The Winlock City Council has approved the sale of park property north of town to Lewis County for an anticipated expansion project on Highway 603.
First approached with an offer from the county back in July, council members approved the sale of 6.07 acres of Winolequa Park for a total of $42,500 during their Oct. 13 meeting, with the funds expected to be deposited in the city's contingency account. It has been noted the property, located between the BNSF railroad tracks and Highway 603, had been undeveloped and contained no park facilities, though it was technically part of the total 36 acres making up the park.
Lewis County has said their intention with the property is to expand a 1.7-mile section of the highway, starting at the northern city limits of Winlock, and use the property, among other purposes, to build a retention pond, as is required for projects increasing the area of pavement in a particular location.
Though the county's original request had been for 2.52 acres, Winlock Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell said, upon taking a tour of the property in question, he did not see a potential use for the remaining acreage west of the railroad tracks and suggested the county purchase an additional 3.55 acres.
County Property Management Agent Bill Van der Hoeff told Dowell this would be a possibility and returned with a proposal to purchase all 6.07 acres for $42,500, valuing the 2.52-acre lot at $23,700 and the 3.55-acre lot at $18,800. Van der Hoeff explained, as Dowell had observed, the larger lot has less development potential, thus its lower per-acre valuation.
Council members initially stated they wished to consult with their own appraiser and determine if the county's offer was fair, and during their Oct. 13 meeting Council Member Barbara Pedersen reported the city's consultation with local agent Mike McDonald determined the county's price was "spot-on." It had also been noted by the county they were prepared to reimburse Winlock up to $750 for appraisal and surveying services purchased while evaluating the offer.
Lewis County now expects to begin their expansion project sometime next spring, which will include widening the highway to make it safer to travel at higher speeds.