La PORTE — The city and county are working together to swap some land between the two entities.
The La Porte City Council introduced a resolution supporting and approving the exchange of the parking lot between the La Porte County Circuit Courthouse and the La Porte County Complex, also known as the “Horseshoe,” for the the Don George Property located at 150 Pine Lake Ave.
The “Horseshoe,” is currently city property and the Don George property is owned by La Porte County. Through the passage of the resolution, the city and county would exchange the properties, and better suit their collective interests.
The council deliberated on the exchange at the June 3 meeting of the Common Council.
"At face value, obviously I think the Don George Property looks much more valuable than the tiny, little Horseshoe between the county buildings," said Councilman Miles Fettinger.
Fettinger asked for clarification on the potential encumbrances of the exchange. He pointed out to the council that the Don George property was once home to a service station, which could perhaps be in need of some clean up and incur cost to the city.
The La Porte City Attorney Nick Otis invited Bert Cook of the La Porte Economic Enhancement Partnership up to the podium to elaborate.
"The property hasn’t been used or [taxed] in many years," said Cook. "It is located at kind of a key place in the city — sort of adjacent to NewPorte Landing and [it is] a place that has been well traveled — lets put it that way. I think that the opportunity cost of not doing anything with it far outweighs any costs of putting property back into use. We have had a significant amount of interest from the private sector. The hardest part up to this point has been determining how it might change hands.”
Fettinger responded to the information, “I would love to see it developed. Anytime there is property on one of our lakes I always want to make sure we’re not opening a Pandora’s Box and putting us in a difficult situation [later]. It sounds encouraging and hopefully things will take off.”
Discussion continued between Cook and Councilwoman Laura Cutler.
“I think this is positive for the county, as well, because I do recall many times in the past where people in that parking area [have gotten] stuck in the courthouse for hours and [have gotten] tickets. If [the Horseshoe] becomes [county property] and they choose to facilitate it [for parking] it seems like that would a positive thing,” said Cutler.
Cook replied, “I think it’s also nice to be able to show that the city and the county are working together to benefit both entities.”
The City Council voted to adopt the resolution as presented.