There is plenty of room for negotiations between the city of Enterprise and the Wallowa County Fair Board concerning right-of-way property to place an 80-foot road into the proposed hospital site in northern Enterprise. The city valued the property at $13,000 and the fair board at $165,553.24.
According to a letter submitted to the Fair Board Sept. 8 by city administrator Michele Young, "This (referring to the right-of-way property) is the only piece left to making this development happen in Enterprise."
Enterprise owns a 45-foot strip of right-of-way along Flora Street beginning at Les Schwab Tires and traveling west to the 15 acres of Wayne Lathrop property, which Wallowa Memorial Hospital is negotiating to purchase to build a proposed new hospital. The city wants to purchase an additional 35 feet of right-of-way land along the northern edge of Fair Board property to establish an 80-foot wide arterial street as required by the city's transportation system plan. The 80 feet would include road width, easements for underground infrastructure, sidewalks and storm water drainage.
The crunch comes on how to value the 46,200 square feet of property.
Enterprise's offer was not for $13,000 in cash but for either an equivalent value in asphalting fairground property not to exceed 14,000 square feet, or chip sealing 3rd Street from Park Street and Silver Street to Hwy. 3.
The city's $13,000 figure was based on the 28 cent per square foot rate the hospital will pay for Lathrop's property, according to Young.
The Fair Board based its property value of $115,084 from the $2.491 per square foot price the city paid the Fair Board in 1998 for nearby Silver Street right-of-way. The $165,000 total included $40,000 for two horse barns which would have to be torn down and over $10,000 in fence replacement costs.
At the Fair Board meeting Monday night board chairman Nancy Carlsen said, "We are not asking for that much money, just are making them aware of the value of the property."
Of the $13,000 offer board member Saralyn Johnson said, "I don't think they had any idea."
In a letter delivered through the mail to the city of Enterprise Tuesday morning the Fair Board said, "As members of the Wallowa County Fair Board we are entrusted with the management of the county's fairgrounds property as designated by ORS 565.230. The land, buildings and other facilities are a public trust to be used for the purpose of benefiting the county fair program. Due to the following facts, which outline the financial cost and potential loss associated with this proposal, we are unable to accept your proposed $13,000 offer."
The horse barns which would need to be taken down to facilitate the deal are rented out throughout much of the year and are a source of revenue for the Fair Board. Fairgrounds Manager Randy Garnett said that the two barns generate an average of $2,160 of revenue each year.
The hospital has no legal jurisdiction to intervene in the right-of-way process. Even if they were to buy the right-of-way they would have to give it back to the city, said Wallowa County Health Care District Board Chairman Ed Jensen. The hospital's biggest concern in getting the issued solved soon is federal interest rates which could go up at any time, adding even more expense to a proposed $15 million project.
As suggested in the last paragraph of Tuesday's Fair Board letter, the next step is for the city and Fair Board to meet to discuss the matter.