August 29, 2013 in Washington Voices

Painted Hills purchase still being considered

Bankrupt golf course could be converted to park
By The Spokesman-Review
Map of this story's location
Kudos to Sal

Mayor Tom Towey presented his monthly Community Recognition Award on Tuesday to longtime Spokane Valley activist and community volunteer Sally Jackson for her work with young people. Jackson has been a longtime baseball and softball coach and has offered swimming lessons in her backyard pool for decades.

“What an impact she has had on our youth,” said Councilman Chuck Hafner, who said he carpooled with Jackson to classes at Eastern Washington University long ago. “Can you imagine teaching 400 kids to swim every summer?”

In accepting the award, Jackson cracked jokes that had the large crowd laughing, and spoke of her love for her hometown.

“I love this Valley so much,” she said. “Life should be an adventure. It’s been a great ride.”

Jackson was given a standing ovation after accepting a ceremonial key to the city.

Spokane Valley City Council members were tight-lipped about their intentions Tuesday after hearing a short presentation on the possible purchase of the Painted Hills Golf Course. It will be sold in a trustee’s auction next month because its owners filed for bankruptcy.

The council agreed, however, to vote next week on whether to send City Manager Mike Jackson to the auction with the city’s checkbook in hand.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone said it would cost the city about $150,000 a year for minimal maintenance on the 91-acre site. That would include weekly mowing of the driving range and the short par-3 course and only monthly mowing of the rest of the site. Fully maintaining it as a golf course would cost nearly half a million dollars a year, Stone said.

Right now only portions of the course are being watered and there are a lot of brown areas, Stone said. “There hasn’t been a lot of care given to it this year and that’s disappointing.”

The course could be converted to a community park, Stone said.

“It could accommodate a wide variety of activities and features,” he said.

Stone said he doesn’t have the staff or the expertise to run a golf course. If the council is interested in running it as a golf course Stone said he recommends leasing it out.

Councilman Ben Wick again recused himself from the meeting during the presentation. He is related to Ty Wick, general manager of Spokane County Water District 3, which is owed money by the property owners.

In other business, the council agreed to forward a set of goals and priorities to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee for the committee to use when determining funding awards later this fall.

The goals emphasize that the council wants all allowed funding requests to be considered, including those for the marketing and operation of festivals as well as capital projects in tourism facilities. The final goal stipulates that “programs, projects or events should have the goal of becoming operationally self-sustaining in the future.”

Councilman Arne Woodard said he wondered about the fate of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.

“How would the museum here in the Valley fit into this?” he said.

Finance director Mark Calhoun said the museum’s annual historical event could fall under either operations of special events or the operation of tourism-related facilities owned by a nonprofit organization.

“I just wanted to make sure the organizations that have applied in the past still have an avenue,” Woodard said.

The council voted unanimously to award a contract for the expansion of Sullivan Park to AM Landshaper for $165,000. The city is required to do the project as mitigation for the upcoming Sullivan Bridge replacement project, said Steve Worley, senior capital projects engineer.

Much of the current Sullivan Park will be used as a contractor staging area during the bridge project but the public must still have park access.

The expansion project, which should be completed this fall, will essentially double the size of the park. A new picnic shelter will be added and irrigation put in.

When the bridge construction is complete, the area used as a staging area will be restored, leaving the public with a larger park on the bluff above the Spokane River.

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