City of Spokane Valley officials were once again beset by pleas to save the Painted Hills Golf Course at Tuesday night’s council meeting. This time around – as opposed to three weeks ago -- some interest was sparked.
However, proponents of the city owning and maintaining the nine-hole course, located just east of Dishman-Mica road on the southern edge of the city, may have to adjust their expectations. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone told the council that the city is in desperate need of park property in that portion of the city and not necessarily a golf course.
“This is a wonderful opportunity,” Stone said.
That sentiment was echoed by a pair of citizens who spoke before Stone’s report who expressed frustration at city officials’ apparently apathy toward purchasing Painted Hills, which is set to go up for public auction at the Spokane County Courthouse on Sept. 13. The owners filed for bankruptcy a year ago, and no buyers have come forward for the land, which includes a small par-3 course.
At the July 23 meeting, Don Meier told the council that the city should take control of the course as it would be a “major loss” to lose it. On Tuesday, Meier was back.
“Who do I see or what happens from here?” Meier asked. “We don’t have much time.”
City Manager Mike Jackson apologized to Meier as it is common practice for staff members to later contact citizens who raise questions during the public comment periods of council meetings.
Sylvia Passe, who also lives near the property, said the city should retain the course as a way to bring in golfers rather than having locals travel to Liberty Lake, Spokane or other areas to enjoy their links.
“I don’t understand why this body of people is willing to give this up,” Passe said. “I just think that the city will make a huge mistake if they give up on this golf course. If it’s gone, it’s not coming back.”
Stone, at least, is in agreement that the 91 acres of land has “immeasurable” potential – but maybe not as a golf course (although maintaining the par-3 portion is a possibility). There is a dearth of available park space in the city, he said, and the Painted Hills land is likely to be the last large piece of open space available to purchase. The property is comparable in size to Manito and Riverfront parks.
Rather than golf – except maybe for the popular disc variety – Stone envisions space for car shows, skateboarding, slack lines, splash pads, sand volleyball courts and more. Best of all, he added, it wouldn’t have to all be developed at once and maintenance costs would be initially low.
Council members agreed that the topic deserves further discussion and agreed to put the subject on future agendas prior to the auction.
On Monday before the meeting, Mayor Tom Towey said that a nine-hole course is a tough sell when there are so many nice 18-hole options nearby in other jurisdictions. After Stone’s presentation Tuesday, he said he is open to the idea of learning more about various options of what to do with the Painted Hills property.
“If we have more alternatives, the better off we’ll be,” he said.