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Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Celina council wants fewer perks to private owner in land swap

By William Kincaid

Celina Community Development Director Kent Bryan goes over the Pullman Bay entra. . .

Celina City Council members want changes made on a proposal to relocate the Pullman Bay Park entrance.
The current proposal swaps city park land for private land owned by local developer Ron Amstutz, which is where the new entrance would be located.
During a special meeting of city council's park and recreation committee on Monday night, council members requested Celina Community Development Director Kent Bryan remove some perks offered to Amstutz. They also want to reduce the amount of land traded to Amstutz by about a 10th of an acre. The proposal would have traded 0.535 acres of city land for 0.149 acres belonging to Amstutz.
Bryan - who has directed negotiations with Amstutz and other property owners in the area - said his work is intended to get a new park entrance through a lot trade. He then took questions from council members; all of council attended the meeting. Only two community members showed up for the meeting, called specifically to answer questions on this deal.
Councilwoman Angie King voiced her concern about the safety of the proposed new entrance, which would be constructed off Lake Shore Drive. She feels part of the new entrance would be too close to the water. The entrance starts at 36 feet from Pullman Bay, then turns south and runs perpendicular - but much closer - to the bay.
Other council members agreed and asked if the city could retain an extra 10th of an acre from Amstutz. Such a move would allow the city to swing part of the entrance away from the water for safer access to the park parking lot.
"Hopefully he can understand it," King said about the safety concern.
Amstutz did not attend the meeting.
During the discussion, council members requested that Bryan strike the following perks from the proposal: a city-financed resurfacing of the portion of County Road that would become Amstutz's in the land swap; the modification of the Rotary bridge to allow boats to go under; and allowing Amstutz to construct a sign at the new entrance on Lake Shore Drive advertising his development.
Amstutz has said he plans to build a condominium on his property along Lake Shore Drive.
"Why would we absorb the cost of it?" King asked about the modification of the bridge to allow boats to get to Amstutz's land, to which Bryan replied it was part of negotiations.
Councilman Rick Bachelor also said allowing such a sign on public property would be a bad precedent to set. He also was against the $3,000 cost to resurface the part of County Road that would belong to Amstutz. In the proposed deal, council plans to vacate County Road where the current park entrance is located. The vacated County Road then would be given to neighboring property owners - Amstutz, Pullman Bay restaurant and Casey Jones restaurant.
Councilman June Scott also asked what it would cost the city to purchase the needed lot from Amstutz instead of trading for it.  
"I wouldn't want to speculate on the land cost," Bryan said.
According to the Mercer County Auditor Web site, Amstutz paid $140,000 for Lot 5 on Sept. 13, 2004.
"He won't sell that lot," councilman Jeff Larmore said, to which councilman Bill Sell also agreed.
When asked what land would be more valuable to Amstutz for development - his current Lot 5 or the city's property in question - Bryan said the city's land.
"There are other ways to acquire parcel 5," Bachelor said.
The first reading of the proposal passed at the March 24 city council meeting. Councilman Ed Jeffries voted against it, while councilwoman Angie King was absent. No action was taken at Monday's meeting.
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