You may remember the intense discussion we had about the YMCA sale to Spokane Parks for a STEEP $4.5 million. If not read here. It’s a terrible idea. And I’m not the only one that feels this way. Check out Barb Chamberlain’s thoughts here.

I wrote an editorial strongly opposed to this sale. The whole things is wrong-headed and expensive and will cost us better conservation opportunities. Whatever your feelings your can voice them tonight:

The Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing to consider public input regarding this opportunity. That hearing will be held on October 28, 2008, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room in the lower level of the Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Avenue. The public is encouraged to attend.

ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, EVERY CITIZEN OF SPOKANE CAN

HELP MAKE A LARGE ADDITION TO RIVERFRONT PARK A REALITY

Public Hearing to be held by Spokane County Commission –

It’s a matter of commercial use and condos, or

more green space for Riverfront Park

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The YMCA Building just south of the Howard Street bridge sits on an island of land inside Riverfront Park. The Parks Department owns the parking lots and all the land surrounding the building. The Department would like to acquire the building so that it can be demolished and the entire site returned to its native state as part of Riverfront Park. The Park Board has already put down $1 million to purchase the property. An additional $4.3 million is needed to acquire the building.

The property has been submitted as an unforeseen opportunity for the Spokane County Conservation Futures program. The Spokane Park Board considers this a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a prime piece of downtown property along the river to preserve it for the benefit of all citizens.

The Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing to consider public input regarding this opportunity. That hearing will be held on October 28, 2008, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room in the lower level of the Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Avenue. The public is encouraged to attend.

About Conservation Futures

In 1971 the Washington State Legislature enacted RCW 84.34.200 “Conservation Futures Enabling Legislation” recognizing that haphazard growth and urban development was encroaching upon the state’s open areas and spaces. Productive lands, like agricultural and forestry areas were being altered, or even eliminated by continued urban expansion. Scenic, recreational and aesthetic lands were also at risk.

In 1994, Spokane County Commissioners adopted the Conservation Futures program for 3 years to protect threatened areas of open space, timberlands, wetlands, wildlife habitat, agricultural and farm lands, streams and water supplies within the county boundaries. In 1997, citizens voted to support the continuation of the program for an additional 5 years. When the Conservation Futures program was on the ballot in 2002, Spokane County voters again supported a second 5-year extension of the program implemented by the Board of County Commissioners. Most recently, in November 2007, the Conservation Futures Program was put on an advisory ballot and this time for renewal with no sunset date. Spokane County voters again supported extending the program with a super-majority of nearly 63% percent of voters supporting the measure.

What is Conservation Futures?

The 1994 adoption of the Spokane County Conservation Futures program began with a property tax assessed for each home in the county. This (up-to) 6-cent tax is levied per $1000 of property value, subject to the levy-lid of 1% per year; a home assessed at $100,000 would generate a tax of $6.00 at this levy rate. This tax money is earmarked solely for the acquisition of property and development rights. These funds acquire lands or future development rights on lands for public use and enjoyment. In 2005, state legislation recognized the need to allow monies for maintenance and operations of the Conservation Futures properties. Fifteen percent of the Conservation Futures money is used toward maintaining, protecting and enhancing the property over the long-term.

The Conservation Areas, the term used in Spokane County, defines areas of undeveloped land primarily left in its natural condition. These areas may be used for passive recreational purposes, to create secluded areas, or as buffers in urban areas. As of 2008, the Conservation Futures Program holds 4,525 acres on 22 different properties. The City of Spokane owns and manages 10 of these properties. These conserved lands include wetlands, farmlands, steep hillsides, river corridors, viewpoints and wildlife habitats and corridors.

About Spokane Parks and Recreation

City of Spokane Parks and Recreation is responsible for the professional management and prudent caretaking of more than 4,100 acres of developed parks and conservation land. The Golf Division maintains and operates four championship municipal golf courses, including Indian Canyon, Downriver, Esmeralda and the Creek at Qualchan. Park Operations has responsibility for the maintenance of all park land and park facilities in the City of Spokane including Riverfront Park, Manito Park, Gaiser Conservatory and the many city-wide gardens, Finch Arboretum and the Urban Forestry Program. The Recreation/Entertainment Division offers classes, special events, athletic leagues and activities for youth, teens, adults, seniors and persons with physical and mental disabilities. It also operates Riverfront Park attractions, activities and events including the Spokane Falls SkyRide, the Looff Carrousel and IMAX Theatre, and provides support for community centers, senior centers, the Northeast Youth Center, Corbin Art Center and outdoor swimming pools. For more information please visit www.spokaneparks.org.

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