County Land Sold, Coast Folks Irked

West Lane County residents often feel a little shortchanged by the Lane County Commission. They pay taxes to the county but say that they get less public safety and other benefits. A recent county vote to sell land near Ada Park, which is on the shore of Siltcoos Lake near the Oregon Coast, to a logging company has some West Lane residents even more upset over county politics.

Commissioner Pete Sorenson voted against selling the land at the April 29 commission meeting, but the conservative board majority, minus Sid Leiken, voted to sell it. Sorenson tells EW that at the commission meeting, Public Works staff said that the land had been owned by the county for many years, probably since 1967, and was being held as possible addition to the Lane County Parks System. Sorenson says that when he asked if selling the land would reverse that policy, the Public Works staff said it would.

Lea Patten emailed Commission Chair Sid Leiken on April 26 over the sale of the land to Basco Logging, asking, “What gives? The county pleads ‘poverty’ yet plans to sell timbered land for $700?” Patten, who lives near Florence, offered, “I’ll buy the land for more than that! Will the county take $800? Or $1,000? Please let me know and I’ll drive to Eugene and pay in cash!”

Leiken responded that he would forward Patten’s email to Faye Stewart, writing, “I will be recusing myself from this item and cannot comment on this due to Basco Logging being a longtime business partner of mine.”

Patten, as well as fellow Florence residents Stuart and Johann Henderson, objected also to the land being sold without any public comment. “This attempt to shortchange the citizens of western Lane County through a preferential sale, at a pittance to a corporation, is bad politics. Many of us here question your motives,” the Hendersons wrote West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich. He responded that notice had been given in the R-G and surrounding neighbors had been notified. He at first said he would be willing to pull the item from the agenda for further public discussion, and later says he would make sure it would be properly valued, saying, “there is no grand conspiracy.”

Sorenson says that after he questioned Public Works staff, it became clear “that the county would receive very little money under this sale.” He said the sale proceeds of under $20,000 would result in the county receiving less than $500 for the sale after county costs to sell the land and net taxes to other jurisdictions were deducted. The parel, a portion of which borders Siltcoos Lake, will be logged.