Citizens mount effort to buy falls access

FALLS CITY -- A citizens' group is proposing a tax levy to help pay for buying access to the north side of the falls along the Little Luckiamute River in Falls City.

FALLS CITY -- A citizens' group is proposing a tax levy to help pay for buying access to the north side of the falls along the Little Luckiamute River in Falls City.

The group -- The Little Luckiamute Alliance to Save the Falls -- formed shortly after the conclusion of the city of Falls City's eminent domain case, which failed to force the sale of property with direct access to the falls.

"We are determined to get those falls back," said member Janelle Anzalone.

She said a similar group formed after the property owner cut off public access to the falls back in 2008. When the city council took on the cause, the group disbanded.

Members of the reformed alliance have been meeting for the last month. The group's first step was sending a letter to the owner of the falls property, Judith Bent, with an offer for the remaining land not under city ownership.

Anzalone said the letter was sent July 1.

"Right now we are seeing if she will respond," Anzalone said.

On Thursday, July 8, during a special council meeting the alliance asked for the city council's support for a five-year, $150,000 bond levy to acquire the falls, said alliance spokesman Dennis Sickels. He said the plan is for the council to put the bond on the ballot for the November election. The city council agreed to have the alliance work on language for the ballot title for the next two weeks and then reconvene to review the proposal.

As of now, the proposal would amount to about 89 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on properties.

Sickels said the group has plans for the property, perhaps adding it to the existing city park on the south side of the falls.

But before looking too far into the future, the group first must acquire the land.

"The first step is to find out if the property owner is willing to sell it," Sickels said.

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