Purchases of the old Stuntzner Building and a 1920 house would give the city near-total control of the block.

The Forest Grove City Council unanimously approved the purchase of two downtown properties Monday night, Feb. 26, including the old Stuntzner Building.

Owners Ronald and Joyce Stuntzner and Eric Urstadt have put the Stuntzner Building up for sale. The owners and the City of Forest Grove agreed on a purchase price of $410,000, according to Paul Downey, Forest Grove's director of administrative services.

The city has also agreed to buy a house next to the old industrial property, at 2129 19th Ave., for $240,000. The house was built in 1920 and recently renovated, according to a real estate listing.

If the purchase is completed, it will effectively give the city full ownership of all properties on the block bounded to the north by Pacific Avenue, to the south by 19th Avenue, to the west by Ash Street and to the east by Birch Street. (The Forest Grove Fire & Rescue property at 1919 Ash St. is shared with the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District, which is technically a separate entity, although it shares staff, equipment and property with the city agency.)

How the properties will be used by the city is not yet clear.

The Stuntzner Building at 2137 19th Ave. has some structural issues, including a leaking roof, and possible on-site contamination in places. But Downey said the city attorney and staff believe there is little risk to the city.

"We're not looking at the short-term functionality of the building," Downey said. "We're looking at the long-term use."

Despite its renovations and recent repainting, the house next door at 2129 19th Ave. still sticks out on a block that now hosts the city library, police department, and fire and rescue agency.

"That property probably does have some short-term potential use for us," Downey said of the house, suggesting city employees could be moved there to alleviate crowding at other facilities.

A press release from the city provided to the News-Times immediately after the vote states that the purchase of the properties "opens up several options for long-term facility planning," including for the Forest Grove City Library, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, and the Forest Grove Police Department.

The City Council held a work session earlier this month to discuss the possibility of building a new police station or expanding and upgrading the existing facilities. Any such effort would likely require voters to approve a capital bond measure at a future election, a consultant told the council at that meeting.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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