Whidbey News-Times


Oak Harbor may sell off unused parcels

Whidbey News-Times Co-editor
October 31, 2013 · 9:21 AM

Steve Bebee, operations manager for Oak Harbor Public Works, stands on a wooded property the city may sell. / Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor officials are considering selling cityowned property that is vacant and unused.

Steve Bebee, operations manager for public works, recently presented City Council members with a list of 21 vacant properties during a workshop meeting. He recommended selling three of the properties, including two large parcels on Sleeper Road.

Bebee and Mayor Scott Dudley said in interviews afterward that they would like to use the revenue from the possible sales to purchase other property inside the city.

They both proposed “a regional ball field” as a possibility.

Bebee said he hopes that the sales could raise nearly $1 million.

Bebee said he decided to research unused properties after realizing that they haven’t been looked at in a few years. He spoke with officials from other departments to see if they had a use for properties on the list.

According to Bebee, the city purchased two 20-acre parcels at the corner of Sleeper Road and Highway 20 in the early 1960s. City staff used the properties, which are across the road from a commercial gravel pit, as a source of unrefined gravel.

In addition, the city sprayed sludge from the sewage treatment facility onto the trees on the property in the 1980s.

Both practices, however, ended because of changes in city facilities and state law.

Bebee said the parcels are heavily wooded and rich in gravel, which should make them valuable to potential buyers.

“I don’t really think we use this property anymore,” he said. “These are properties we could definitely get rid of.”

Council members pointed out that the county set the assessed value of one of the properties at $412,000, while the other is $137,000. Bebee said the properties are essentially identical and he had no explanation for the discrepancy.

“We kind of looked at that and chuckled,” he said, adding that the assessed value of other properties also seemed odd.

In addition, Bebee said the city owns a small lot in the Fairhaven area that could be sold. He said the lot could possibly be used for a small home, or maybe sold to the neighbor.

Bebee said cities tend to hesitate about selling properties since funds are scarce nowadays for buying new property. As a result, he recommended that the revenue be used to buy another property.

Dudley said he was interested in the idea of buying property to create sports fields that could be used for regional tournaments.

Bebee said he will look into hiring an appraiser to look at the Sleeper Road properties and bring back a proposal to the City Council.

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