The Town of Porter will likely soon own the piece of waterfront land called for in its comprehensive plan.

Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns the 39-acre parcel near Dietz Road, has been holding private talks with the town board for several months since it decided to unload the 778 acres it owns in the town. The other land, divided into two parcels, is being marketed publicly.

The town board authorized $1 million in funds to buy the land in a 4-1 vote Tuesday. Attorneys for the town and Magna are now hammering out the final wording of the sale, and it could be closed by the end of the year unless a permissive referendum is requested by residents.

“We would be crazy not to do it because it is such an excellent price,” Councilwoman Nancy Orsi said. “People in this community should have greenspace with waterfront access because we’re bound on both sides by water, but own absolutely none.”

Magna asked $950,000 for the property, and the purchase price includes extra costs like lawyers fees, Orsi said. The money will be taken from a capital fund consisting of money from the CWM Chemical Services Host Community Agreement. There is $1 million left in the fund.

A portion of the land sits on Lake Ontario, and includes park infrastructure, including a pavilion, that the town plans to turn into a park. It was used by previous owners Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Hooker Chemical Co. for company parties.

The move was met with some opposition as residents have expressed worry about the costs of maintaining parkland, said Jeff Baker, the recently re-elected councilman who cast the one opposition vote.

“I’m not against having a park,” Baker said. “I’m against increasing the town people’s taxes to maintain a park.”

Baker said the move should have been put to town residents for a vote, and said he wished more solid plans were put in place as to how to pay park maintenance. He was open to Orsi’s suggestion of creating a separate fund and requesting private donations to maintain the space, but pointed out it would have to be sustained for a long period of time.

“I didn’t want the park, but now that we have it, I’m going to try to do the best I can to make this park work self-sufficiently,” he said.

The purchase had the support of Supervisor Merton Wiepert, a voting member of the board, who laid out potential uses for the land and said the waterfront property will now be available for future generations of town residents. Hiking and cross-country skiing trails could be developed there and it is a good place for weddings, he said.

“This is for future residents to have access to the lake and thus make a recreational area of it,” he said. “There is a lot of possibilities.”

The town board is in the process of creating a committee to explore possible uses for the space which will come together if the sale is finalized, Wiepert said.

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