With no one sure how the evening would turn out, only a single member of the Grand Traverse County Board voted against a motion to sell the 160 acre Whitewater Township property to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. The rest were convinced that the GTRLC bid offered more value than what could be measured in dollars.
The GTRLC was supported by dozens of trail users that gathered at the Governmental Center, almost all of them raising green cards to support the many points in favor accepting the Conservancy's bid. Throughout public statements and a presentation for on the four bids, it was clear to both the board and everyone on hand that public opinion was strong behind the 'third' big, as presented in order of receipt from Coldwell Banker Schmidt.
After hearing from the GTRLC and DNR, the board acknowledged that public opinion had pointed out the value of the recreational use and existing recreational zoning. The GTRLC was not the highest, but the short-term advantages of $95,000, the difference to the highest bid, are hard to measure without knowing how the loss of the parcel would harm the influx of tourism for the Iceman Cometh, Mud, Sweat and Beers and other area events that use the 160 acre parcel.
The board reminded itself, really, that the parcel was purchased for just $60,000, making any sale to any party a solid investment. The GTRLC's plan to sell the land to the DNR in the future, and with both parties voicing their commitment to paying taxes on the land, were enough to convince any doubt on the board, save one. Commission Clous' most immediate concern was the $5,000 difference in fees the real estate company would lose by not taking the higher bid, a concern not shared by the room filled with his constituents whose interests he represents.
Tonight, we came together to support the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy's efforts to provide protection and stewardship in our area. This parcel of pristine Pere Marquette Forest has a value beyond dollars and provides a value accessible to everyone with a love of the trails. Thank YOU for your hard work, your time, and your efforts in emailing, calling, and rallying to the Governmental Center tonight. It was your emails and your efforts that truly gave this bid to the right group, and for all the right reasons.