Opportunity? Or waste of tax dollars?
When Pierce County bought two houses and land last month, it paid over 10 times the amount the seller paid for the same parcel a month earlier.
The board voted 16-1 April 20 to buy the parcel--which includes houses at both 388 and 420 W. Grove St., Ellsworth--for $360,000.
According to a property transfer recorded March 17 with the register of deeds, Doug and Lori Dodge bought the same parcel from T. Gregory Amann for $35,000. The assessed value of the property is $169,100.
Still, said County Board Chairman Paul Barkla, the purchase was an opportunity too good to pass up.
With this purchase, the county now owns contiguous property from the Courthouse north to the county office building to the new property to the fairgrounds.
In the last seven years, the county bought three other parcels along Grove Street and now owns that whole area south of the fairgrounds, said Barkla. That, he said, gives a future county board space to enlarge the fairgrounds or for a new government building.
Barkla said some supervisors felt the county passed up an opportunity when it didn't buy the former Proch's Ballroom property on the southwest side of the fairgrounds years ago.
"There was an opportunity to do something, and we chose not to," said Barkla. "This time, we had an opportunity to put together a whole campus plan, and we chose to do it. I think we acted with prudence."
He said county supervisors didn't try to buy the parcel from Amann before Dodge did because they didn't know Amann was willing to sell.
"It was never offered to us," said Barkla. "We didn't know it was for sale."
For more please read the May 5 print version of the Herald.