The North Bend Eagle

 

Council considers buying land north of park

by Nathan Arneal
Published 8/15/18

A parcel of land slightly bigger than 7 acres north of the North Bend city park caught the eye of the city council, but there is no consensus on whether the council should pursue purchasing the land.

A public hearing was held during the Aug. 7 city council meeting, the first required step if the council would ever want to make an offer on the land.

The undeveloped ground is being sold by the family of the late Jim Coen, and covers an area approximately the size of 3.5 city blocks north of the baseball field and scout cabin.

The ground is listed for $180,000, more than $25,000 an acre. Mayor Jeff Kluthe said that would likely be out of the city’s price range. The city cannot pay more than the property’s appraised value.

Councilman Tom Mullally suggested that the ground could be used to expand the city park, possibly to include a campground, community center or ball fields.

Councilman Bart Bosco said he would need to see some written plans for the ground before agreeing to make an offer.

“I’d be hard pressed to buy a 7-acre piece of property without some kind of plan for it,” Bosco said. “Just on a whim, I can’t go for it.”

Several members of the public spoke in favor of the city purchasing the land. Troy Post, who lives across the street from the city park, said it is used all the time.

“I think our town has a much smaller park in relation to the population than most towns our size do,” Post said. “I go to other cities and see parks that are much bigger and there’s a lot more opportunity there.”

Post also supported the idea of a community center, saying the 1939 city auditorium is badly in need of replacement.

Kluthe said he didn’t think a new community center was practical to host a few weddings a year.

“I just have zero desire in a new auditorium or something like that,” the mayor said. “It doesn’t seem logical.”

Andrea Halladay urged the council to use the ground to build more ball parks. She said 198 kids played ball this summer in the Optimist program on 19 teams using just two fields.
Ann Minarick, a member of the family selling the land, said it would be a good investment for developing. She said there is room for 18 to 20 lots as part of a possible new subdivision.
Kluthe said no consensus was going to be reached at the meeting and closed the hearing and tabled the matter.

The council also heard a presentation from Nathan Arneal and Nick Emanuel of the North Bend Economic Development Committee of the Chamber of Commerce.

They suggested North Bend establish an LB840 fund using a portion of the city’s existing sales tax. The funds, which would be controlled by the city council, could be used for economic development purposes such as purchasing land for housing, making aesthetic improvements downtown and supporting and recruiting local businesses. Adopting such a plan would require approval of a public vote.

No action was taken.

 

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