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PUD buys new land near rodeo grounds

— Northern Wasco County PUD voted Tuesday, June 25, to buy 2.67 acres of land that once was part of the city dump after the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a No Further Action decision related to site contamination.

The site is due south of the PUD’s 2345 River Rd. offices and has been recently used as the parking lot for the Fort Dalles Rodeo grounds. The transaction has been on hold since a 2007 earnest money agreement was signed, mainly as a result of the environmental analysis and other due diligence. The acreage is part of former Northwest Aluminum ownership.

The PUD has been considering the site for a future laydown yard and possible warehouse space, but isn’t planning any rapid moves.

“We have some future projects where we may want to use [the property] as a laydown yard, but nothing right away,” said Dwight Langer, executive director of the PUD.

The DEQ decision comes with restrictions, including maintaining an 18-inch layer of compacted soil over the underlying waste.

Purchase price for the site is 92 cents per square foot, said PUD attorney Jim Foster, for a total of about $110,000, less $5,000 already paid as earnest money.

The board unanimously voted to authorize Langer to sign the purchase agreement after review of the title report, which is due this week.

In other business, the PUD board approved three out of five economic development grant applications including $2,800 to upgrade electrical service at the Original Wasco County Courthouse, $7,000 to add lighting to some of The Dalles Mural Society’s existing murals, and $10,000 for construction of an addition to The Dalles-Wasco County Library. The money will also help spur private contributions under a challenge grant for the project.

The PUD board rejected an application from Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation for $9,920 for repairs for a home intended to provide housing for low- and moderate-income workers. They cited concerns about the “speculative” nature of the project, and that the benefits from the house might be realized outside the utility’s Wasco County district.

They also rejected a request from the Mid-Columbia Senior center for $3,000 to help with the cost of architectural drawings and final design. PUD policy prevents use of grant funds for preliminary activities of capital development, but PUD Board President Howard Gonser noted that it would be appropriate for the senior center to apply for grant funding for actual construction costs.

The grants were approved by a 4-1 vote with Director Clay Smith maintaining his longstanding policy of voting against the grants.

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