SEASIDE - The Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District will purchase the Annie Abel house and property for $150,000 after unanimous board approval at Thursday's special meeting and public hearing.

The 1,100-square-foot house on a 100-by-100 square-foot lot is located at 1181 Broadway Drive, across the street from the Sunset Pool. The district will use $125,000 generated by refunding flex leases at a lower interest rate to buy the property. The tax-exempt financing program could only be used for this capital purchase. The remaining $25,000 will be raised by an "Abel'ness Fundraiser." There would be no increase in district resident tax rates, said SEPRD Executive Director Mary Blake.

The house belongs to the family of a former neighbor of the Sunset Pool, Annie Abel. The family approached the district last year to ask if it would be interested in purchasing the property.

Blake said she is willing and "Abel" to help support the fundraising effort. She will match dollar-per-dollar up to $12,500 to help the District purchase the property.

"I really percolated for a while about what this meant to me and the legacy I could leave by doing this," she said. "We've never done a project without community support. People can be a part of a bigger picture. They are honored to be invested in the Park and Recreation District's future."

Already, Blake has received more than $1,118 in donations, which she has matched.

Purchasing the Able house would give the district adequate space for administrative and maintenance operations. It would also provide a safe place for confidential documents, archives and human resource records. The space at the pool that is now used for offices and maintenance would be transformed into fee-based health, wellness and fitness services for community use.

Two residents spoke against purchasing the Abel house and transforming the office and maintenance area at the Sunset Pool into a fitness space. They said they felt that an additional community fitness area is not needed and it would compete with other fitness businesses in the area.

Blake believes the Abel house is worth much more to the District than to any other agency or individual. It will secure the land for public park and recreation use. Future partnerships may then be developed to secure other land between the Sunset Pool and the Bob Chisholm Community and Senior Center for recreation purposes.

"We haven't even begun to dream about the future," she said.

In other action, the board held a goal-setting session with facilitator Bill Barrons, a former Clatsop County city manager. He has also facilitated goal sessions with the Seaside and Manzanita city councils. He first asked everyone to write down all their ideas and goals for the district and then wrote 48 major goals and ideas on a chart. After clarification and discussion, he helped the board narrow the list to 12 strong goals.

"These are goals that hopefully can be launched and implemented within a two-year period," Blake said. "We will now receive staff input on these goals."

The public will also have a chance to give their opinions of the goals at future board meetings. Blake hopes a final list of goals will be adopted in January 2004. Possible goals include:

• A plan to develop both the Abel house and the future fitness space at the Sunset Pool.

• Develop a Broadway Park partnership with the city and school district.

• Develop programs to work with the at-risk population and all kinds of families.

• Consider fee schedules and develop a volunteer committee to examine scholarship programs.

• Expand the district boundaries, possibly into Gearhart and Cannon Beach.

The next board meeting will be held at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Chisholm Community Center, 1225 Avenue A.

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