May 2, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 2

Visible for all to see

Myers property at Fish Lake Park, trailhead has neighbors up in arms

Lunnell Haught has fond memories of Fish Lake.

Paul Delaney
Visitors to the Fish Lake Trailhead cross Myers’ property, passing by many decrepit buildings including DJ’s Tavern, closed since 1995.

“I can remember when they had the best French fries in Spokane County at Myers’ Resort,” the longtime area resident said. “I go back that far.”

But that’s hardly the case today as the one-time fun family gathering place is what some call a toxic dump and an eyesore, among other things. The property is now home to a burned out house, a double-wide trailer that just sits, a closed bar, a yard full of old heavy equipment and litter.

This would not be so bad, perhaps, if the property was tucked away in an out of the way cove or bay, but on tiny Fish Lake, not only is much of it visible from the Cheney-Spokane Road, but as visitors drive into the Fish Lake Trailhead, or visit the park operated by the county, it’s all right there for many to see.

Of most concern to neighbors and visitors is a home on the property that burned in October 2006, yet it still sits there, not far off the highway. It’s boarded up, but not completely, apparently just enough to satisfy regulations that call for the burned building to be secure. Part of the roof, however, has collapsed and many see it as an overall real hazard.

DJs nightclub – closed in 1995 – and a doublewide mobile home have sat in the parking lot behind the house for about three years. When residents asked county officials about the mobile home’s status they were told there were specific procedures that must be followed.

“It’s a little different if this mess was in the middle of nowhere, but there’s two beautiful parks,” one resident said. Few neighbors want to go on record officially and use their name for fear of reprisal, which has happened.

According to another resident, trash that was supposed to have been disposed of in a proper manner ended up somehow in the yard of a neighbor. The proof: a Myers bank statement and a receipt for purchases on an EBT card, the new term for food stamps.

“The property has not been the kind of neighbor you want to have if you wanted to have your property look very attractive,” Haught, the chair of the Spokane County Parks Advisory Committee, and an avid outdoors lover, said.

A number of groups take time to clean up the park on a voluntary basis several times a year. “They love it, they care for it,” Haught said. “And to have something that unsightly; it’s just a poor entrance.”

Haught has summoned the help of Spokane County Commissioners with a two-page letter sent April 10. “This is a request for you to help enforce action to clean up properties adjacent to Fish Lake Park on Cheney-Spokane Road,” she wrote.

“Is it possible for you, as County Commissioners, to cause this property to be cleaned up and have the property owners pay the cost,” she asked?

Haught reasoned, “If you don’t pay your speeding tickets bad things happen to you, there seem to be no consequences here. I think the community members are being taken advantage of.”

The county purchased the park property from the Myers family and patriarch Tom Myers in the early 1980s according to Spokane County Parks Director, Doug Chase. Part of that agreement called for the county to provide potable water to the Myers.

“I’ve been approached by neighbors, ‘why can’t you stop providing water since they’re not complying with something, something, something,” Chase said. Two rights don’t make a wrong, he said, adding his oversight does not involve any of the potential code violations.

Chase also addressed another concern of residents over water quality from the well at the park at a recent Park Advisory Committee meeting. He showed some well samples that were cloudy which prompted neighbors to worry about possible groundwater pollution.

“We’re currently working with some challenges dealing with water quality with the well,” Chase explained. “I have no reason to believe, what-so-ever, that the cloudy water had anything to do with any groundwater pollution thought to be the result of any zoning code issues.”

He said the proximity to the lake, about 15 feet away, the shallow depth of the well, along with equipment issues are the most likely culprits.

Tom Myers died in August 2010 and sons Michael and Dennis Myers took over the property. Both appeared in Spokane County District Court March 18 and were cited for code and zoning violations.

According to the citations both were fined $1,000 with $1,000 suspended. Each brother had a 90-day jail sentence suspended and each was put on 24-month probation and ordered to do a “complete cleanup of property within 45 days to the satisfaction of Spokane County Building and Planning.”

Those 45 days were up Wednesday, May 1. The case now goes to the Spokane County Prosecutor for further action.

If the Myers do not complete the cleanup specified by the court to the satisfaction of the county inspector, they face another day in court. That’s where a judge could impose the original fines of $1,000 for each of two zoning violation charges, as well as two 90-day jail sentences, all of which were suspended pending the result of the Myers’ complying with the court order.

(Next week: Examining the remedies to deal with nuisance properties.)

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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