Lincoln City Councilors Monday night decided that it’s hard to begin to know what to do, to either develop or sell off land associated with the city’s recent purchase of “The Villages,” in north Lincoln City.
The Villages, for many years, has been a regular feature on city land use maps. The last attempt to develop the area was just before the 2008 Wall Street Crash and the ensuring worldwide recession. The developer saw his investment go up in smoke and wound up selling most of it to the city at a bargain basement price.
But those in the city who think that government has no business being in the land development business have been asking when will there be some movement on that part of town so the city can get its investment back. City Councilors kicked the idea around – Councilor Wes Ryan suggesting something akin to concentric zones of land use for The Villages – high density affordable housing in the middle, middle income housing out from there and finally luxury homes for the wealthy farther out yet.
But discussions also centered on how long the current The Villages plan has been on paper. Some said not much has been updated on it for a long time, so maybe city planning staff should be tasked with taking a fresh look and report back to council. There was a general consensus on the point. There also appeared to be some interest in selling off the Fernwood section for a quick cash infusion for the city.
Earlier, the city council public agenda included a reference to the city’s possible purchase of the Elks Lodge, just north of the Community Center. But no announcement came out of the executive session discussions.
Lincoln City seniors have long desired a facility of their own as opposed to being a part of the Community Center Building with the pool, work out areas, etc. If the city bought the Elk’s Lodge, it could knock the old building down (too full of asbestos and mold to save it) and build a spanking new senior center. The move would also free up space in the Community Center by moving senior programs over to the new facility. But again, no firm plans on that as yet. Negotiations continue with the Elks. The building was closed down earlier this year along with the disbanding of the club itself – declining membership rendering the club no longer financially sustainable.