Board of Commissioners make site selection decision for public safety and justice campus

The Benton County Board of Commissioners met on January 21, 2022, for discussion and to reach a decision between two proposed sites for Justice System Improvement Program (JSIP) facilities. The meeting was well attended by the public, who were invited to comment in advance of a decision.

The two sites under consideration for JSIP facilities included a site in west Corvallis on Reservoir Road and a site in north Corvallis next to the Hewlett-Packard campus. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the north site—the McFadden Ranch site 1 mile north of downtown Corvallis—and directed staff to continue pursuing the property.

Site selection included a 20-month methodical evaluation of 40 different possible properties in the Corvallis area. For several months leading up to the Board’s decision, the County negotiated with a representative of McFadden Ranch, LLC, to purchase approximately 28 acres of the 85-acre site.

The objective of the negotiations, which began in September 2021, was to reach a negotiated purchase of the property. Unfortunately, Benton County was not able to reach an agreement with the property owner. While both the County and the property owner were sincere in their efforts to reach a negotiated purchase—which remains the preferred outcome by both parties to date—the County eventually contemplated the use of eminent domain.

Use of eminent domain was specific to the north Corvallis site and depended on two outcomes: 1) the Board of Commissioners selecting McFadden Ranch as the preferred campus site for justice system facilities; and 2) if negotiations to purchase the site faltered.

Driving both the Board’s January site-selection decision and ongoing negotiations or the possible use of eminent domain is the JSIP timeline and the planned May 2023 bond measure. The Board was compelled to identify the most compatible site, with the greatest public benefit and causing the least private injury, by the end of January 2022.

As such, the County adopted a two-prong strategy in advance of the January 2022 deadline; negotiating in good faith with a strong desire to enter into a negotiated purchase agreement, while also preparing for the possible use of eminent domain.