trailhead golf course candidate question

Candidate Question: Trailhead Renovations and Adjacent Land Use

in Candidate Corner/Candidate Questions/Featured/Government and Politics

The Liberty Lake Gazette asked all 10 candidates the following question at the same time via email. The candidate responses are in the order they replied. Click on a candidate name to view their full profile.

This question came from a Liberty Lake Gazette reader.

With the “recent” purchase of new city property on Legacy Ridge… what are the options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility. What is your best option?

Annie Kurtz campaign photo
Annie Kurtz

My understanding is that when the City invested in the property near Legacy Ridge, the goal was to have the cost of the property reimbursed by a grant. In order to receive this grant the City needed to secure an easement to connect the Saltese Uplands Conservation Area trail to Liberty Lake. The City has not secured the easement over the past four years and the land is currently unused.

I believe it is not financially feasible for the City to independently invest in locating part of Trailhead (the pro shop/restaurant) on the acquired property for the following reasons:

  1. The land is extremely steep in areas near the entrance to the golf course and would be difficult to build on due to the grade and rock in the land;
  2. Significant expense in rock blasting would be necessary to install infrastructure (power, sewer, water, cable, gas, roads, streetlights, etc.);
  3. The property in question is across a major thoroughfare to the lake community. An investment in access from one side of N Liberty Lake Road to the other for golf would be necessary yet potentially cumbersome for those who use the course.
  4. The City would need to evaluate right of way issues, possible relocation of infrastructure and roads, traffic/pedestrian/golf cart safety, etc.

These are all challenges that could be overcome with other sources of income and other innovative ideas from stakeholders and community members.

The land west of N Liberty Lake Road was purchased for use as a nature area. With that in mind, it seems contrary to this purpose to consider it for development especially given the challenges outlined above. That leads me back to the Trailhead facility remaining approximately where it is today.

My first question would be—does the community continue to want Trailhead Golf Course?

If the City has actively engaged the residents of Liberty Lake, and the answer is yes, then we need to discuss renovation vs. a new building. If the answer is no, or if the City has not engaged residents in this process, we have a whole different path to go down.

As I understand it, renovation of the existing facility is approaching the cost of a new building. With that in mind, it makes more sense to me to build a new building. Building new will allow for a facility that will have a longer useful life than a retrofitted building, more innovation in design and use, a focus on green energy, and potentially a more dynamic entrance into the City. I would suggest the following:

  1. The City actively engage residents in discussing how the Trailhead facility can become a multi use facility that not only meets the golf course needs, but adds another valuable space for the community.
    1. The opportunity exists for local engineers, architects, builders, etc. to not only provide input but also potentially bid and build in their local community.
  2. The City evaluate if the Pro Shop footprint can be smaller and focused on golf. If space allows, perhaps a third party would consider building valuable retail space overlooking the golf course. This would potentially lessen the City’s expenditures.

The second part of this question is what to do with the land purchased by the City and I believe we have two options if the land isn’t used as part of the Trailhead Golf Course:

  1. Actively engage residents in what they would like to see done with the area as a natural area or park. This work could be done by the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission.
    1. There are a number of ways to honor the natural beauty of the land without development by letting the land be committed green space in the City.
    2. The area could be lightly developed for rock climbing, ropes courses, disc golf, hiking trails, a dog park, mountain bike paths, or other outdoor activities that match community interests.
    3. The Trailhead name could become more than just the golf course, but rather a host of recreational opportunities that are all centrally located in the Trailhead area.
    4. Perhaps there are other grants that could be secured if the use of the land is designated for recreation.
    5. A “R” could be added to the hill in honor of Ridgeline High School.
  2. Sell the land.
    1. As a caution, if the land is sold to a third party, the City and residents lose some of the control over the area and how it is developed.
    2. As residents continue to be concerned about overdevelopment, and infrastructure issues—any development with density in this area will add congestion unless the infrastructure is invested in prior to build out.

The question was what are options, and “what is [my] best option.” My best option is to actively engage the community. We need to take the time to really hear and understand what the community would like to do not only with Trailhead, but also the undeveloped land near it. Only after listening, will we have ideas and solutions that are a true reflection of our community to pursue.

With the “recent” purchase of new city property on Legacy Ridge… what are the options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility. What is your best option?

Phil Folyer campaign photo
Phil Folyer

This topic is 1 of many reasons I decided to run for council. The best option is one that serves the city and its residents to the maximum potential. This discussion needs to have city wide dialogue with ALL options on the table. This discussion should be approached similar to a business that is looking for long term success with its investment. After all options have been explored, workshop discussions and ideas shared, 7 city council members will determine the best direction for Trailhead and the 22 acres bordering Legacy Ridge. As a 14-year business owner with 30 years’ experience in construction and a 19 year resident, I believe I am very well qualified to be 1 of the 7 voices representing you. I believe having an open mind to explore all options and thinking outside the box will be very much needed during this time, both of which I am willing to offer. Smart investing in this long-term asset will be my goal regarding the Trailhead discussion. I’d wager this decision will impact our city for next 40+ years pertaining to revenue & budgeting. I ask for your vote so that I can bring my experience & background to the table for the benefit of the city regarding such an important improvement. Thank you!
Phil Folyer for city council position 1.

With the “recent” purchase of new city property on Legacy Ridge… what are the options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility. What is your best option?

Holly Woodruff campaign photo
Holly Woodruff

Thank you for asking this. I see this as two separate questions – what are the options for the property east of Legacy Ridge, and what are the options for the future of the Trailhead clubhouse?

I remember City Council discussing the property some time ago during a discussion/workshop about Trailhead. I don’t see how this property could be used for a part of the Trailhead golf course. If the city were to do something with the property, I could see it possibly being a putt-putt golf course, a rare amenity in the Spokane area. The best bet for that property might be for the city to sell it and put the money received from the sale toward the Trailhead facility. The costs for the city to develop that land may be excessive. Selling it would also put the property back on the tax rolls.

I don’t play golf, so I’m not an expert on what is needed in a golf facility. I’ve listened to the discussions and workshops at city council meetings, and understand that the building needs major renovations or perhaps a teardown/rebuild. It’s an older building so it’s no surprise that work is needed. There is a steering committee discussing Trailhead now and the city engineer will give a report on Trailhead at the September 17th City Council Meeting. I urge everyone to come to the meeting at 7 PM and listen to what the city engineer says. There is time for citizen comments shortly after the meeting starts and again before the meeting ends. The Capital Facilities Plan will be discussed also at this meeting. Here is what is in the packet regarding Trailhead for the September 17th meeting (from the city’s Agenda Center):

“2020-2025 CAPITAL FACILITIES PLAN
“PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS

“Parks & Public Facilities Capital Projects

“Trailhead Facility Master Plan: Master Plan to determine future capital improvements at Trailhead. Steering Committee is currently reviewing submittals, and scheduling consultant interviews. Contract is anticipated to be approved by City Council in October, with the planning process expected to continue into 2020.
“Trailhead Facility Upgrades: Placeholder for Trailhead Facility upgrades, as may be identified through the master planning process. If no action is recommended, critical maintenance will need to be completed as indicated in “Trailhead Improvements” under Parks & Public Facilities Asset Management.”

I don’t want to speculate about options for Trailhead until we’ve heard from the steering committee and the consultants, to see what they might recommend and what each of those options will cost.

Thank you, Liberty Lake Gazette, for giving the candidates the chance to answer questions from our citizens. May I point out that my opponent, Dan Dunne, has not responded to any of the questions from the Gazette to date. I’m happy to answer questions! Just email me at WoodruffForCouncil@gmail.com.

With the “recent” purchase of new city property on Legacy Ridge… what are the options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility. What is your best option?

Cris Kaminskas campaign photo
Cris Kaminskas

First, the council has gone on record numerous times about the course itself – it will remain a golf course. The question is what to do with the facility. Remodel, tear it down and start over, or keep it the same?

I am looking forward to continuing the discussion about the Trailhead building with the council at upcoming workshops. None of us are experts in the design or requirements for functional golf course club house. The council has kicked off the Request for Proposal process to engage those who are experts.

Whatever the path forward, I would expect that any debt incurred by this project be covered by the operating revenue of Trailhead – through rounds, driving range activities, tournaments, rent and a percentage of sales from a future restaurant, and any other revenue generating activities that we can reasonably incorporate into a renovation/rebuild. That may mean expanded conference/banquet space that can also double as community room space. That may mean adding indoor golf swing-suites, so lessons can continue through the winter – our Golf Pro, Chris Johnston, has already been putting pen to paper and I expect him to be intimately involved in the process. The last thing we need is for this project is to turn into a grandiose, overdone project that will not pay for itself.

Regarding the 20+ acres on the east side of Legacy Ridge, the original intent was to file for reimbursement through Spokane County’s conservation futures program so the land would remain greenspace. That has not materialized to date, though I would like to see it remain as green space going forward.

With the “recent” purchase of new city property on Legacy Ridge… what are the options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility. What is your best option?

Shane Brickner

The property on Legacy Ridge was not purchased with the intention of being used in association with the golf course. There are apparently some rumors to the contrary, but I have spoken to many Legacy Ridge residents who have made it abundantly clear that they are strongly opposed to any such plans or projects.

As a city council, there have been several on the record discussions about our desire to assess the best options of what can be done with the Trailhead property. The current structure has quite a few issues that need to be addressed, like improving ADA accessibility. Some options include trying to update the current structure, or potentially rebuilding that facility. We have reached out to experts to have the facility analyzed to determine what can be done with the property, including listening to city staff and our golf course pro to see what they view as our best options. We want to prioritize those needed improvements to the facility, while also making sure Trailhead remains a good golf course. My biggest priority is making sure that the golf course is in the green (no pun intended) financially. I look forward to seeing and discussing what the analysts bring back to us for this project.

With the “recent” purchase of new city property on Legacy Ridge… what are the options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility. What is your best option?

Dg Garcia campaign photo
DG Garcia
The question of renovating Trailhead golf course, formerly known as Valley View Golf Course, built-in 1973, is a timely one. The city council is focusing on the Trailhead Master Plan during a workshop discussion at its next meeting on September 17, 2019 (www.libertylakewa.gov). By the time you read my take on things, the meeting may have already taken place. Noted on the agenda is an action item, which reflects the consideration of extending the lease agreement between the city and Palenques.

Palenques is the Mexican cuisine restaurant which has been located on the premises for approximately 16 years or more, for those who did not know. Will Trailhead continue to have a restaurant facility as part of the amenities? For how long? Or will something change?

So, to that end, I will address the question to reflect the when and if. When the discussion of options for renovating Trailhead golf course facility is readdressed by the city council on the 17th, will there be community voices at the table? Will those voices contribute to the Trailhead discussion?

Does the city plan on hiring a consultant who is well versed in significant renovations/remodels or even reconstruction—in the event the facility is demolished? Will the city entertain or consider doing nothing? Is that even an option? Is there a Band-Aid Effect option? I certainly hope not. By all accounts, the band-aid is about to fall off.

Other considerations would be enlarging the footprint. Perhaps making it a mixed-use structure. What is our goal? Enhancing the amenities that the pro shop offers; adding vendors such as a local tax consultant/CPA, Law Office; optical shop, a gift shop to name a few examples. Extending the ability of Palenques to provide more services, would be an additional draw.

There are so many options to choose from and or include. More critical to the structural decisions are those that reflect the bottom line. Will Trailhead continue to be a revenue-generating source in all facets? Trailhead must have the ability to make money. Whatever is decided. We must keep our eyes on the prize. Keep thinking long-term, not quick-fix—short-term promises. We understand that something has to happen with Trailhead. The entire community voice in collaboration with the city, its engineers, planning commission, and other interested parties must participate. Ensuring that any improvements we make have a positive impact on Trailhead and are those that will reflect long-term gains. Opening up opportunities for winter activities so that more revenue can pour in during the offseason—the ideas are endless.

The location of Trailhead offers a host of opportunities, finding the right fit is what the process should be all about. What is our vision for the next 46 years, and is it in the best interest of the entire community? This is one city, our city and Trailhead is one of our first historical gems. Let’s preserve it, perhaps not exactly like it is in its current condition, but closer to the standards our city deserves and appreciates.

But keep in mind, all this comes at a price. The discussions must include: How will the project be funded? No rabbit or hat tricks allowed. No robbing Peter to pay Paul situations—because the citizen sometimes ends up being Peter. This is where the rubber meets the road! Ensuring that our city coffers have the capital improvement line item funding to support any renovations/remodeling efforts. Does the city have the ability to set up or use existing funding sources such as those slated for Capital Projects or Special Capital Projects?

It takes money to make real change and improvements happen for any vision to become a reality. Dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s before starting every major project.


No response: Steve Peterson, Dan Dunne, Bob Moore, Tom Stanley

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