Voices

Fire commissioners want contractor to leave

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is charging Morgen and Oswood Construction of Great Falls $50 a day rent for failing to vacate an empty lot at Barker Road and Euclid Avenue. (J. Bart Rayniak)
The Spokane Valley Fire Department is charging Morgen and Oswood Construction of Great Falls $50 a day rent for failing to vacate an empty lot at Barker Road and Euclid Avenue. (J. Bart Rayniak)

Firm used land during Barker Bridge project

Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioners want to ramp up efforts to evict a contractor that has been storing equipment on land the department owns at Barker Road and Euclid Avenue for years.

The department allowed Morgen and Oswood Construction of Great Falls to use the site rent free during construction of the Barker Bridge on the condition that the land would be cleaned up and planted with native grasses to avoid an explosion of noxious weeds on the site. The contractor was supposed to be gone by March 31.

During Monday’s commissioner meeting Deputy Chief Larry Rider said he asked the company earlier this month to be moved out by April 18 and to pay $50 a day during the month of April. “They never have really agreed to our agreement,” he said. “They aren’t going to be gone by the 18th. They don’t return my phone calls.”

The commissioners decided to up the ante and have the company pay $100 a day after Monday up to a maximum of 10 extra days. At that time the commissioners will consider other options.

Commissioner Kolby Hanson questioned whether the department could just haul stuff away. “When does it become abandoned property?” he said.

Rider said that while the company hasn’t been in contact with him, they have removed some items. “They are moving,” he said. “They’re just not moving very fast.”

The department is in discussions with its attorney, said Chief Mike Thompson. “We’ll look at and explore all reasonable things we can to pursue this,” he said.

There is some urgency to the matter because the site is unimproved and has no irrigation system. Native grass cannot be planted later in the season and the department would be left with a weed-choked lot it would have to pay to spray and mow. “It’s just not going to grow if it’s not in by the end of April,” Rider said.

On Tuesday Morgen and Oswood president Greg Oswood said the news of the commissioner’s decision caught him off guard. “I’m not even aware of that,” he said. Oswood said his understanding was that his company had been leasing the property for $3,500 a year and had until July 1 to clean up the land.

“We’ve been moving, but the weather has been bad,” he said. “My understanding was that we had secured an extension until the end of June.”

“Absolutely not,” said Thompson. The construction company has never paid any rent for the land and the department did not agree to let them stay through June, he said. “Their lease expired. They need to go.”



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