Council narrows options for Trailhead facility
By Craig Howard
Over the past decade, Trailhead at Liberty Lake has been transformed into one of the region's more respected and utilized golf courses. The venue that serves as its flagship facility, however, has been part of a different storyline.
The city of Liberty Lake, which purchased the course and accompanying building for $2.4 million in 2002, will spend around $40,000 this year to address plumbing and restoration issues at the venerable structure that is home to a pro shop, banquet facilities and Palenque Mexican Restaurant. The total represents a significant jump from the average annual expense for previous repairs – around $5,000 from 2008 to 2013.
At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, the governing board tossed out options to patch up or remodel the existing facility, currently in need of a new roof, updated HVAC system, plumbing upgrades and improvements that would bring the building into compliance with standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While the city is currently assessing the structural stability of the deck and railing on the top floor of the building and addressing asbestos issues on the lower level, it appears the idea of a massive renovation has given way to the goal of a new facility.
"We're basically looking at a Band-Aid approach or a forward-thinking approach," said Mayor Steve Peterson. "I think the message tonight was loud and clear that we want the forward-thinking approach."
Finance Director R.J. Stevenson presented council with five options for the building, each with corresponding funding sources. After passing on the patch up/remodel alternatives, council also expressed disinterest in issuing a bond to pay for a new building. The current note on the Trailhead site has a balance of just over $600,000 and should be paid off by 2017.
Council was more agreeable to options that would generate money for an original venue through the sale of a portion of the Trailhead parcel or leasing part of the property to a developer. Both would include stipulations on land use from the city.
Council Member Hugh Severs was one of several around the dais who expressed hesitation with selling off the land, describing it as a "great asset to the city." Stevenson emphasized the city was merely trying to narrow down options for the site, not move ahead immediately with a strategy.
Council Member Dan Dunne said any plan should take into account the potential of the property.
"This location is a great opportunity for the city," Dunne said.
City Administrator Katy Allen said the city would be allotting funds over the next year to ensure that the building is "safe, compliant and operational."
STA service to Hawkstone debated
Tuesday night's meeting also included a presentation by the Spokane Transit Authority that provided another opportunity for debate.
After providing an overview of the region's public transportation system, STA CEO E. Susan Meyer and Karl Otterstrom, director of planning, fielded a barrage of questions from the governing board regarding the lack of a bus stop near the Hawkstone apartment complex, located off of Appleway in the eastern portion of the city.
Council Member Odin Langford said he was disappointed by the lack of response from STA in regard to providing contiguous service to the burgeoning residential area. The development is located just over a mile to the east of the Liberty Lake Park and Ride.
"All we heard is that it doesn't fit into your dynamics," Langford said. "We still haven't solved these people's problems."
Both Meyer and Otterstrom pointed to the challenges of navigating a turnaround in the area as well as the expense of extending a route. Meyer suggested that STA bring the city a cost analysis of adding another stop.
Peterson said it would be helpful for STA to determine the number of residents within the complex who rely on bus service. The city was awarded a grant by STA last year that provides van transportation to and from the development. The city applied for, but did not receive, a similar grant this year.
"Our job is to deliver service to our community," Peterson said.
STA is collaborating with the city on the expansion of a parking lot as part of the Town Square Park development. The agency will pay $81,000 to the city for additional spaces near the current Park and Ride.
In other city news:
· Pat Dockrey delivered an overview of the Food for Thought program, which now provides nutrition for 180 less-fortunate students in 13 local schools. The program serves as a weekend supplement to the free-and-reduced lunch program. Dockrey said organizers are hoping to rally community support through donations. A resident or business can sponsor a student for the school year for $125.
· Allen told council that construction on the Liberty Lake Ballfields will begin April 14 with completion slated for Aug. 7.
· The city sent a request for proposals regarding a solid waste management agreement last week, with seven entities responding, Allen said. In response to Spokane County taking over solid waste management from the city of Spokane, Liberty Lake is one of several cities exploring options and cost comparisons from private companies. Allen said written questions on the RFP are due by April 10, with proposals due by May 8.
· The city will collaborate with the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District on a Clean and Green collection day this Saturday, April 5, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can bring branches, leaves and other yard waste to a location near the site of the Liberty Lake Farmers Market on Meadowwood Lane.
· A municipal open house will be held at City Hall on Thursday, May 15, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.