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Loan for falls access OK'd; deal is reached

FALLS CITY -- The Falls City Alliance now has the money and a signed agreement to acquire property that once again will allow public access to the north bank of the falls on the Little Luckiamute River in Falls City.

July 17, 2013

FALLS CITY -- The Falls City Alliance now has the money and a signed agreement to acquire property that once again will allow public access to the north bank of the falls on the Little Luckiamute River in Falls City.

The City Council of Falls City approved a $133,000 loan from its Revolving Loan Fund needed to purchase the property on Mitchell Street on Thursday in a 5-to-1 vote, with Councilor Terry Ungricht voting "no."

Alliance members requested the city approve the loan while in negotiations with property owner Judith Bent.

Negotiations ended in a settlement agreement in which Bent agreed to sell the property to the alliance for a sum of $125,000 plus other related costs. A 2008 appraisal of the property set a value at $85,000, including two parcels unsuitable for development the city purchased in 2010.

The vote proceeded with no comment from the council, but City Administrator Amber Mathiesen said given the purchase was backed by the alliance and would secure better public access to the town's namesake, she recommended approval.

"The Falls City Alliance's demonstrated ability to raise funds is what is generating staff support for this application," Mathiesen added. "Under ordinary circumstances I wouldn't recommend it because nonprofits, by definition, don't have guaranteed funding sources available to them."

Several alliance members in the audience for the meeting cheered and clapped once the loan was approved. But, beyond expressing excitement, they offered no further comment.

After the vote, though, Councilor Barbara Spencer announced more good news for the alliance: "We have received verification that the agreement has been signed by both parties."

Ungricht said that in spite of his "no" vote on the loan, he supports the alliance's mission. His objection was to the use of the Revolving Loan Fund as the source for the loan. The fund is typically used for loans to city residents for home rehabilitation, repairs and energy conservation.

Approving the loan will require the city to transfer loan fund contingency money through a supplementary budget to cover the entire amount, leaving $21,000 left for use in fiscal year 2013-14. The entire amount available -- not all of it is budgeted -- is $220,286.

However, Ungricht said he is confident the city will get its money back.

"I've looked over their books and have no doubt they will pay it back and do a good job," he said.

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