Village Council turns down land grant

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:47 PM

Council voted 5-2 on Monday to officially decline the state funds. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant would have paid up to $92,500 of the purchase price for the parcel at the southeast corner of Exchange and School streets.

The village has been attempting to purchase the property from Bill Wipperfurth for several years. The land is often used for overflow parking during the annual Spring Lake Heritage Festival, Thursdays at the Point concerts and other park events.

Village Manager Chris Burns said there are too many unknown factors to make the purchase feasible under the village's present budget and cash-flow conditions.

Several council members called the land “a luxury.”

Burns said the purchase price of the property likely would have been in the $135,000 to $145,000 range.

“We're just not in a position to be able to pay that,” she said. “Looking at our five-year capital plan and where we're at financially, it's not a good time for us to make that investment. We would have to lay out a whole bunch of money and still might not come up with a price we can live with. Plus, it removes it from the tax roll permanently.”

Besides needing to negotiate a purchase price, the village would also have been responsible for an appraisal, title work and environmental expenses, which Burns said could have added another $8,000 or more to the village's costs in buying the land.

The land is in the area of a former dump and questionable soils were unearthed two years ago during excavation for a new restroom facility at Mill Point Park.

Wipperfurth called council's decision “nuts” and said he's considering fencing off the property.

“I don't want to let them use it anymore,” he said. “We don't care about doing that for the village anymore. I'm 81 years old — I can burn a few bridges if I want to. We waited and waited on this for probably four years. We never pushed a sale because they were always going to take it. It's all nuts.”

Wipperfurth said he is exploring his options for the property — including storage units, renting it out for flea markets and paid parking.

Wipperfurth said village resident Midge Verplank is currently the owner of record of the property. He said Verplank “loaned” him $90,000 until the grant came through and the village purchased the property.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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