Support Letter on Gray-Land Buy Gets Yellow Light

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A letter of support related to the potential acquisition of about 1,750 acres of Anderson-Middleton property located near Grayland was put on “pause” today by county commissioners pending the provision of additional information on the topic.

Potential buyer Ducks Unlimited, “the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation,” received a yellow light on the support letter it sought from the commission. All three county commissioners indicated they wanted more details and specifics on the potential land buy before issuing such a letter.

Representatives of Ducks Unlimited requested a “letter of support” from the commission in order to proceed with the acquisition process. The request was neither approved nor denied. Commissioners Raines, Cormier and Gordon were unwilling to sign on to such a letter at this point, mostly due to too many “maybes,” unanswered issues and lingering questions that have yet to be addressed concretely. Think Jell-o. As in, Not.Ready.Yet.

Commissioner Frank Gordon noted that the Westport City Council put its decision on hold for a couple of weeks pending additional information regarding on-site wells on the Anderson-Middleton land. Commissioner Vickie Raines said she received public input related to drainage ditch issues.

Raines also said she was “frustrated” by a recent Facebook post saying that the commission is “stopping” the potential land buy. She disputed the charge. “That is not true,” said Raines. “This is a private transaction. Commissioner permission is not needed to buy or sell the land.”

Continued Raines, “Anderson-Middleton can do what they want with their property. They don’t need our support.” Raines noted that the issue before the commission is a letter of support requested by Ducks Unlimited so they can pursue funding sources. Raines added that her preference is to let the City of Westport deal with the matter (of signing on to a letter of support) because the city is most directly affected by the potential land buy.

Commissioner Gordon said the Port also has concerns about drainage issues on the property.

Commissioner Cormier said he’d “like to see a plan” before considering a letter of support.

Today’s “on hold” decision came after a couple weeks of discussion on the subject with input from reps of Ducks Unlimited, the Laidlaw Island Hunting Club, and community activists/outdoor enthusiasts. It is a private land sale using public funds (state and federal buck$).

The land is situated on an estuary area off Highway 105, near Brady’s Oysters and Elk River. A mix of timberland and wetlands, the Anderson-Middleton acreage in question is adjacent to property owned by the Laidlaw Island  Hunting  Club. Club members worry about the effect the proposed purchase may have on their property and property rights, especially if any plans for development or access through their land are involved. That point remains unclear at present.

For more, see last week’s post on this subject. Additional background can be found here.

Stay tuned.