Mayor Tom Towey enthusiastically endorsed buying the bankrupt Painted Hills Golf Course during Tuesday’s council meeting – a week after offering lukewarm support for the idea.
“This is a piece of land we’ll not see again,” Towey said.
The property is scheduled to be sold in a trustee’s sale Sept. 13 to satisfy debts. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone said the city’s master parks plan indicates a need for more park property in the Painted Hills area. The city’s current park property is not enough to meet current or future needs of the city, Stone said.
Acquiring the 91-acre property would provide “numerous opportunities” for citizens, Stone said. It would be similar in size to Manito Park or Riverfront Park, he said. “It is likely the last available large piece of property in our city,” he said.
The site could be used for a farmers market, car shows, playgrounds and more. “We can do cross-country skiing in the winter,” he said. The city could even keep the driving range and a portion of the par-3 course, he said. A park that large would be a regional draw.
The site wouldn’t need to be developed right away and would require a minimal cost to maintain, Stone said. “This is a wonderful opportunity that our city is facing,” he said.
The council was noncommittal in its discussion but agreed to have city staff gather more information. Council member Ben Wick recused himself from the discussion. He is related to Ty Wick, general manager of Spokane County Water District 3, which is owed money by the golf course owners.
“I would like to have a further discussion on it,” said Councilman Dean Grafos. “I do believe it’s an opportunity to the city. I think we should at least look at it.”
City Manager Mike Jackson said his staff would look into possible uses for the property, how to develop it and how much it would cost to maintain it as a golf course.
In other business, four street preservation projects planned for this summer are being postposed until springs. The projects are Argonne Road from Sprague Avenue to Broadway Avenue and three sections of Sprague – Herald to University roads, Havana Street to Fancier Road (eastbound only) and Fancher to Thierman roads.
There were delays in the right-of-way phase and also because of the federal grant dollars involved in the project, said Public Works Director Eric Guth. The city just received approval to move forward with construction, but the bid phase on a federal project is about eight weeks, Guth said. That would push the project, which includes paving at night, into October. “It really does not lend itself to paving,” he said.
The project will go out to bid this fall but construction will not begin until the spring, Guth said. “My pat answer is May 1, but it’s weather dependent,” he said.