Homer takes steps to purchase UA land

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

HOMER (AP) -- The Homer City Council has authorized the purchase of 220 acres of watershed land near the city reservoir from the University of Alaska.

In addition, the council heard that there may be a chance to sell the City Hall to the university.

City council members approved the price of $265,000 for the watershed land.

The city has long sought to protect its water source from potential contamination, which could occur from nearby development. Negotiations with the university, however, had been stalled since the early 1990s.

''I have felt strongly that, if at all possible, we should acquire properties in the watershed,'' said Councilman Ray Kranich. ''I feel that we should move forward.''

The deal follows resolution of a long-standing dispute over $75,000 paid by the city to the university. The university returned the sum last month after 8 1/2 years.

The city claims that the sum was a loan to assist the local college in the purchase of land in 1994, and that the city should have received either a reimbursement or certain Bridge Creek watershed lands from the university in return. The sides disagreed over whether the money was a loan or not, and the university has disputed portions of the exchange.

The purchase of the watershed is part of the city's comprehensive plan and has been one of Homer's legislative priorities as well.

The council hopes to get an appraisal of the value of City Hall as well as investigate the temporary relocation costs for moving into the former intermediate school building until a new facility is built.

''They seem interested in this building,'' said Mayor Jack Cushing, regarding the college's interest. With recent approval of a $3 million expansion to the Kachemak Bay Campus, Cushing said, the university could purchase City Hall and connect it to the college next door.

The college has asked the city to name a price.

''If you want to unload it, I think we're going to get an offer from them,'' Cushing told the council. ''I'll just give you a heads up expect an offer.''

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