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Sunday, December 16, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane Gun Club to hold special meeting on proposed school land sale

Bob Thornton President of the Spokane Gun Club gives a tour on Friday, July 13, 2018, in Greenacres, Wash. Thornton has urged club members to reach a resolution on the decision on a proposed land sale to Central Valley School District, saying condemnation of the land “would be disastrous for the Club’s operations.” (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Bob Thornton President of the Spokane Gun Club gives a tour on Friday, July 13, 2018, in Greenacres, Wash. Thornton has urged club members to reach a resolution on the decision on a proposed land sale to Central Valley School District, saying condemnation of the land “would be disastrous for the Club’s operations.” (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Facing a stark choice between a costly court battle and condemnation of its property, the Spokane Gun Club will hold a special meeting on Aug. 24 to again consider selling its land to the Central Valley School District.

The move came hours after the district reiterated its intention to begin condemnation proceedings against the club’s property in Greenacres.

“Condemnation of the Club’s property would be disastrous for the Club’s operations,” club president Robert Thornton wrote to members Friday afternoon.

“Cash reserves for the Club are running dangerously low, and could result in the Club closing its doors until a final solution is made to the Club’s financial condition,” Thornton added.

However, the club will get a two-week reprieve from possible notice to seek condemnation.

On Tuesday, attorney Robert Dunn of Dunn and Black, which represents the district, had given a deadline of Friday before legal action would begin.

But in a letter Friday morning to the gun club’s attorney, William Lenz of Witherspoon Kelley, Dunn stated that that action wouldn’t commence unless the club failed to approve the sale on Aug. 24.

In that case, “The District will then formally proceed in condemning the property,” Dunn wrote.

Reached for comment Friday afternoon, school district officials had no comment.

The district intends to build a new high school on the 99-acre site, with plans for an elementary school.

Last month, a majority of gun club members voted to approve the roughly $8 million sale, which would allow the club to lease back part of the property for $10 a month until 2021.

After objections from members over some of the sale terms, the club met again on Aug. 3 to reconsider the sale. Members voted 53 to 37 for approval, which under state law is short of the two-thirds majority to sell the property.

In his letter to members, Thornton added that the club has engaged Coffman Engineers of Spokane to review potential sites for relocation, and will work with appraisal firm SVN Cornerstone to review the current appraisal.

Thornton also shot down the chances that the National Rifle Association would aid the club in the dispute, saying that the NRA “would become involved only if there was a threat to the Club’s or its members’ civil liberties and/or Second Amendment rights.”

Under condemnation, the club would still receive fair-market value for the land, but would not get other benefits offered under the pending sale agreement.

Those include the leaseback of part of the property, limited liability for environmental cleanup and costs associated with the sale.

Citing the possibility of a court battle should the sale be voted down, Thornton wrote that the club “should be prepared to front at least $200,000 in attorney and expert fees.”

“Such litigation could take between one and two years, but would come at great expense to the Club with no guarantee of a favorable result.”


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