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Idaho Falls signs off on $675,000 purchase of Northgate Mile stockyard, pending inspection

Idaho Falls

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The Idaho Falls City council just signed off on the purchase of land used as stockyards since the Great Depression. The property is centrally located on Northgate Mile and city council members hope its purchase will enhance revitalization efforts of downtown. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls City Council signed off on the purchase of the stockyards on Northgate Mile Thursday night.

Council members unanimously approved the contract during Thursday’s city council meeting to purchase the 8.2 acres owned by the Idaho Live Stock Commission Company of Bonneville County, for $675,000. The purchase is part of the city’s goal to revitalize and remediate older areas of town.

“Some may recall that last year the city received a $600,00 EPA grant designed to help with exactly the kind of situation you see on this property where there is land in possible need of remediation, “ Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper told EastIdahoNews.com. “We feel fortunate to have the property become available and to have the money to pay for the study, especially given the potential to help revitalize that particular area. We expect the results of the study to give us a good roadmap to help plan for future uses there.”

The purchase, recommended by the Municipal Services Department, is included as part of the 2018-2019 land acquisition budget. City spokesman Bud Cranor said purchasing land is all part of the city’s goals for growth and future needs.

In the purchase contract, the city can terminate the purchase agreement if the inspectors find issues in environmental testing and property inspection.

“What we’re doing right now is undertaking some environmental evaluations to look at the land to make sure that there is no contamination that would increase the cost of using that land,” Cranor said.

The property has a build-up of chemicals, fuel and materials left over from manure over the last 80 years of use.

The purchase of the land will fall into the thousands of undeveloped acres the city currently owns. Cranor says the properties provide the city availability to open green spaces, parks and build city services, such as an electrical substation or emergency services.

The location of the Idaho Livestock Auction, marked with a red pin. The City of Idaho Falls just signed off on the purchase of the 8.2 acres of property. | Google Maps

While the city has not specifically announced the plans for the acquired property, a police station is a possibility.

“Absolutely it’s a consideration,” Cranor said. “It’s obviously an attractive site for a potential police station but the Mayor and Council still have to make some decisions.”

The purchase of the land was reviewed by both the Municipal Services Department and Idaho Falls Police Department. Current projections provided by the police department and a Citizens Review Committee say the department would need at least five acres to build a new police station.

If the city decides to not build a police station at the Northgate Mile property, the city can utilize the land in other ways.

“This piece of property gives us the opportunity to kind of be in control, in the drivers seat of what we see going up at Northgate Mile,” Cranor said.

He said the city may consider using it as green space or sell it to a developer to build new offices or retail in the revitalization effort.

“It’s a good piece of land for the city,” Cranor said.

With the city council’s approval to sign off on the purchase, Idaho Falls will pay $10,000 for the parcel, with $5,000 non-refundable if they back out of the purchase. The city has until Nov. 11 to terminate purchase of the property.

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