Waage will likely reject offer

Waage will likely reject offer The city's bike trail winds east under a bridge on Dakota Street near Cotton Park on a course nearly parallel with the Vermillion River, ending at Brad Waage's property. by David Lias The city of Vermillion made Brad Waage an offer he will likely refuse.

Waage, who first approached the city in December with an offer to sell a 6.4 acre tract of land near the Vermillion River for $2,750 per acre, learned Monday that the Vermillion City Council is interested primarily in a bit more than two acres of the property, and not the entire parcel.

Waage�s property lies north of the Vermillion River, and south of railroad tracks and a portion of Chestnut Street.

A bike path recently constructed by the city is located on the west side of Dakota Street. At Cotton Park, the path curves under a bridge and runs along the north side of the Vermillion River to an area west of Waage�s land.

To finish the bike path, the city needs approximately two acres of his property.

He told the city council in December, however, that he wasn�t interested in subdividing the parcel.

Monday night, he maintained that position, even after some members of the city council questioned whether the city needed to own more than approximately two acres near the Vermillion River.

�That little section that we need is really worthless to anybody except for us to build a bike path,� Alderman Frank Slagle said. �I could take a real solid gulp and maybe pay $2,700 an acre for that just because it�s something we need to continue the bike path. But the other four acres are really pretty shabby. It�s not good land; it�s fairly undesirable land because it�s right next to a sewer lift station.�

Slagle said he didn�t think that any of it was worth close to $2,700 per acre. �I just have a real serious reservation about paying that kind of premium dollar ? basically being force-fed.�

He added that Waage owns something the city needs to alleviate safety issues with the bike path, and apparently is trying to use that leverage to force the issue and make the city pay for more than it needs at an ultra-high price.

Alderman Joe Grause took exception to Slagle�s comments.

�I guess I sit here and listen to everybody and everybody says how value-less it is,� Grause said. �I wonder how many people would think it is value-less if they owned it themselves? To him (Waage) it�s worth something.�

City Manager Jeff Pederson said gathered information concerning liability exposure that Waage would incur as a result of the city having a bike path in proximity to his river front acreage.

�While we don�t really have an answer to the question of whether or not there would be additional liability, we did check with our liability insurer,� Pederson said. �We were informed that we could not provide Waage with liability insurance because the city would not have an insurable interest on someone else�s property even though it might be adjacent to or in close proximity to ours. In order for us to be able to assume a responsibility that could be insured, we need to have some sort of ownership of that property.�

As of Monday, Pederson said, no formal offer had been made by the city to purchase just a portion of Waage�s property.

Alderman Barbara Yelverton agreed with the notion of pursuing the purchase of approximately two acres needed to finish the bike path. She added, however, that the city shouldn�t purchase all 6.4 acres.

�We don�t need all of that,� she said.

Waage told the council Monday that if the city did purchase the property, he would remove brush and take other steps to clean up the land.

He said he wasn�t willing to sell only a two acre portion of the property to the city.

�I don�t want a bunch of people down there and have someone get hurt on my property,� Waage said.

Slagle told Waage that he didn�t see the basis for his concerns about liability. �I think the chances of there being liability are very remote.�

The city would need to come up with approximately $17,500

to purchase all of Waage�s property at his asking price. Pederson said the funds would likely have to come out of general fund reserves.

Alderman Dick Burbach noted that he didn�t believe Waage�s offer was excessive. Pederson said that Waage also had indicated that he would be willing to accept payment for the property over more than one budget year.

�I still do not see any reason why we would buy additional acres when we have no use for that land out there,� Alderman Roger Kozak said. He said he would support a motion to buy the two acres needed to finish the bike path.

�I absolutely see no reason to buy an additional four acres when we have no use for it,� Kozak said.

Kozak made a motion calling for the city to purchase approximately two acres from Waage for $2,750 per acre.

�But I said I didn�t want to do that,� Waage said.

�The purpose for my motion, Brad, is to make it a formal council action,� Kozak said. �We have no formal offer in front of you that I�m aware. This would put it in a formal offer. When that comes to you, you have the opportunity to accept it or reject it. If you reject it, you can certainly consider other offers for the property.�

The council approved the motion. Grause voted against the action.

Waage has until Jan. 31 to respond to the city�s offer.

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