by Brent Hovey
Aurora -- If it was solely up to four members of City Council, the city would begin the process to sell the former Chesnes house and a small parcel around it.
That was the recommendation of the four- person Council subcommittee assembled June 14 to look into options for use or disposal of the property on East Mennonite Road just east of Sunny Lake Park.
At its final meeting, the subcommittee unanimously agreed that a sale would benefit the city the most.
"We looked at tearing it down, doing nothing or selling it," said Ward 5 Councilman-panel chairman Jim Fisher. "In the end, selling it makes the most sense.
"It's a responsible decision because we're spending taxpayers' money every year on the house. We can't use it for city purposes unless it's brought up to code for public use, and that cost is too great."
At its Feb. 22 meeting, the panel was given the figure of $833,000 as a fair market value for the 22 acres by Howard Hanna Smythe Cramer realtor Joe Leslie.
At that session, Councilman Robert Galaska Jr. noted since the property was bought with funds from a $6.5 million land preservation bond issue, cash re-ceived from a sale must go for recreation or parks.
"I believe we should use the money to benefit all citizens," he said. "Perhaps some of it could go toward our 'Save Sunny Lake' efforts or toward buying other land."
THE PANEL included Ward 3's Carl Rausch and At-Large Councilmen Joe Kastelic and Galaska. The latter was unable to attend the final meeting, but told Fisher he would be in favor of selling the property.
The recommendation to Council will be to set aside the house, barn and about 22 acres for sale. The exact acreage will be determined prior to the matter going to Council.
Panelists said they would not rush to put the sale idea before Council, but it likely will go on the July 9 meeting agenda.
Rausch said that will give the panel time to put together everything it needs to, including a layout of the exact land it wants to sell, "so Council can make a good decision."
Fisher said he is "pretty sure" there are a few Councilmen who will oppose the recommendation. Law Director Alan Shorr explained a simple 5-4 majority would be needed to go forward with the sale.
After making its recommendation, the panel discussed what to expect from the selling process.
Panelists said the recommendation is expected to go through three Council readings. Shorr said if the measure is approved, the city would advertise the property for five weeks.
"We'll end up with some sort of bidding process," Shorr said. "But the city doesn't have to accept a bid."
Rausch considered putting some "lipstick" on the house before selling. "We might want to do some inexpensive upgrades to better present it," he suggested.
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