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Land donation: to sell or to develop?



David Rauzi

A generous land donation has left the City of Grangeville with a new baby on its doorstep; it’s precious, yes, but what to do with it in the long term?

First off, thank you to Brad Mildenberger and Grangeville Investments LLC. That 94 acres is much appreciated, and it is situated in an opportune location for just the potential uses suggested by the donors: a corridor for growth and development.

Fortunately, the city is not pressed to make any decisions and can allow the land to continue under its historic agriculture use for the indefinite future. And the city meanwhile can pull in a few thousand a year or so in leasing revenue.

So, should the city sell it? That’s a straightforward plan that matches what could be assumed is the general community sentiment. Does the city need to own more land? Why not, instead, put that 94 acres into private hands, onto the tax rolls, and potentially developed into any or all of housing, business and industrial uses?

All that makes sense. Currently, the city is taking a look at its zoning ordinances and how it charges fees for new developments, with the focus on easing regulations and, more specifically, the financial burdens involved and, as a result, encourage growth. Were this achieved, and were the city to couple this new “open for business” era with promoting development at this prime shovel-ready location, we’d be optimistic that entrepreneurs would find this property a good investment.

Or, could there be another option?

It’s a rare opportunity to have such a gift drop into the city’s lap, and as such it may warrant a deeper, long-range perspective for how such a property could benefit all of the city. Can private development be combined with putting a portion of the property for public use? What of moving the Border Days arena out of a congested residential area and into a prominent location? What of a regional sports facility – such as was being considered in Riggins years ago – that provides facilities for not just local but statewide teams and clubs to meet and compete?

Such ideas put more chairs at the table to bring in partners where more players will benefit from a broad perspective of ideas, additional resources and public support. All this makes for a better, more inclusive project. Certainly, it is more complicated and has a harder public sell on the benefits, but with the right idea (insert yours here) and engaged leaders to carry it, such plans could put enthusiasm into Grangeville and renew its sense of community spirit and engagement.

The gist of all this is there is ongoing discussion to be had concerning these 94 acres, that there may be more than one solution to its disposition, and that depending on what we choose it may involve finding effort and enthusiasm to carry us through the long haul of doubt and naysayers to its completion.


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