Old Three Bears property in sites of city officials
Derelict property could become part of a new municipal land trust
Valdez Star photo
The City of Valdez might take possession of one of the town's most noticeable icons, the fiberglass salmon now homed on Egan Dr.
What about the fish?
That is the question the Valdez City Council was poised to address Tuesday night, as it considered a proposal by city administration that the municipality buy the old Three Bears property on Egan Dr. and take possession of the fiberglass fish.
"Since being vacated by Three Bears, 137 Egan Drive, has been in less than a desirable, or even passable condition," the agenda statement presented to the council by city administration reads. "Following the collapse and subsequent demolition of the building, the condition of the property has been intolerable, and certainly in violation of code. Administration has received countless complaints about this eyesore in our core downtown district."
The council was advised by city administration that a land trust could be the key to getting the property cleaned up and back on the city's tax rolls.
"In larger communities local land trusts exist for this very purpose. Land trusts can acquire property and then oversee desired development with the ultimate goal of returning the property back to private ownership," the agenda statement said. "Despite having been identified as an important need during Strategic Planning, we have not had the time or resources to develop such a land trust for Valdez. Therefore, Administration is recommending that the City step in under this unique situation to act like a land trust and purchase the property."
The statement also said there is no credence to a persistent rumor that the city wishes to buy the property to turn it into a park.
The property, which was purchased by Janice Reynolds several years ago and then briefly operated as a sporting goods store.
Reynolds, and her husband Larry, were owners or partners in several business ventures in Valdez prior to the recession, and several ended up in bankruptcy.
The properties under the control of the Reynolds owe back taxes to the city.
"The property owner has agreed to sell the property for the appraised value, less the back taxes owed," the statement says. "So if the transaction were to take place today, the purchase price would be $217,216.52."
Now back to the question: What about the fish?
Valdez Star photo
The old Three Bears property has sat derelict on the town's main street since it collapsed under a heavy snow load a few years back.
"In exchange for the fish, Mr. Reynolds has asked for the value of the back taxes owed on his home in Robe Lake Subdivision, as well as unpaid landfill tipping fees for the disposal of material associated with the demolition of the old Three Bears building," the statement says. "As of 11/15/2014 the total payoff for back taxes was $11,755.93 and the amount of tipping fees was just over $10,000. The tipping fee debt has already been written off by the City and sent to collections."
No solid numbers were available to determine the actual value of the fish or the cost of relocating it or restoring it.
"The City's interest in this fish would be to relocate it to a more appropriate location, likely the Harbor area, and preserve it as a piece of art," the statement said.
The City Council meeting was held after the Valdez Star went to press and no addition information on any council action was available.