The City of Winlock is close to selling 6.07 acres of property by Winolequa Park to Lewis County as city officials seek to ensure they are being offered appropriate terms for the sale.
Discussed during the council's Aug. 25 meeting, an offer from Lewis County of $42,500 for the property has been placed on the table, as the county expects to use the land during an expansion project of Hwy. 603 intended to take place next year.
Though the county's original request, presented July 28, had been for 2.52 acres of property along the highway, for the purpose of road expansion as well as a water retention feature, Winlock countered with an offer on July 31 to sell all of the parcel west of the BNSF railroad tracks, a total of 6.07 acres, as they could not see themselves utilizing the remaining 3.55 acres not included in the county's request, as it appears such land would be difficult to develop.
(It has been noted, though these tracts of land are officially part of the 36-acre parcel that makes up Winolequa Park, no park facilities are located within them.)
After considering Winlock's counter offer, Lewis County has agreed they would be interested in purchasing the extra 3.55 acres for a total of $18,800, while they are willing to pay $23,700 for their original 2.52-acre request.
"What we've done is gone back and appraised the balance of the property," explained Bill Van der Hoeff, county property management agent, to the council during their Aug. 11 meeting, "and I expect your first question is why such a significant different between the per-acre value on the two chunks."
Van der Hoeff confirmed Winlock's concerns that the majority of the 3.55-acre lot would be is difficult to develop, stating the northern part is particularly steep while the southern part contains swamplands. He added, while there remains a small area that may be developed, the overall value of the lot is diminished.
"It isn't a highly desirable property," he said.
While following up on the county's offer during their Aug. 25 meeting, council members said they would like to commission their own appraisal of the property to ensure the proposed prices are fair.
"I think we need to do a little bit more research," said Council Member Barbara Pedersen, a real estate agent by trade. "I don't think we should really do anything with this until we find out all the details."
Dowell reminded the council Lewis County has agreed to reimburse Winlock up to $750 for services such as appraisals and surveys. He also said the sale of the property is not time-sensitive and the county would not be disadvantaged if Winlock did not approve the offer immediately.
When it was asked why the council could not simply approve the sale of the 2.52-acre lot and wait before approving sale of the 3.55-acre lot, officials said it would be better for one sale to go through so there would not be a duplication of closing costs, which the county has agreed to bear in full for the transaction.