City Council to decide on Kelly property purchase at March 12 meeting

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The proposed purchase of Gene Kelly’s three acre parcel adjacent to the Chelan Airport all comes down to a City Council vote on Tuesday evening, March 12.

The Council was presented with three options at a Special Council meeting on Tuesday, March 5.

  1. Walk Away;
  2. Port will only support the purchase if the City Council supports it; and
  3. Continue forward with the proposed 50/50 partnership using the City’s General Fund which has already been approved by the Port of Chelan County

The proposal to purchase the Kelly property for $294,000 is based on the City’s Right-of-First-Refusal. The Port agreed to front the $294,000 if the City will agree to pay its half back over a five year period at 2.5 percent interest.

While both parties feel it is a good purchase, the Council is having second thoughts, primarily about using the City’s General Fund to pay back the Port loan.

City Administrator Mike Jackson told the Council that utilizing General Funds from the City budget will take away from other capital projects the City has planned.

At the March 5 meeting, Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said, “I’m just a little uncomfortable using general funds. What is the short term benefit to the City.” He also remarked that there is no water available to the property. “Let the Port run with it. The Port may manage it more effectively.”

Both Kelly Allen and Tim Hollingsworth are skeptical of using the City’s General Funds to help purchase the Kelly property at the airport.

Councilwoman Kelly Allen said, “They want to defer to us… whatever we are comfortable with.” Mayor Cooney added that the Port has said that if the City doesn’t want the property, they would purchase it.

An extension to the purchase was mentioned by City Attorney Quentin Batjar who called Kelly’s real estate agent who replied they were not interested in extending the deal.

Hollingsworth said, “I’m skeptical of spending $150,000 and am not prepared to make that commitment.”

Mayor Cooney at the City Council meeting on February 26 stated that he didn’t see where the purchase would ever benefit the citizens or the airport. Jackson added that the City still hasn’t solved the water issue which will cost around $7 million. “We will have to discuss this the March 12 meeting,” said Jackson. The City has to make a decision prior to March 15.

It will all come to a head at the Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting when the Council will once again discuss and come to a decision regarding the property.

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