The Spokesman Review reported today that County Commissioners have voted to bail out the Parks Board and pay $4.3 million to buy the downtown YMCA property. As I mentioned before, this is a terrible idea. Not only is this a poor site for Conservation Futures, it will suck up one quater of the Conservation Futures budget for 20 years if I’m reading this story correctly (!). In addition the Spokane Parks department will have to subsidize the YMCA building to the tune of $100K a year for the five years that the building will remain standing. All of this is to save $1 million dollar non-refundable amount that the Parks Board committed to the YMCA when the opted for right of first refusal to prevent the land from being sold to a developer that wanted to build a condo tower. This is all kinds of wrong. I cannot believe with city budget strapped the way it is that taxpayers will be subsidizing this boondoggle. What Conservation Futures properties will be lost because of YMCA property sucking up all this money? Kudos to commssioner Bonnie Mager for voting against the bailout.The only winner in situation may be the YMCA. They will receive much-needed cash to help construct their new downtown building. And you what? They deserve every penny. They did everything right in trying to sell the property. The offered it to the Park Board year’s ago but were turned down. They tried to work with the city.
One interesting thing about the Review article mentioned above is that Commissioner Mielke reveals his true disdain for the popular Conservation Futures program. Quoth Mielke: “Do we want 1,000 acres used by 30 hikers a year or one acre used by 3 million people?” I guess that means the Commissioner feels that a reclaimed parking lot is more important that wildlife habitat or open space. If that’s the case I couldn’t agree with you less Mr. Commissioner.