City, Community Club consider trading parks property

The proposed trade of Perkins Pond property owned by the Ocean Shores Community Club, along with a parcel along the bay, for the city’s Chinook Park was more clearly outlined last week as the City Council considers what the benefits and obstacles might be.

Mayor Crystal Dingler said the city first was approached last fall by the Community Club, but deferred taking any action while undergoing budget deliberations.

“When it originally was brought to us, it did not include the parcel on the Harbor,” Dingler said.

Ken Peterson, community club board member and treasurer, later proposed adding that additional property for Chinook Park, on the southeastern shore of Duck Lake.

Dingler said the city still needs to determine if a potential deal could include a trade or some other agreement, and several Council members suggested alternatives.

Peterson explained the Community Club about 30 years ago actually gave the city Chinook Park because at the time it was in financial peril and could not afford to pay property taxes for all of the land it owned. In return, the city gave the club Perkins Pond, with its walking trail adjacent to one of the club’s outdoor swimming pools.

“Well, the Community Club is in a lot better shape today,” Peterson told the City Council on Feb. 11. The club also has the funds to upgrade Chinook Park with restrooms, water service, electricity, irrigation, a better boat launch and other amenities that have long been needed.

“My proposal is just to trade back,” Peterson said.

Council member Steve Ensley suggested adding the property on the bay side of the peninsula — 1.76 acres with a taxable value of $180,000 — to help balance the potential deal, Peterson noted. The Perkins Pond property is 12.9 acres valued at $25,800. Chinook Park is 3.24 acres valued at $353,071. The city also owns another .57 acres of property on the bay next to the property being offered by the club.

Other proposals included allowing the club to manage and improve Chinook Park, while having the city take over management of the trail and wetlands of Perkins Pond.

“Perkins Pond is part of stormwater management,” Peterson added. “All of Marine View Drive is drained into Perkins Pond and then runs into Lake Minard, through the canals and out to the bay. … The pond should belong to the city. There is nothing the Community Club can do to enhance it. It’s a wonderfully little pond. It’s got a great view, and it’s got a lot of people who love to walk around it. It’s not like the Community Club is trying to throw it away or anything.”

The club would continue to operate the outdoor swimming pool next to the pond. “We’re very much obligated to Perkins Pond,” Peterson said.

JoAnn Lacy, whose backyard looks out over the pond, held a meeting at her home. “Perkins Pond is a rare gem with a rich and diverse wildlife population that is enjoyed by all that live on the lake, walkers, photographers, tourists and birdwatchers to name a few.”

Her first response to the proposal was “outrage,” which was why she decided to hold an informal community meeting with Community Club members present. “The big question is what to do to protect the unique qualities of Perkins Pond and the nature trail for the continued enjoyment of everyone.”

Diane Beckley, who lives next to the property on the bay that would be part of the trade, said she welcomed further discussion about the proposal and how that might affect the future of the view parcel. Peterson suggested it could be preserved from development under city ownership.

Pat Hayes, who lives by the pond, called it the community’s Walden Pond. “The thing that scares me to death is the city taking it over,” Hayes said. “You guys couldn’t maintain Chinook Park — you’re not going to maintain this.” He suggested the city make a deal with the club for it to take over Chinook Park. “But leave Perkins Pond alone.”

Richard Wills said the deal makes more sense to him after hearing Peterson’s explanation: “I love his idea that the bay-side properties go into some kind of trust so that view is kept intact.” His biggest question about Perkins Pond was whether the city had “the means to keep it maintained in the lovely state that it is in now?”

Council member Jeff Daniel suggested the entire proposal should first be considered by the city’s Parks Board, and most members favored a future study session once details are reviewed by the city attorney.

Ensley said the deal would have to result in “no change to citizens. I view this as a change in ownership. It’s a change in who pays taxes … but the uses of the property as they are now.”

Maintaining the trail around Perkins Pond would become a city responsibility, Ensley added, with costs offset by not having to maintain the larger Chinook Park any longer. “I would guess that is a win for the city in the costs of maintenance,” he said. “The swap in my mind is pretty simple.”

The Council agreed to put the proposal on a future agenda. Susan Conniry asked: “Can we actually do this? Can we actually trade land?” Both city Public Works director Nick Bird and Brent Dille, city attorney, were not present at the meeting. Conniry also suggested looking at a potential lease or licensing option.

that could allow the Community Club to operate and improve Chinook Park.

“Whatever we do, we need to have the conversation and make sure that the people who are going to be affected by it have an opportunity to know what we’re talking about and weigh in,” Conniry said.