The city of Spokane has four. Spokane County has three. Even Liberty Lake has one.
Now, with an impending trustee’s sale, there’s a movement brewing for the city of Spokane Valley to have its very own golf course.
The owners of Painted Hills Golf Course, IWILL70 Properties LLC, filed for bankruptcy in August 2012. The company purchased the nine-hole course, located just east of Dishman-Mica Road on the southern edge of the city, in 2006.
While the property had been up for sale for some time, it is set to go up for public auction at Spokane County Courthouse on Sept. 13. What happens then is anybody’s guess: The new owner could continue to operate the land as a golf course or a new developer could have different ideas.
“We have no idea what is going to happen with a new owner,” said Don Meier, a longtime city resident, who spoke before the City Council on Tuesday.
Meier said he recognizes that the golf course is part of the Chester Creek floodplain. Ongoing maintenance would continue to be an issue for whoever owns the golf course, which includes a small par-3 course next to the main one.
However, Meier said that the golf course makes more sense in municipal hands than private ones, as those are primarily private country clubs, have high greens fees or exclusive memberships.
“Private courses are very limited anymore,” he said. “We need to preserve it. If it goes away, we might not get another opportunity in the Valley for golfers. It would be major loss to lose it.”
Gerald Snow, another resident in the area, said a city-owned golf course could be a boon for attracting new businesses. He added that it should be a higher priority than a new city hall (see story in this issue).
“Yes, you need a city hall,” Snow said. “But you also need recreational opportunities.”
Since the topic was not on Tuesday’s formal agenda, city officials or council members did not comment on the issue of Painted Hills at Tuesday’s meeting. Funding for such a purchase would either have to be identified in the budget or elsewhere. And then the city financial officers would have to figure out a way to pay for the ongoing maintenance and operating expenses of the golf course.
There is also the question of using public dollars to pay for what could have gone into the hands of a private business. When Spokane County purchased Spokane Raceway Park at a public auction in 2008 for $4.5 million, county officials did so by outbidding a Deer Park businessman.