City of Ashland looks to purchase Hardesty land

ASHLAND, Ore.– The city of Ashland is preparing to expand it’s wastewater treatment plant to meet new regulations coming out. In order to do that, they’re looking at purchasing land from the family of a man who went missing last year.

The 21-acre plot of land located on the outskirts of the city belong to a missing former NASCAR racer. Harold Hardesty, who went missing in April 2017, was a longtime member of the community.  Police called off the search for him this spring.

Now under the Hardesty trust, his family is looking to sell the land with the city being one of the most interested parties. The city says it’s a perfect location for it’s intended expansions of the Ashland Wastewater Treatment Center just right across the creek.

“It was almost too good to be true,” said Paula Brown, public works director. “We saw the “For Sale” sign and we were looking for property where we could do some of the wetland’s mitigation for temperature corrections.”

The city says they’re expecting to meet new Department of Environmental Quality regulations – with this purchase they can do that and more.

“We have the wetlands treatment, we have moving the outfall to Bear Creek,” said Brown. “Discharges from Reeder Reservoir during certain times of the year and also doing some temperature shading along the creek.”

The city would also use the acquired land as a new location for the current debris yard on B Street. Proposals from city staff suggest that the lot on B Street be sold to cover funds from the debris yard.

However, the city wants to tread with the utmost respect after Hardesty’s untimely disappearance.

“I think the closure is very difficult. It would be for me and we’re trying to be sensitive to that,” said Brown.

The city says they’ll work out some way of honoring Hardesty and the mark he left on the community.

“We want to be able to honor Harold and somehow pay tribute to what he’s done to our community for these many years,” said Brown.

For now, the city just needs the approval of the council before it can start setting things in motion. Money that would be used to purchase the land would come from mostly the wastewater fund and several other city funds.

The Ashland City Council will be meeting this evening to decide whether they should move forward with the purchase.

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