by Richard Uhlhorn
The City of Chelan held a Council Workshop on Tuesday, November 5, to discuss the City’s “Proposed Capital Improvement Program and Proposed Operating Budget” with Finance Director Steve Thornton presenting and answering questions.
In addition to the city financial outlook for 2020, the agenda included a motion consideration on the O’Neal Spader Bay Property.
City Administrator Mike Jackson
City Administrator Mike Jackson opened the discussion saying he wanted to try and move this issue on. “This has been a hot topic since last summer,” said Jackson describing the landlocked 9.5 acres just west and above the Spader Bay community.
He mentioned that J.A. Brennan and Associations is working on a concept plan and that potential access to the landlocked property could come through Vin du Lac.
“We offered $400,000 and they came back with $950,000.00.” The seller has come down to the City’s price with Linda Evan Parlette gifting her portion of the sale for a tax benefit.
The agreement is a Bargain and Sale Agreement with a 90 day due diligence period for the buyer.
City Attorney Quinn Batjer prepared the sale agreement for the Council.
City Attorney Quinn Batjer told the Council that “at closing” the City would pay the Seller a cash down payment of $50,000 with the balance ($350,000) payable in seven bi-annual installments beginning on July 10, 2020, with interest at three percent.
The 90 day “Due Diligence” period will give the City the time to conduct or contract for any and all tests, studies, surveys, inspections, reviews, assessments or evaluations of the property.
“Council will have another opportunity to look before closing,” said Batjer. “The 90 day period begins at signing.”
Councilman Ray Dobbs stated that there are some water rights associated with the property and that the City can take those water rights. “That is an added value,” stated Dobbs.
Councilwoman Kelly Allen was concerned about the “landlocked” issue. Jackson replied that Guy Evans (the real estate broker) is working on easments with Larry Lehmbecker at Vin du Lac and that those discussions are positive.
Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart said, “Every bit of that open space is valuable to me.” She talked about the opportunity for water trails to the property.
Jackson told the Council that the City wants to be “good neighbors” to the Spader Bay community and felt that the proposed trail system could be made into a loop. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that vehicle access is important.
Mayor Mike Cooney
Mayor Cooney opened the discussion to the public and the first speaker was Alice Thompson. She asked why the City was spending money on this property that will require a sizable investment when the lake is accessible seven months out of the year. “It is just lost revenue with no return,” said Thompson.
Dr. Phil Long, Lake Chelan Research Institute felt that the purchase of the Spader Bay Property would help keep Lake Chelan clean in the long run.
Phil Long, Lake Chelan Research Institute, encouraged the City to purchase the property from a standpoint of water quality. “For a community that is dedicated to lake preservation, this is a good decision.” Long says that keeping the parcel in “open space” instead of being developed as a high density residential area would keep nutrients and contaminants from entering the lake.
John Olson, successful Council candidate, said he had mixed feeling. “I spent a lot of time at the Post Office last month (campaigning),” said Olson. He said that most people he talked to didn’t think the purchase was a good idea.
John Olson, who defeated Jon Higgins for a City Council seat stated that most of the people he talked to on the street were against the purchase of Spader Bay property.
Olson went on to say that at the recent Town Hall meeting that out of the 35 red dots handed out, 18 of them ended up on the Spader Bay property. “It was pretty clear that it is not a good idea,” said Olson. “The nearest parking is at Don Morse and only the most active will access it. It doesn’t sound like a good use of $1 million.” He did appreciate the open space.
Olson went on to comment that there are 1,400 docks on the lake with seven applications per month for docks. “There has been a lack of public contact. We haven’t gone through the full public.”
Mayor Cooney shot back that the City was looking at $400,000 to purchase $ million on the property. It was brought up that the City was willing to spend an additional $600,000 in development of the parcel and that amount was listed on the City’s website.
“We have 90 days to make a decision,” said Jackson. “If one of these considerations is unsatisfactory, we can back out.”
Asked if there was any restriction of the City selling the property, Batjer said “No.”
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said the property has intrinsic value to the City and encouraged the Council to purchase.
Hollingsworth stated that a lot of people think the City should not be purchasing the land. “We make a living off tourists and that property has intrinsic value to the City,” said Hollingsworth. He went on to say that the City should look at the purchase as a legacy that will “pay dividends over the long haul. We need to lock this down.”
Mayor Cooney reiterated that there had never been a movement to approving the expenditure of $600,000 to develop that parcel and that the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance would be building a trail on the property.
Isenhart than made a motion to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute the Bargain and Sale Agreement between the City and Seller. This was seconded by Councilman Ty Witt after which the Council voted 6 to 1 (Dobbs voting Nay) to enter into the agreement.
The workshop topics on the 2020 Capital Improvement Program and Operating Budget will be handled under a separate article soon.