A lien has been placed on the property in Sutherlin a developer wants to turn into a theme park, which along with permitting issues, have put the project in limbo.
The original deadline for Oregon Only Development CEO Bruce Brunette to close on the county-owned property was Monday, according to the option to purchase agreement. In order to close, Brunette has to put down $500,000 toward the $1.2 million purchase price, the agreement states.
The county gave Brunette an extra two weeks to close after it was discovered that a construction lien had been placed on the property. The lien was filed on Oct. 7 by the Salem engineering firm Project Delivery Group in the amount of $77,480. The firm performed surveys, prepared plans and did design work for Oregon Only Development, according to the lien.
Both Brunette and Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice, who has been involved in discussions on the land buy, say that the lien is warrantless and nothing to worry about. Brunette said Project Delivery Group hasn’t done any work for him. Boice said liens can’t be placed on public property.
“I asked for a two-week extension to clean the lien up,” Boice said. “We’re still on schedule to close on that deal. We hope that the lien can be all cleaned up and we can go ahead and close.”
Brunette said he asked the county for a four-week extension but was only granted two weeks. He also said the biggest hurdle for him has been the myriad government regulatory agencies who have oversight on the development of the property.
The 126-acre site contains a 36-acre pond, and much of the rest of it is considered wetlands, Brunette said. Mitigating the development of the wetlands and what that might cost, in terms of money and time, has been an ongoing concern, he said.
“We’re trying to determine how long it’s going to take and how long it’s going to cost to mitigate on that property,” Brunette said. “You’re dealing with seven or eight state agencies and they don’t work together.
“We bought another two weeks to make sure that we’re not buying a white elephant.”
If Brunette doesn’t close on time, he stands to lose his rights to purchase the property and the $25,000 he put down. If Brunette does meet the closing deadline and pays the $500,000, the contract calls for the balance to be paid out over the next 18 months at 6% interest.
Brunette’s plan calls for a theme park located just off Interstate 5 that hopes to draw visitors from miles around by featuring Oregon-centered activities, including a museum, water park, fishing, boating and an outlet mall. Brunette also plans to build a hotel, convention center and RV park on the site.
This is not the first time Brunette has waited until the deadline in his effort to purchase the property. He exercised the option to purchase the land on Sept. 17 of this year — six months after he negotiated the contract with the county, and on the last day he had to exercise the option.
Brunette has touted the park as something that will provide a much-needed economic boost to the region.
“What we’re trying to do is create a new concept to drive tourism and to drive industry and jobs in a rural community,” he said earlier. “We’re making a big investment in the community down there.”
Plans call for the park to be built in phases, Brunette has said, meaning its economic impact will continue to grow over the years.
That potential significant and long-term economic boost, especially at a site that has been vacant and off the tax rolls for decades, has local officials excited. They point to the estimated 150 temporary jobs the project will provide to build the park and another 150 permanent jobs it will eventually take to run it.