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Interest growing in sale of Barker property

BARKER – The Village of Barker is advertising the sale of a large piece of property it has owned since 2007 in the heart of the municipality and, after eight years without a nibble, the site is attracting some attention.

Mayor Aaron Nellist said interest has been expressed by two parties who he said he is not at liberty to reveal. He said having more than one party interested will help the village establish “fair market value” for the site and will aid in an “open, competitive process.”

The Village Board will entertain formal, written offers until noon Oct. 5 and plans to review the offers and consider proposed uses for the site at a 6 p.m. work session that day and could possibly make a decision at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 12. Nellist said the Planning Board also would review the proposed plans before a decision is made.

The 4.33-acre site was formerly owned by the Birds Eye Corp. and includes three vacant, one-story dormitory buildings and a 16-foot by 20-foot pavilion. It is zoned for light industrial use, but there are no hook-ups for water, sewer, gas or electricity.

The dorm buildings are approximately 3,000 square feet, 2,700 square feet and 2,400 square feet and are in poor exterior condition, with missing and broken windows. The entire property is assessed at $56,200.

For many years, Birds Eye operated a processing plant and provided housing for migrant workers on the large site in the center of Barker. Birds Eye later sold the larger portion of the property to Mayer Bros. for warehousing, and the smaller portion of seven acres to the village in 2007 for $20,000. Village officials at the time said they hoped to use the property to attract small businesses.

“We’re looking for the right partner,” said Nellist. “Of course, we’d like to get the money back from our original investment. But equally as important, we need to get the right match. That would be a business that could open in a minimal amount of time, because the sooner it can function as a business, the better for the village. We’re looking for a business that would really add to the village. And, we’re looking for someone who can employ our local citizens. So, there are a lot of different things to weigh when we make our decision.”

The village moved its police department into one of the vacant buildings on the site and sold two other buildings.

The former plant firehouse was sold to Matt Wendler, who has not yet rehabilitated it. A 50-year-old former cafeteria building was purchased nearly four years ago by Greg and Erin Goodlander, who have established Barker Brewing, where they create craft beer and operate a small restaurant.

The village is requiring a written offer expressing the amount the prospective owner is willing to pay; a written plan detailing the intended use and time frame needed to establish the plan; and a detailed site map of intended use and layout.

“The village needs to make the buyer completely aware that there are no utilities back there – none – and that would be the buyer’s responsibility,” to hook up, said Nellist.

“These are cinder block buildings, so I think the integrity of the buildings is there. I haven’t been inside of them, but I think the insides are pretty rough. But, it’s almost like having a blank slate.

“It’s a unique set-up back there,” he added. “It lends itself to creative people and it’s an exciting time to see what will happen there.”

Village Clerk Amanda Detschner added that while the village will bear the cost of the search and survey, the prospective buyer will be responsible for the majority of the closing costs.

She also noted that Village Hall will be closed Sept. 28 through Oct. 1, because she will be out of town for training and the deputy clerk will be on vacation.

For more information, call Village Hall at 795-3777, or visit during office hours, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.