Sunnyside spent millions on land parcel, still unused 7 years on

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside spent millions of your taxpayer money to buy a feedlot and resell it., part of shedding the "Smellyside" image. But the lot is for sale, and no one's buying.

The land is right off the freeway. Sunnyside figured it was prime property for a developer and plunked down $2.5 million for it back in 2007. It had to spend even more to prepare it for a sale.

Almost 150 acres - unused, undeveloped - right off the Yakima Valley Highway.

The land belongs to Sunnyside, paid for by you, the taxpayers. The city paid $2.5 million to own the land and get rid of the feedlot that sat there. Leaders hoped to sell it to developers, resulting in a business park.

KIMA asked Sunnyside City Manager Don Day, "What is the City of Sunnyside doing, if anything, to actively market this property to try and sell it?"

"The city has done nothing to actively market it since I've been here," said Day. "There was a sign out on the field, and that's about the only marketing we've done."

Theresa Robertson lives a mile away from the property. She's not sure marketing is the answer.

"I don't see how they can sell it when it's surrounded by cattle," she said.

Day blames the lack of interested buyers on the recent economic downturn and nitrates in the land.

"In my personal opinion, and that's what it is, that land is not going to develop in the foreseeable future," he said. "And by that, I mean five or six, seven, eight, ten - maybe even more years than that - before that land will develop."

Meantime, you're on the hook for the upkeep.

"We are the responsible property owner, so we are responsible for keeping the weeds down," said Sunnyside Planning Supervisor Jamey Ayling.

KIMA asked if there's anything more the city can do to sell the land.

"Absolutely, and that falls, quite frankly, on me," said Day. "I've been focused more on other issues, and that has just been sitting there in the background."

But, the purchase is still at the forefront of some neighbors' minds. Making Theresa...

"Angry. It does, because it was a waste."

The only way forward, it seems, is to sell the property, once and for all.

Day told KIMA several potential buyers have been "sniffing the air," and that the city might build a park on the property or erect another high school there. But, no deals have been done, and nothing is set in stone.
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