It’s a saga that has been almost a decade in the making. But with the sale of the second of three city-owned lots behind Munson Mountain, it looks like it’s finally coming to an end.
During their regular meeting Monday, Penticton city council announced the sale of a second of the three properties it owns near Munson Mountain. This property, at 1275 Munson Ave., sold for $968,000, more than $200,000 above the price it was purchased for in 2004.
The three properties have been an ongoing source of controversy since they were purchased by the city with the intention of converting the agricultural land and building a four-plex ball diamond on it, increasing the available ball fields in the community.
“There was a huge uproar from the community and we put it to a vote and that was shot down,” said Coun. John Vassilaki, who was on council in 2004 when the purchases were made.
He is normally opposed to the sale of city-owned lands, but said he agreed to this one because the city is not equipped to run an agricultural operation.
“We had others running it and we were losing money,” said Vassilaki. “This was the most feasible thing to do, to sell it. We made a profit of $200,000, which paid back most, if not all, the interest which we paid to the present day.”
Allan Schwartz, a realtor for Coldwell Banker who has been involved with the properties off and on since they were first purchased, said the property sold for about $747,000 in 2004. He also arranged the current sale to Susan and David Tebbutt, who currently operate a vineyard across the road, and plan to increase their acreage.
“The plan is to plant a vineyard there,” said Schwartz, noting that there are about four acres planted with apples now.
He agrees the city made the right decision in selling the property, though they have had to reduce the price since it went on the market in August 2009.
“It was $1.35 million I believe they started at,” said Schwartz, adding that the city did get fair value, especially considering the limited market for agricultural land.
“So the city did well, based on the current conditions. There has been few sales, less than six in the last year,” he said.
“The soil is good. It will be good for grapes, good for a vineyard. This is the right buyer for the property, he has been looking at it for a long time.”
According to Vassilaki, the money from the sale of the Munson property will still be used to increase recreation possibilities in Penticton.
“Those funds can be used to actually purchase property that we can use for parklands, real parkland that the community can use,” said Vassilaki. “We have several in mind that we are discussing.”
Another neighbouring property was sold last year and, according to city manager Annette Antoniak, the city has no plans to sell the remaining property, which backs directly onto Munson Mountain Park.