The City of Kelowna’s newest waterfront acquisition, purchased with $2.7 million of taxpayers’ money, isn’t much to look at.
The front door is missing from the dilapidated small house built in 1948 at 3676 Lakeshore Rd., two lots north of Rotary Beach Park.
Inside, the red carpet looks well-worn, suggesting more than a few folks have tramped up the stairs to check out the home, or sleep inside it.
Fruit trees, once no doubt lovingly tended, have grown wild, and the rest of the property, covering four-tenths of an acre, is similarly unkempt.
But beyond the eyesore is a sight for sore eyes — a 21-metre-wide beach on a long stretch of sandy lakeshore. That’s what makes the property so valuable, and it’s why the city wanted to buy it for eventual public use.
“We’re excited to acquire this waterfront property for the eventual expansion of Rotary Park,” Ben Walker, of the city’s real estate division, said Tuesday.
But that expansion won’t happen until or unless the city is able to eventually buy the privately owned property immediately north of Rotary Park. It’s not for sale and has an assessed value of $3.4 million.
In the next few weeks, in the interest of public safety, the derelict house on the city’s newly acquired lot will be demolished.
After that, city officials will consider what kind of interim public use might be made of the property. Last year, the city opened up for public access a few similar waterfront parcels that were undeveloped and basically marooned between private properties.
Between Kinsmen and Strathcona parks, the city has been buying up waterfront property, severing off a public right-of-way above the high-water mark, and then reselling the properties to recoup some of its original investment. The idea is to acquire enough waterfront land to eventually build a new boardwalk linking the two parks.
But there’s no similar plan for the approximately 20 properties between Rotary Park and Boyce-Gyro Park, which have an average assessed value of $3.5 million.
Right now, it is possible to easily walk most, but not all, of the way along the waterfront between the two parks. Passage is impeded at the south end by large boulders on the beach at two properties.