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Sale of Civic Stadium property included deed restrictions.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Important strings were attached to the sale of Eugene's historic Civic Stadium to a private nonprofit group.

Deed restrictions imposed as part of last Monday's purchase of the stadium and surrounding property by the Eugene Civic Alliance allow the site to be used only as a sports and recreation complex.

The alliance intends to renovate the historic ballpark in south Eugene for that purpose. Kidsports, which belongs to the alliance, hopes to build an indoor fieldhouse on part of the property.

However, the use limitations would still apply if the volunteer groups fail to achieve their goals, or if the alliance one day sells the property.

That means - unless the restrictions are lifted - the nearly 10-acre property near South Eugene High School couldn't be used for a housing development, shopping center or some other purpose.

The restrictions are significant because the former property owner - the Eugene School District - twice in the past four years received offers from developers who wanted to build a Fred Meyer-anchored shopping center on the property center, and other developers who proposed student apartments and homes on the site.

The property limitations were included in the property sale deeds by the Eugene School District and city of Eugene, in collaboration with the buyer, the alliance, according to people involved in the transaction.

The deed restrictions are to ensure the property is used for community recreation for years to come, they said.

"Those restrictions were important to the school district, the city of Eugene, and the Civic Alliance," said Derek Johnson, of the alliance. "We all looked at the property and said, 'This is how the property should be used for many years to come.' It's supposed to be perpetual."

Also, in recognition of Kidsports' plans, the deed restrictions allow the construction of a fieldhouse "dedicated to the physical education and recreation" of the community's youth.

It's possible the Civic Stadium deed restrictions could be lifted. However, that would take the agreement of the school district, which had owned Civic Stadium for the past 78 years.

The Civic Stadium site is composed of two segments. The largest, covering 9.43 acres and zoned for public use, includes the wooden grandstand, land for the possible Kidsports fieldhouse, a parcel for a small city park, and the stadium parking lot.

Joe Silence, a title officer with Evergreen Land Title Co., said the zoning of land dictates its use.

"A seller can say, 'I will sell you this property with these restrictions,' but he can't put a restriction on the land that violates the land use zoning," he said.

The alliance now will try and raise money to renovate the 78-year-old wooden grandstand and to install an artificial turf field for soccer and other sports.

Kidsports will seek a grant and raise money to build a 44,000-square-foot fieldhouse for volleyball, basketball and other activities on the property.

After acquiring most of the stadium site, the alliance immediately sold a vacant 0.69-acre parcel north of the stadium parking lot to Market of Choice owner Rick Wright and two other investors.

Deed restrictions also apply to the use of the small parcel, but they don't dictate what the land can be used for.

Instead, they prohibit "any use that is incompatible with the values and mission" of the Eugene School District, such as adult bookstores and theaters, strip clubs, marijuana dispensaries and housing or treatment of sex offenders.

Eugene School Board Chairman Jim Torrey said the school district requested those restrictions because the property is near South Eugene High School and Roosevelt Middle School.

"We want to make sure that what takes place on the property is safe for the students next to it," he said.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edwardrusso. Email ed.russo@registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:Recreation; The Eugene School District, the city and the buyers all wanted to ensure the site is used for recreation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 2, 2015
Words:631
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