Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner is offering a possible solution to financing for preserving some desirable property in south Spokane.
The future of the 48-acre Pilcher property, located between Latah Creek and the bottom of High Drive Bluff Park, has been up in the air for a couple years.
In 2019, the owner received a preliminary plat approval for 94 residential lots.
At the same time, he let the land be nominated as a possible Spokane County Conservation Futures property. Those are open space, waterways, and other natural resources purchased by the county through money collected in a property tax levy.
But money in that program has already been used to purchase other properties in recent years, and no funding is currently available for the Pilcher property.
Tuesday, Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner said there could be money made available through the Spokane Public Investment Fund which offers local direct investments to the government entities that it invests for:
"In the past we've used it to put Etter farms, an area out in the Spokane valley into conservation," Baumgartner said. "Last year, the Bigelow Gulch road project had some federal money coming in, and by my office making a local loan to County Roads department, we were able to bring that project forward.”
Baumgartner says a local public entity would have to step forward and borrow the money, similar to how the county public works department took out a loan for the Etter farm property.
Last year, the county Parks Department wrapped up a round of Conservation Futures grants and plans to open a new round in May, after it gets the County Commissioners’ approval.
The city has also showed some interest, when it purchased a right of first refusal to match any offer to sell the property, but that expired in December 2019. Last year, the City Council made it a Tier 1 priority on its legislative agenda.