Despite fears from at least one council member that the city could be heading down the slippery slope to a larger labor force, Spokane Valley officials gained traction Tuesday on purchasing a shop to house city snow-plowing equipment.
Council members agreed at Tuesday’s council study session to hold at least one more executive session – where the public is not allowed to listen in – to go over numbers and particulars for a potential land acquisition at 17002 E. Euclid. But the mood was generally positive to buying the 3-acre parcel while the real estate market is still favorable purchasers.
“My recommendation is that we ought to pursue it,” said Council Member Bill Gothmann.
As recently as two months ago, Neil Kersten, the city’s public works director, had championed buying for $578,850 the 1.6 acres the city is currently leasing at 11804 E. First for the storage of its snow-removal fleet. The property is owned by Waste Management, and two adjacent parcels owned by the Central Valley School District are also available for future expansion for a total of 2.09 acres that could be had for $743,000.
While the location is only yards away from Spokane Valley City Hall behind the Spokane Valley Post Office, the overall condition of the structures has been deemed “poor” and would need renovating. There are also no paved areas.
Still, Kersten said in November that the city “doesn’t have a lot of money” for land acquisition and the First Street location would be easy on the city’s pocketbook. That’s why another location at 17711 E. Euclid was deemed second best. While there is over five acres of property available at that location, Kersten said the lack of sewer service was also a negative. But the biggest drawback was the $990,000 asking price.
However, it wasn’t too long afterward that the parcel up the road at 17002 E. Euclid became available. With 900 square feet of office space, it’s right size for the city, and the 4,500 feet of shop area is also what the city could make use of for its plows and sanders.
The property has been appraised for $760,000, Kersten said, and the seller is asking for $750,000 – which fits in the city’s budget. Even better, it sits on a railroad spur that could be made available to bring road salts and chemical-deicers right to the city’s door rather than being trucked in.
“At this point I’d recommend that we buy that property,” Kersten said, adding that the office space was newer and in quality condition. “It’s well built and in good shape.
Space could also be used for the city’s vactoring operations – the cleaning of city drywells – which is currently contracted out to AAA Sweeping for $200,000 a year.
That plan raised a red flag for Council Member Dean Grafos, who said that he didn’t want the city taking on too many additional responsibilities that it currently hires the private sector to perform.
“The snowplowing operation is one thing,” he said. “But I don’t want to see the city start this huge department at that location. I’d hate to see us go in that direction.”
Kersten said the vactoring operation – which would involve the drying out of debris before it could be permanently disposed of -- is the “only function” he would consider adding to that spot.
City Manager Mike Jackson also pointed out that any additional departments or operations by the city would have to be approved by the council.
“It sounds to me like a done deal,” Gothmann said.