Mt. Horace Greeley price tag set at $314K

EAGLE RIVER – The Mt. Horace Greeley site came a step closer to having a buyer Wednesday.

The Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners approved giving an opening sale price of $314,000 to a potential buyer from Florida.

Commissioner Ray Chase said the prospective Florida buyer owns several retirement communities and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and is considering a similar facility here.

The buyer has been ardent, checking in with Chase every 60 days, he said.

“We’ve been stalling,” Chase said. “We’ve talked about doing appraisals on it, we’ve talked about doing several things. We’re at the point where I’ve either got to tell this guy, ‘Yes, we will give you a figure to purchase …’ or ‘It’s not for sale.'”

The site was formerly used as an Air Force radar station. It was most recently the home of the Keweenaw Academy, a school for delinquent boys that closed in 2003.

Equalization assistant Elizabeth Anderson said she and Equalization Director Tom Novascone had estimated the value of buildings at the site at $80,000, although they were not able to measure two buildings on the site because of snow. Chase said land in the county is typically valued at $1,000 to $3,000 per acre. By multiplying the high-end value by 78.5 acres and adding the value of the buildings, he came up with the $314,000 starting offer.

The county would also have to retain control of the cellular towers on the site.

Another person has also expressed interest in the site for three to five years out, and another party has also recently come forward, Chase said.

By selling the site, Chase said, the county would eliminate a liability concern with the buildings, bring in money for the county, add money to the tax rolls and create jobs in the county.

“My personal opinion is, I think we ought to get rid of it,” he said.

Other board members said as long as the proper conditions were applied, the sale would be a positive thing.

“In the meantime, you could go to these other people and say, ‘Hey, he might have a sale for this thing. I know you’re three to five years out. Are you interested in it now?'” said Chair Don Piche.

In other action, the board:

set a Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. June 19. The hearing will allow the board to continue to levy 6.25 mills, as it did in 2012. Without the hearing, it could only levy a maximum of 6.1337 mills. The county’s expected tax collection with the hearing is $834,108, an increase of $15,521 over the no-hearing timeline.

approved using money from the county’s millage to repair its courthouse and put new furnaces in the courthouse and sheriff’s office. Chair Don Piche said the upgrades would cut the county’s heating costs in half.

approved entering into a grant agreement with the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission regarding the $5,000 Heritage Grant awarded to the park in 2012.

approved letting A-1 Toy Lets put a portable sanitation unit at the mouth of the Gratiot River for the summer.