District 81 Lands Joe Albi Property Swap
By John Vlahovich
Spokane city council members gave their blessing to a deal between the city and Spokane Public Schools that will see about 20 acres of city-owned land immediately south of Joe Albi Stadium in northwest Spokane swapped for two acres of school land in south Spokane.
Council approval came despite a last-minute petition against the deal submitted by northwest Spokane residents. Council members said the land swap benefitted both parties - giving the school district a location for a future middle school and the city land it needs to mitigate South Hill traffic.
Even one of the original objectors said he reluctantly came to agree with the land ownership swap. Paul Hyndman had been part of the effort about 10 years ago that kept Albi Stadium from being sold and developed for housing. He said he still hated the idea of a downsized stadium capacity, but if the land had to go to someone, he couldn't "think of a better steward than District 81." He says he applauds the city and the district "for continuing the legacy of supporting sports supporters in the past like Albi and Merkel and those that are around here today.”
The Spokane Park Board and school district representatives have been working on the swap for nearly a year. The two land parcels have been appraised and found to be of equal value. There are as yet no firm plans to build a new school on the site.