City of Woodburn buys land with community center in mind
The city of Woodburn will purchase the property located immediately to the north of the Woodburn Aquatic Center, which will allow the city to expand the aquatic center into a more comprehensive community center. The City Council voted to authorize city staff to execute a purchase and sale agreement for the property located at 294 Oak St. at its Nov. 13 meeting.
According to Assistant City Administrator Jim Row, the city has been interested for years in the property.
"We've actually engaged in conversations with this particular property owner for many years now about the city's interest in purchasing that property," Row said at the Nov. 13 meeting. "And it really never made sense until now. And the property owner listed it for sale recently. The timing was good because we're in the middle of updating the community center plan."
The property will cost $210,000 and will be paid for with the city's general capital construction fund. However, that will be refunded later on. The city was awarded $1 million in Oregon Lottery bond financing for the community center project during the most recent state legislative session, and while those funds won't be available until April 2019, the state has authorized the city to use the lottery bond funds to reimburse the general capital construction fund once the lottery funding is available.
Woodburn residents have long expressed a need for a community center, but the project has been stalled in the past due to lack of funding. The project regained momentum in January this year when the city began a feasibility study exploring the possibility of renovating and expanding the aquatic center into a more comprehensive community center.
That feasibility study is still being completed. It will include an evaluation of the existing facility, conceptual drawings and a cost estimate for the project.
The allocation of lottery bond funds in July has added to that momentum. Anthony Veliz, president of the Woodburn Downtown Association and a community member who's led the most recent push for a community center, called the lottery bond funding "seed money" that will allow the project to get further funding.
"We still have a ways to go, but this is a catalyst for us to go to foundations and private companies and to secure public and individual donors," Veliz said this summer.
According to Row, the property will make the community center dream closer to a reality.
"The site that property sits on would add significantly to our ability to expand the aquatic center in a manner that makes a lot of functional sense," Row said at the Nov. 13 meeting.
The property is 0.115 acres, according to Marion County Assessor records, and currently includes a house and detached garage.