City considers buying 4 parcels for possible expansion of Les Gove Park

End of an Auburn institution? The City is looking to buy the Daddy’s Drive In site and perhaps use the property to build a new entrance to Les Gove Park.  - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
End of an Auburn institution? The City is looking to buy the Daddy’s Drive In site and perhaps use the property to build a new entrance to Les Gove Park.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

The City wants to buy four parcels of real estate and their associated buildings next to Les Gove Park.

At a special meeting Monday, the Auburn City Council gave Mayor Nancy Backus the go-ahead to complete a purchase-and-sale agreement between the City and Dorko, Inc. a Fullerton, Ca.- based real estate holding company.

City leaders said on Monday they have no definite plans for this potential acquisition, but the most-talked-about idea has been to develop the parcels into a new entrance to Les Gove Park.

"It's for expansion of Les Gove Park and possible use of the existing buildings," Councilmember John Holman said after the unanimous vote. Councilmember Largo Wales was out of town.

City leaders were unable to disclose any possible price.

Here are the four properties and five buildings:

• The Big Daddy's Drive In site;

• The Herr Lumber site, with the building that housed the Auburn Library and its collection during the recent remodeling; and a taller warehouse.

• The former Butts Tobacco site, facing 12th Street and adjoining the Deal's Way entrance to Les Gove Park;

• The former site of ACAP Daycare, today an abandoned hot dog stand, likewise facing 12th Street and adjoining Deal's Way.

Between Monday's decision and any purchase, however, looms a 60-day due-diligence period. This interval is intended to allow the City to check out the properties before purchase. The clock started ticking Tuesday and stops May 20.

During the first 35 days of the due-dilegence period, investigators are to complete a preliminary review of site conditions. This calls for them to assess the parcels for any possible contamination and collect all available data from the state of Washington and other public sources.

Planning and Community Development Director Kevin Schneider said investigators will likewise asssess each of the five buildings for structural integrity and for asbestos and lead contamination.

In this first phase, samplings of the ground are to be taken at surface level only.

If investigators should find anything warranting additional investigation during this time period, the council would authorize Phase 2. If nothing is found, however, the council would then authorize Mayor Backus to continue working on the purchase and sale agreement to its completion.

The cost of this more intensive phase — it could involve ground borings — is unknown.

"If anything is found at the end of Phase 1, we'll tell (Dorko Inc), 'You either extend [the due diligence period) or we do not purchase the property," City Attorney Dan Heid told City leaders. "Phase 2 would not be triggered until the point that the report has come back to you."

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