
If the council approves the proposal, the land eventually would be used as a central location for fixing and storing the city’s fleet of snowplows, garbage haulers and police cars.
But city officials don’t know how they’ll pay for construction, which carries an estimated price tag of $32 million.
Interest in the property next to the Garry Park neighborhood is a sharp turnaround from a year ago, when city officials seemed bent on a maintenance center in the Logan area.
Logan residents fought the plan, saying their neighborhood had been left out of the planning and already was choking from heavy traffic on Hamilton. The facility was proposed for 26 acres at Hamilton and North Foothills.
Last October, council members shifted their focus to the Long Lake Lumber site after the city’s community assembly ranked it at the top of eight possible locations for the maintenance center. The assembly - made up of representatives from seven neighborhood councils - ranked Logan at the bottom.
At the time, council members agreed to put $50,000 down on the 37.5-acre lumber yard for an option to buy.
Since then, city officials have been meeting with Garry Park residents to talk about the plan and ways to make it fit the neighborhood.
Officials “brought the neighborhood in from the very beginning,” said Roger Flint, the city’s director of general services.
“This is probably the first time the city of Spokane opened its doors,” said Walt Shields, chairman of a neighborhood subcommittee studying the proposal. “They invited us to negotiate with department heads and the architects. We turned down several proposals until we got some we could accept.”
Shields said the majority of the 10-member committee supports the plan, but some members are skeptical that officials may not keep their promises.
Jeanette Harras of the Logan area said she thinks her neighborhood helped force the city to be more responsive to residents’ concerns.
“There’s always somebody who has to be the bad guy,” Harras said. “It’s unfortunate that we had to get their attention to do something more positive.”
She also credits the community assembly with making the council reconsider the maintenance center location.
The Solid Waste Management Department would pull $3.4 million from reserves to pay for the property, with the Parks and Recreation Department kicking in the balance of $1.6 million, Flint said.
There’s no specific plan for how the money might be repaid to Solid Waste reserves, but it might be repaid by departments using the maintenance center.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Meeting A briefing for the council will start at 3:30 p.m. today in the lower-level conference room of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.