To the editor:
Foresight is always better than hindsight. I am asking the county commissioners to take time to use some foresight and do some serious homework before they make radical changes to our only county lake.
Sometimes a good economic decision can be made by looking at someone else’s poor decisions.
For example, a 15-year lease for approximately 11,000 square feet for a residential lakeside building site at Council Grove Lake pays the leaser (the City of Council Grove) an annual rent of between $500 and $600. But individual leaseholders have recently sold these leases of bare, open land for $60,000 to $100,000 on the open market. Darlene Wilkerson, long-time realtor in Council Grove, confirmed this information.
Thus, by only charging lease rent on the lots, the city has given away to the leaseholders some big money that could have gone toward the city budget.
Marion County commissioners are preparing to make the same mistake on an even larger scale by considering a 99-year lease of lakeside sites at Marion County Lake for only a very modest annual rent.
With Council Grove as a cautionary example, it appears that the lease our commissioners should be considering could be for only 15 years with 15-year renewal options for residential-sized building sites (approximately 11,000 square feet) with an annual rent and other terms to protect and benefit the county.
These leases would then be offered for sale by the county in an initial offering on the open market.
Using Council Grove’s current situation as a guide, and the proposed lease being considered by our commissioners, the first of these three sites (40,440 square feet) would be worth $240,000 to $400,000 up front, and an annual rent of $2,200.
If our commissioners are determined to go ahead with development along the lakeshore of Marion County Lake, I am asking them to recognize and maximize the true value of these sites for the benefit of the true owners, the citizens of Marion County.
Leroy A. Wetta