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City Council approves purchase and sale agreement for 9 acres adjacent to Veterans Park

COURTESY IMAGE (PMG ADDED DESCRIPTORS) - A screenshot of the target Grabhorn property as it appears on a GIS aerial photograph updated as of May. The pending purchase would be for the large field in the center of the image. The road abutting the northern edge of the property is EJ Smith Road.

The city of Scappoose on Tuesday, Jan. 21, signed a letter of intent to purchase slightly more than nine acres from a private landholder, a move likely to add to the city's expanding parks inventory.

Scappoose city councilors met Tuesday in a closed executive session to discuss the land deal, eventually returning to open session and unanimously voting to advance the purchase and sale agreement.

Per terms of the agreement the city would pay $600,000 for the property, which is immediately north of and adjacent to Scappoose Veterans Park. Landowner Bart Grabhorn, who approached the city about the potential sale, would donate $150,000 toward development of a park following the sale's close.

"It's a very generous offer to the city and community, it really is," said Scappoose City Manager Mike Sykes. "It's going to create a sense of place. With all of the development going on in Scappoose, it's great to have a landowner who is so civic minded."

"I am excited about the opportunity to grow our parks in Scappoose," Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge noted in an email to the Spotlight.

Columbia County property records show total lot area as 9.54 acres, though the purchase does not include a house on the property's northeast corner lot, per information provided by the city.

Sykes said the deal has been in the works for a couple weeks, though there had been earlier conversations with Grabhorn about how that particular property would be a good fit with Veterans Park.

"We had talked to them in the past about how that would be a really perfect complement to Veterans Park, and it also gives us a chance to put a trail along the creek," he said.

South Scappoose Creek winds along the eastern perimeter of Veterans Park and the Grabhorn property. EJ Smith Road is to the north.

Sykes said the city intends to solicit community feedback on how to best use the property, but noted the potential for recreational fields and, possibly, a pool.

Development of a swimming pool in Scappoose has been controversial ever since public fundraising initiatives stemming back 40 years, including an approved ballot initiative for the city to collect taxes to construct a pool, never bore fruit.

In 2010, the city purchased land on Second Street with the intention of later developing it into a pool facility. That property was later determined to be inadequate for that use, however, and was sold to Wauna Credit Union in 2017 for an offered price of $1.07 million. Some of those sale funds were channeled into the city's existing pool fund, which at the time had nearly $370,000 in it, while some were used to pay off the existing loan for the Veterans Park property, according to past Spotlight reporting.

Sykes said he anticipates applying for state grant dollars to help pay for park infrastructure such as a creekside trail and restrooms.

In the short term following a successful purchase, he said he envisions adding picnic tables for public use.


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