WAUSAU — The city paid $1.1 million in September for 87.7 acres of land, much of which lies within the village of Maine, as part of a long-range plan for a future water well, according to city documents.
The total assessed value of the land purchased is $476,900, less than half of the city’s purchase price, according to Marathon County land records. The sale was recorded Sept. 27 by the Marathon County Register of Deeds.
The property, formerly owned by Mathy Construction, includes a mix of commercial, residential, undeveloped, and forest land centered on addresses at 700 Bugbee Ave. and 1805 N. Burek Ave. The Wausau City Council on July 18 voted 10-1 to approve the sale, with Dennis Smith casting the lone nay vote.
At the July 18 meeting, council member Romey Wagner questioned why the city needed to acquire 87.7 acres for a future potential well, noting that wells in the city typically cover less than one third of an acre. But Public Works Director Eric Lindman explained that the previous owner did not want to sell just one piece of the property.
In addition, Lindman said, the property holds “potential development possibilities” for the property by the city. Wausau is unable to annex land within the village of Maine, an issue that has been hotly contested in the legal system since December 2015, when Maine incorporated into a village.
Wausau has performed test drilling in the area, Lindman told council members, and tests at the site showed promise with the best quantity and quantity of water available.
“This is long-term planning,” Lindman said. “We don’t foresee a new well for about 8 to 10 years.”
The city is using all of its current wells, two of which are being used around the clock, Lindman said.
Council member Pat Peckham asked Lindman if he believed paying roughly $12,540 an acre for the land was reasonable. Lindman said he worked with the assessment department about a year ago trying to determine a value for the combined properties, which he said would be at about $8,000 per acre on the low end and between $12,000 and $13,000 per acre on the high end.
“We’re on the high end,” Lindman said. “[The price] started out at $1.3 million and we came to an agreement at $1.1 million.”
During the meeting, council member Joe Gehin said he firmly believed that buying the property is in the best interest of the city as a way to protect the water supply.