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Proposed $2.8 million deal with former Mayor Dan Fowler falls apart after officials get tired of waiting for earnest money.

RENDERING COURTESY: FFA ARCHITECTURE - Work is underway to turn the site of an elementary school in Oregon City into a new police station/municipal court on Linn Avenue.Oregon City is heading back to a broker to sell its old police station after a proposed deal with Former Mayor Dan Fowler fell apart last week.

Current Mayor Dan Holladay accused commissioners of making a political decision to cut ties with Fowler, a past Holladay supporter and the only former mayor who has not endorsed the campaign to recall Holladay.

"Your mind was made up as soon as you knew Fowler was involved," Holladay said.

However, city Commissioners Rocky Smith and Frank O'Donnell agreed it was just time to move on from a sales contract signed last year and modified several times.

"We've tied this property up for 10 months when we could have done something with it," O'Donnell said. "They could buy it on Tuesday and sell it on Wednesday. It's not due diligence; it's trying to line up a buyer to flip the property. … Let's move on with other buyers."

Fowler did not dispute that his company, F&F Structures, was trying to flip the property, instead telling commissioners at the July 15 meeting that the city could use his help finding a buyer in the current market. He said that a blocked access point to the property from Hilltop Shopping Center will make it especially difficult to sell.

"With all due respect to the commissioners, we have followed the agreement," Fowler said. "We're dealing out here in the real world, and sometimes stuff happens. We didn't ask for the issue of the blocked road; we didn't ask for COVID to happen."

Smith doubted that Fowler would ever pay the city any earnest money, let alone the proposed $2.8 million purchase price.

"I don't know why Oregon City seems to think we can say, 'This is your last chance' five times," Smith said.

Oregon City Finance Director Wyatt Parno said the city could fully fund its new police building project by borrowing from other departments if another buyer isn't found soon for the old building. Construction on the new building, which will house the police department and municipal court at the former Mt. Pleasant Elementary School site, is being completed by the end of this year.

OCPD's current building was purchased by the city in the 1980s as a temporary civic space. The 1960s-era building and its 1.73-acres of property on Warner Milne Road has a market value around $2.68 million, according to the county assessor's office.

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