Samson buys local street/Council OKs Meigs deal

Samson buys local street

More than five acres of prime real estate in downtown Winslow, long held by the federal government, are being sold to a Bainbridge developer.

Kelly Samson this week confirmed his purchase of the 16-home Government Way project east of Grow Avenue and south of Wyatt Way.

The project has been owned by the Department of the Navy for decades, and houses military families attached to area bases.

The government has been divesting itself of such holdings, under a 1996 law mandating the privatization of military housing through contracts with developers chosen through a competitive bid process.

The parcel is contiguous with three acres Samson already owns at the northwest corner of Grow and Wyatt, where he has previously announced development plans. Samson said Friday that he has no specific plans for Government Way.

“It’s a heck of a big piece of property,” he said. “I just don’t know yet what I might do with it.”

The Government Way property is currently zoned at 14 units per acre maximum density, or about 75 homes.

In 2004, a Texas concern called American Eagle Communities approached the city about a rezone to put a significantly larger mixed-use project there. But the project was abandoned after a barrage of criticism by neighbors, the city Planning Commission, and Samson himself.

Samson said he expects the Government Way deal to close in several months, and did not disclose terms of the deal.

– Douglas Crist

Council OKs Meigs deal

The decision to buy 25 acres of open space near Meigs Farm didn’t come easy.

The City Council on Wednesday approved purchasing two properties for $1.7 million, but not before a lengthy debate over whether they were getting a fair deal.

“I think we owe it to the public to do a double check and not waste public money,” said Councilman Kjell Stoknes, a former land appraiser. Stoknes put the value of 20 acre and five-acre parcels at a combined value of approximately $900,000.

“I’m seeing too much inconsistent information,” he said, noting that the city Open Space Commission’s appraisal valued of one sale property was $30,000 less per acre than the neighboring property. “I think the prudent thing for us to do is to not approve this, and take things one step at a time.”

Stoknes’ proposal for an additional appraisal was rejected by the council. By a five to two vote, the council approved purchasing the properties. The council stripped the proposal of specific funding details, preferring to discuss possible bonds and other financing sources at a later date.

Added to Meigs Park, the properties will form a contiguous 92-acre terrain dominated by a pond, bogs, wooded areas and meadows along State Route 305’s west side.

According to the city Open Space Commission, which brokered the deal with two landowners, the properties include the island’s largest wetland and richest diversity of birds.

Councilman Nezam Tooloee gave the purchase a strong endorsement, suggesting that it receive full councilmatic bond funding.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Tooloee urged the council to have confidence in the OSC’s recommendation.

“The OSC has far more expertise,” he said. “The council has no business second-guessing the appraisal.”

On Friday, Stoknes said he plans to initiate discussions with the council to improve the city’s appraisal process for open space purchases.

– Tristan Baurick

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