The Board of the Grays Harbor Transit Authority this afternoon will consider leasing a piece of property at the corner of H and Market Street to the City of Aberdeen. A June 6th letter from Mayor Erik Larson requests a one-year agreement for “an annual lease rate of $12,000 for the purpose of the City providing for a homelessness mitigation site,” for an undeveloped lot near the Aberdeen Transit Station at 303 E Market Street.

UPDATE:

The proposed lease agreement would level the site with gravel, fence it entirely, and pave a portion. The agreement would also seek to indemnify the Transit Authority from any claims or lawsuits that might arise from what could become the city’s first organized homeless encampment, within blocks of city hall, fire, and the police departments.

In 2017 the Transit Authority purchased the property at the corner of Market and H streets from the county’s tax-titled auction. The city of Aberdeen was also flipping a paddle at that auction, but the Transit won the purchase of the property at $148,500.00. Since the purchase, the Authority has considered some options.

Just a month after the purchase the Transit Authority was considering additional parking, offices, or bus access for the property.

The lease agreement states that the city will not sublease the premises, will not build without their consent, and that the city would remove all structures from the property at the end of the lease. It does not address the current issue the city is having with their own property along the Chehalis River, and that is; what happens when the Transit Authority wants to end the lease and remove everyone allowed to live there up to that point?

303 East Market Street in Aberdeen

The lease agreement only states, “The City shall use the premises for a public camping mitigation site, and shall not use them for any other purpose without the written consent of the Authority, The City shall use the entire premises for the conduct of a public camping mitigation site according to reasonable and best practices continuously during the term of this Lease and any renewals or extensions hereof.”

Larson’s letter is quoted, “The City of Aberdeen is requesting Grays Harbor Transit Authority consider the attached lease offer for 303 E Market St, an undeveloped lot near the Aberdeen Transit Station. Per the offer, a one-year agreement is requested at an annual lease rate of $12,000 for the purpose of the City providing for a homelessness mitigation site. We believe this offer represents fair-market value, as the rate offered is slightly above the industry standard range of 6% to 8% of the current Assessed Value of $148,500. In addition to the offered monetary compensation, the City is also offering to make improvements to the property to include gravel fill and partial paving of the site.”

It continued, “To minimize any impacts to the adjacent transit facility, the property would be surrounded on all sides by privacy fencing, with access limited to a single gated entrance on South H Street and 24/7 on-site security. It is the intent of the City for this to be a one-year program at this site, and we respect Grays Harbor Transit’s future plans for the property. It is my request this item be brought to the Board at the June 11th meeting for consideration, and would gladly answer any questions or concerns there may be regarding this proposal.”

The Grays Harbor Transit Board meets monthly on the second Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the GHT Meeting Room located at 705 30th Street, Hoquiam, WA

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