City makes progress in Tater Tot Trail negotiations

Public Works Director Cliff Leeper points to the area owned by Walmart, in which the city is aiming to get an easement for a walking trail along the Snake River from the city’s water treatment plant to the I-84 interchange by Love’s Travel Stop.

ONTARIO

Ontario’s long-awaited connector trail along the Snake River is another step closer to seeing the light of day after the Ontario City Council approved a resolution on Thursday night during its work session.

Otherwise known as The Tater Tot Trail, a name that was proposed by Kraft Heinz one of the owners allowing an easement agreement for the trail to happen, the trail is intended to stretch along the snake river from the city’s water treatment plant, underneath the overpass on Idaho Avenue near Walmart and stretch all the way to the interchange near Love’s Travel Stop.

Other owners the city worked with on easement agreements include Oregon Department of Transportation and Walmart.

City Manager Adam Brown said a condemnation process which was on the agenda as new business with a resolution was the first step in the negotiations, “to acquire the property from Walmart.”

He stated how the corporation requested that the city go through the condemnation process in order to formally acquire the land being requested. Brown did clarify to those in attendance that “Walmart asked us to take this route,” adding, “it’s not adversarial at all.”

He said Community Development Director Dan Cummings “prepared a legal description of the property,” which is part of the condemnation process.

The next stretch of negotiations involves the larger portion of land that will comprise the trail and that is currently owned by Kraft Heinz. One of the stipulations of the city’s proposed agreement with Kraft Heinz included the naming of the trail.

And Brown says he finally got a conference call.

The city manager previously told the Argus that what made the proposed trail unique was the limited amount of property owners along the way that the city would have to work with on obtaining easement agreements in order to get public access to those areas paralleling lands owned by those entities.

Councilor Michael Braden made note of the possible risk in the city purchasing the piece of the land from Walmart before knowing whether or not an agreement with Kraft Heinz can be reached. Brown acknowledged that there is a risk, but remains hopeful in the city’s negotiations.

No dollar amount was mentioned, however in a follow-up interview this morning, Brown said, he did not know the cost. 

“That’s the next step,” he said, adding that it must be appraised, and that appraisal is slated to happen today.

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