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Right-of-way land to be appraised

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

If all goes well, the city of Buckley may be selling a parcel of land facing River Avenue, near the railroad right-of-way property, and using the revenues for upgrades to its sewer treatment plant.

The land city officials have in mind sits between the post office and the liquor store. It already has a separate tax parcel number and was on the market before, but never sold.

After an executive session at the May 11 City Council meeting, council members voted to get the land appraised as soon as possible in hopes of selling it. Money from the sale, they indicated, could offset costs of the city's sewer treatment plant upgrades. Mayor John Blanusa also pointed out the sale of the land would generate income for the city from property taxes.

The parcel in question is along the railroad right of way, which many people enjoy recreationally. But because it's currently a gravel area between two other buildings, City Administrator Dave Schmidt said the idea of selling the land for business should not cause too much dissent among Buckley residents. He also said the city has no plans for selling any more right-of-way property.

Schmidt said the City Council's entire decision was based on looking at another way to finance the city's sewer plant upgrades rather than passing the cost along to citizens.

"We're trying all the different avenues," Schmidt said, adding the city has looked at loans, grants and other options to cover costs without raising sewer rates too much.

"Put us on the corner with a little cup in our hand and a sign," Schmidt joked. "We're taking what we can get. Maybe we'll have a bake sale."

The city is also looking into putting a public parking lot on that property, giving easier access to the Foothills Trail and hopefully generating more interest in the downtown.

Schmidt said while that option is being considered, he is not even sure it's a possibility. The parking lot would go behind the liquor store, where currently there is a large empty portion of land. Construction of a lot would depend on the lease agreement between the city and the liquor store and whether that land could feasibly be used as a parking lot.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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