Complicated bequest nets city a new park

For the bargain price of $63,000 — and eight months of hoop-jumping — the City of Port Orchard is now the sole owner of a virtually untouched five-acre parcel on Bethel Road.

All that’s left is to annex the property — a somewhat complex process given its location a good ways from the nearest city limit boundary.

The land, located at 4940 Bethel, was formerly owned by Ancilia Tripp and was deeded to the city in her will. Tripp actually offered donations to a number of municipal agencies, including Fire District 7. However, because of the significant amount of debt left outstanding after her death, the city appears to be one of the few to actually collect its inheritance.

“There were bills that had to be paid on it,” said interim city clerk Carol Etgen.

Etgen, who oversees annexation proceedings for the city, said by the time the city got the property it had accumulated $1,230 in back taxes. The city also had to pay a $62,000 Department of Social and Health Services bill in order to take possession of the property.

Even with the required outlay of cash, Etgen said, Port Orchard still got a heck of a deal. She said the last formal assessment done on the property placed its value at $363,000.

“It looks like a great piece of property,” Etgen said.

Happily, the city will not have to go through the election process required of a non-municipal property annexation. Because the city owns the property and plans to rezone it for municipal use — its current Kitsap County zoning designation is residential — all the city council has to do is vote the property in and approve an ordinance placing the property under city management.

However, the city will still have to wait for the clock to run out on the Boundary Review Board’s 45-day hold on the issue — scheduled to take place Aug. 24. If no one — including members of the review board — raises objections to the annexation before that date, the city has automatic permission to move forward.

If everything goes as expected, the annexation measure will show up on the Sept. 8 city council agenda. Due to publication requirements for council action of this sort, Etgen said, it would be illegal to put the matter on the Aug. 25 agenda.

There are caveats, though. As with the island of city-held land occupied by the Karcher Creek Sewage Treatment Plant, the Tripp property cannot be used as an anchor for future annexations. Adjacent property owners wishing to join the city will have to wait until the line of city-annexed properties extends up Bethel to meet them.

Although nothing has formally been decided, the expectation is that the city will turn the five acres into a park of some sort — a plan echoed by the hopes of the late Ms. Tripp.

“She said she would like the property to be used as a park or a community center,” Etgen said.

The city also got a bit of a bonus prize when it received the land — a vacant mobile home in unknown condition. According to the terms of the bequest, the trailer came with the land and is now Port Orchard’s responsibility to deal with.

Thus far, no plans have been made for its future.

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