News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

SCSD eyes lot for development potential

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

The Santiam Canyon School District has no immediate plans for an empty lot it hopes to buy in Mill City that is currently slated to become a public skatepark.

The district instead can see the land’s development potential – as an empty lot near existing schools – and would consider the purchase an investment in future growth.

“We don’t have formal plans for that location yet,” Superintendent Todd Miller told The Canyon Weekly, “but any time we have bare ground adjacent to our schools it is advantageous for us to acquire it for future growth, as we do not have much opportunity for bare land growth around us.”

Miller spoke as volunteers renew efforts to complete the skatepark at the current site, located on the 200 block of Second Avenue. 

During a Feb. 28 meeting of the Mill City City Council, members of Santiam Kids and Tourism Effort (SKATE) said they hope to raise around $200,000 and break ground in 2024.

SKATE members also urged officials to not sell the property, arguing this would undo years of development and jeopardize potential funding. 

Mayor Tim Kirsch said the city has not committed to a sale, but would be obligated to entertain a serious offer.

The lot is currently valued at $65,000 by the Linn County Assessor’s office. Kirsch told SKATE that proceeds from a sale could be used toward completion of the skatepark at another location, such as Kimmel Park.

Miller said the district does not want to get in the way of park completion and the project has spent enough time as a dream and should become a reality. He said he personally has attended SKATE meetings to show support and find a solution with volunteers over the Second Avenue lot.

“The dream of a park needs to turn into a reality of a park,” said Miller. “With that said, I do think it is going to take some creative thinking, compromises and a lot of coming together for this project to take hold. Too many kids have missed out on enjoying a skate park over the years in our rural community. I hope to be part of the solution to get this project rolling.”

Miller added, while the lot is ideal for the district because of its location and lack of developments, it does have its downsides as the space currently needs expensive sidewalk improvements.

The property in question has sat undeveloped since 2015 after a fire stroyed a two-story building on the lot. At the time of the fire, the building housed the Mill City Public Library, a Linn County Sheriff’s Office substation, and the city’s public works shop.

The building used to be the city’s fire hall, and at different points served private tenants such as a mining company and a karate school.

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