Local news

County to consider park, water bargain

Deal with developer finishes transaction that began in 2009

Spokane County commissioners may buy 110 acres of Liberty Lake parkland Tuesday at a steep discount and get a needed water line in the bargain.

The water line alone might cost about $1 million, according to county officials, but developer Jim Frank is offering both for $400,000.

The line would serve the county’s Liberty Lake Regional Park.

County officials would pay for the new land with money set aside to correct a longstanding water shortage at their nearby Liberty Lake park.

“We’re pretty excited about the acquisition, as are many in the community who are pleased to see the watershed further protected,” Parks Director Doug Chase said.

The new parkland, to be called MacKenzie Reserve, would provide “passive recreation” as though it were part of the county’s Conservation Futures program, Chase said.

He said the deal would close by July 31 and the water line could be in place by the end of the year if commissioners accept the offer Tuesday.

MacKenzie Reserve would be uphill from the 10-lot MacKenzie Beach project Frank is developing on land owned by the family of Spokane cattleman Roderick MacKenzie since the early 1890s.

The project is intended to provide some money for MacKenzie’s heirs while preserving most of the land as open space, Frank said in 2007 when he approached the county Parks Department.

In 2009, the county traded unused road right of way for about two acres, including 87 feet of beach access. Next week’s action would complete the two-part land deal.

Chase said an appraisal is expected to indicate the 110 acres are worth “significantly” more than $400,000, but Frank will donate any value in excess of that amount.

In exchange, the county must agree to keep the land in park or open-space use and to allow construction of a mutually needed water reservoir.

A 2004 county-commissioned study concluded a long-term solution to Liberty Lake Regional Park’s chronic lack of water would cost $431,332 to $1.2 million. Chase told county commissioners this week that his staff had been working on a less-expensive solution, but couldn’t get state Department of Ecology approval.

The park has been getting water from a local homeowners association water system, but not enough is available for irrigation needs. The new water main would provide a steady supply from the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water district.

It would serve several residences as well as the park.

The 110 acres to be purchased by the county would adjoin the two acres previously acquired from Frank’s project, but would be separated from Liberty Lake Regional Park by the privately owned Zephyr Lodge.



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