"DNR, city and county argue over appraisal"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:20 AM
"ontrary to a lot of observations - and wishful thinking - transfer of the 350-acre Illahee Trust Land from the state Department of Natural Resources to Kitsap County and the city of Bremerton is not a done deal.And a lot of people are disappointed about it, including Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen.We're working real hard on it, said Endresen recently.She and others from the city and county were hoping the deal would be far enough along to be an action item for next month's Board of Natural Resources meeting, a precursor to the actual land transfer.The transfer includes two parcels of land: the 352-acre Illahee Trust Lands forest from the state Department of Natural Resources to the city-operated Bremerton Water Utility, and a 120-acre parcel belonging to the Water Utility from the city to the DNR. The Illahee land would give the county another sorely needed park, with part of the acreage, about 10-20 acres, developed for active use with ball and soccer fields and picnic grounds under the jurisdiction of the city. The rest would be developed for passive use, with trails and interpretive signs to retain the natural character of the county. That would be under the jurisdiction of Rick Fackler, open space coordinator for the county. The hang-up in the deal appears to be a wide difference between the appraisals the county and city have for the Illahee Woods, and that of the DNR - a few million dollars' difference, Endresen noted.Both agencies have been through a series of appraisals as a matter of policy.There've been eight different appraisals within a little better than a year, said Fackler, so there are a lot of numbers to choose from.Each agency had an appraisal done, then teamed up for a joint appraisal. But the numbers for the third appraisal weren't quite kosher, so the agencies had it redone.Then, following its own regulations, the DNR had an internal appraisal, which adjusted the corrected, joint appraisal upward.Fackler and the county's appraiser met Friday with the DNR and its appraiser.It was strictly a good airing of the issue. We feel we had a good (meeting), the facts of logic were with us. But we didn't come to any conclusions, Fackler said.The DNR person made it clear she couldn't commit to any kind of a conclusion, he added.And that's where one of the major glitches comes in, noted Endresen.Former Commissioner of Public Lands Jennifer Belcher was in favor of the Illahee Woods transfer.But Belcher is gone, and the commissioner Doug Sutherland, a former Pierce County executive, is just taking office.The person in charge of DNR land transfers is not sure of what (Sutherland's) policies are going to be, and she didn't feel she was in a position to make a committment on the price, Fackler added. Endresen and a number of others were disappointed at the stalemate.But she said, I have a call in to Doug Sutherland, we're going to try to reach an agreement on the price and get it on the February (Board of Natural Resources) agenda.Both Endresen and Fackler observed that the county shouldn't have to pay more for the property than it is worth.Endresen said that while the DNR has the obligation to make sure they're getting the maximum value for the property, what they have to do is remember we're both working for the same people, the taxpayers. "