Council declares former 9th Avenue facilities surplus, with intent to sell

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council last week declared surplus the former Public Works maintenance facility and Water Treatment Plant at the north end of 9th Avenue.

The council held a public hearing regarding the sale of the property at its regular meeting Dec. 13.

In August, the council’s Property Committee began looking at selling the property as a way to raise money to help remodel the new City Hall building, 3225 Hwy 20, said Pat Gray. The council received an appraisal of $250,000 for the property, declaring that value at its regular meeting on Nov. 22.

The public hearing was a next step toward selling the property, 1730 Ninth Ave., which is located on the south bank of the South Santiam River. Follwing the hearing, the goal was to declare why the city no longer needs the property and declare it surplus, Gray said. The city simply no longer has a use for the property.

Public Works has moved to a new facility off 24th Avenue, and a new Water Treatment Plant is now operating, west of 47th Avenue. At this point, the city use space at the Ninth Avenue facility for storage, and the former Water Treatment Plant has been demolished.

“I just want to make sure it goes to its best use,” said Councilor Jeff Goodwin. “Is an outright sale the best use?”

He wondered whether it should be zoned business or multi-family, “a beneficial use other than just selling it to whoever wants it.”

Gray told the council it is zoned low-density residential, and it had a conditional use permit for the treatment plant and Public Works.

She said the city would like to retain an easement allowing a public walking path along the river.

Councilor Greg Mahler said that a business would be hard-pressed to operate at that location.

“How can we dictate what they want to put on there?” asked Councilor Dave Trask, noting that he’s necessarily opposed to what Goodwin talked about, but “we just need to get the biggest bang for our buck.”

“When I look at Sweet Home, I see a very interesting phenomenon,” Goodwin said. “The properties that would normally be the most desirable are not. A lot of the areas along the river are not being developed in some of the nicest ways. So my concern is that if we just sell it without any restrictions, without any kind of guidance, we could end up with somebody coming in and buying it and putting up a bunch of manufactured homes there – as opposed to saying, ‘Let’s put a hotel there, right along the river.’

“ I know you say that’s not where it’s going right now, but could we shape that? Could we encourage that? Could we give a huge tax break to somebody who comes in and puts something nice there?”

While he thinks the council should move forward with a sale, Goodwin said he wanted to bring up the discussion.

“I would love to see us shift our focus toward can we make the river the place to be as opposed to one of the poorer areas of town and get more investment in there and improve things and make it better, so it’s more desirable to utilize that resources,” he said.

Mayor Jim Gourley suggested that “changing from the municipal water supply to something else is going to make a big difference in that particular street.”

It would be nice if someone went in there and helped improve that street, Gray said.

No members of the public testified at the hearing. Following the hearing, the council voted 6-0 to declare the property surplus and move forward with selling the property.