Land swap moves ahead
The Washington City Council agreed to move ahead with a proposed deal with area landowner Duane Redlinger to trade 48 acres of the city land for 46 acres along Fifth Street and North Avenue D that is projected to house the proposed Wellness Park.
The final agreement was accepted by the city council. Several issues that had been pending were resolved prior to Wednesday’s meeting and city administrator Brent Hinson said that he expects the final closing on the “land swap” to be made on March 7. Hinson said that the city’s land is part of the “school 90” — 90 acres of land purchased from the Washington School District — and is prime farmland. Both plots of land have been valued at $400,000 for the purpose of the swap.
“I believe we have negotiated a very good deal,” Hinson told the council. “Overall, things should work out well with the transfer of land.”
The agreement was approved unanimously. Hinson said arrangements have been made to remove a shed and a couple of trailers on the corner of the land. City attorney Craig Arbuckle said he was “very satisfied” with the arrangement. Hinson said the two-acre difference in the deal is because of the way the rights of-way are set up in the county.
Councilman Fred Stark stressed that the city is not swapping all 90 acres of land it acquired from the school district several years ago. He also said that the deal will give the Wellness Committee some drive to work toward fundraising for the anticipated $5 million park project.
The council also discussed and agreed to leasing the remaining 42 acres of the school 90 to Redlinger, which was part of the trade agreement. Hinson said they had negotiated a three-year lease for $350 per acre. Arrangements have been made for the city to use the northeastern four acres, which is the site of a proposed 500,000-gallon water tower.
There has also been an arrangement for the FFA to get across the land to get to six acres of farmland principal Dave Hoffman owns. Formerly, the FFA had been leasing the school 90 from the city to farm.
Hinson said that there has only been minimal discussion, but he feels when the Wellness Park is completed, the city will provide maintenance and the Washington Community Y will do the programming for the park. He said the city will retain ownership of the land.
“It will be no different than any other park we have in town,” he said.
Hinson said that of the $750,000 that has already been spent on the project, including land acquisition, the city has contributed about $700,000. He also said that he still expects the Wellness Committee to ask the council for further contributions to the project.
During a recent budget work session, councilman Mark Kendall proposed the city earmark $25,000 per year for four years to the Wellness Park, so the committee could use it as seed money for additional grants. The proposal was declined.