Downtown West Salem might soon have a lot more parking spots.
The village has submitted an offer to Kevin and Eileen Fossum, owners of Contract Supply, to purchase their properties at 140. S. Mill St. and 136 E. Elm St.
The offer on the Mill St. property is for $130,000, with a proposed closing date of May 30, 2018.
The offer for the Elm St. property is for $70,000, with a proposed closing date of Jan. 31, 2019. The offer includes a provision that the Fossums reserve the right to void and cancel the offer on or before Nov. 30, 2018.
The West Salem Village Board voted unanimously during its regular board meeting last week to make the offers.
The Fossums have until March 15 to accept or reject the offers before they become void.
Board president Dennis Manthei said plans for the Mill St. property – the site of a former Hansen’s IGA building – would be to tear down the vacant building and put in a parking lot.
Local business owners, he said, have commented on the lack of available parking in the downtown area.
“Representatives from the (West Salem Business Association) had come to the board commenting on lack of parking in downtown,” Manthei said. “One way to get more parking is to acquire the old IGA building and the land around it.”
Tim Groth, owner of Westview Inn and a WSBA member, said he thinks downtown parking has been a problem for about 20 years, and that the Mill St. site would be the perfect location for a parking lot.
“The village is very weak in parking,” said Groth, who has gone before the board on a couple occasions to encourage them to find more land for parking.
Manthei said the village had previously been interested in purchasing the parcels years ago when they were up for sale by Farmers Co-Op. However, they backed off of negotiations when the Fossums showed interest.
If acquired by the village, the building on Elm St. – the site of a former Ace Hardware building – is not expected to be torn down.
The village has proposed a closing date for that property all the way out to 2019 as to provide some flexibility.
“It’s not that we want to be in the business of developing anything, just to let the owner know he can sell both parcels,” Manthei said.
He said, it would be nice to see the premises and area around it preserved for a potential business opportunity.
While the village has a little money to work with, he said funding for purchase the parcels would likely come in the form of a loan.
“We probably would have to vote as a village board to borrow some money,” Manthei said.