Thursday, August 20, 2009

Five bucks for a ski cabin?


by guest blogger Mike Murphy

On Wednesday we held an auction for more than two dozen cabins on property we recently purchased for a bridge project near Mount Baker. Some of the cabins went for as little as five or 10 dollars. But here’s the catch: the buyers must move the cabins from the state-owned land by the end of September. One house mover told me that could cost between $5000 and $7000 for the smaller cabins. The buyers also had to pay a refundable bond of at least $5000 to ensure they actually followed through.




So why were we offering the cabins so cheaply? Simply put, it’s a win for everyone involved. WSDOT would have had to spend more than $100,000 in your taxpayer dollars to demolish the cabins and haul the debris to a landfill. Instead, we saved that money, recycled the cabins and gave the winning bidders a great bargain.

It’s also an example of our environmental stewardship. We recycle all the time. Concrete on I-5 in Seattle is being sent to a recycler. Old tree stumps were used as a wildlife habitat in a wetland on SR 202. We’re even recycling asphalt on a SR 542 by removing the old asphalt, remixing it and laying it back down. But rarely do we sell houses or cabins.

The cabins were part of the former Glacier Creek Lodge in the small town of Glacier, about 35 miles east of Bellingham. In addition to the cabins, the two-story, 2,150 square foot lodge also went on the auction block.

So what will happen to the cabins and lodge now? I talked to one buyer who purchased seven of the cabins. He owns a RV park in the area and plans to move the cabins there and rent them out.

As for the lodge, three local businessmen bought it for $2700 and plan to move it a few miles down the road to use either as a home or rental unit. Most of the buildings will stay in that local community.

Once the buildings are cleared out we will begin construction of a taller bridge over Gallop Creek on SR 542 (Mount Baker Highway). The creek’s streambed has risen over the years, leaving less room for the creek to flow under the bridge. The creek washes down large boulders and debris, and it backs up at the bridge, creating a potential flood that can wash out the highway. The new, taller bridge will prevent that from happening.

By the way, if you ever want to bid on surplus state land, you can find more information on our Real Estate Services page. You can also find more photos of the cabins on flickr.

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