Tofino’s locally cherished Monks Point property is officially in the community’s hands.
The district has purchased the property— 174 Grice Road—from The Land Conservancy (TLC) for $250,000 in a three-player deal that included Carlyon Holdings relieving TLC of $1 million in debt.
Harold Monks bequeathed the property to TLC in 2008 with the belief that it would be maintained and preserved for the benefit of the local community but the conservancy filed for creditor protection in 2013 and began selling off its properties in an effort to pay off roughly $8 million in debt.
Fearing Monks Point would fall into the hands of a developer who did not share Monks’ vision for its preservation, Tofino attempted to purchase the property for $250,000 in July of 2014 but the TLC rejected this offer.
The district never eased up on its efforts to buy the land and this persistence paid off as Carlyon Holdings—one of several creditors the TLC is trying to pay back—agreed to relieve TLC of $1 million worth of debt if it sold the land to Tofino.
Before Carlyon would go through with the deal the company needed assurance that Tofino would preserve the land for the community’s benefit and asked the district to pass a bylaw designating Monks Point as a park.
Tofino’s municipal council agreed and passed the Park Dedication Bylaw during Oct. 13’s council meeting.
Tofino CAO Bob MacPherson told the Westerly News after the meeting that Carlyon had reached out to Tofino’s district office through the conservancy.
“We had a lot of back and forth with a lot of different ideas and there was a lot of discussion about whether the property could be sold and should be sold and I think the more the land conservancy folks learned about the particular property, the more motivated they were to see it not end up in a developer’s hand and to stay somehow with some kind of public ownership,” he said.
“It’s a pretty special piece of land…It’s something that ought to be in the community’s hands and ought to be preserved for future generations to enjoy as well.”
He said the $250,000 price tag was paid from money Tofino had invested in a park reserve fund designed for purchasing land and while the Monks Point purchase significantly depleted this fund, there was enough there to avoid taking out a loan.
“We did not borrow to do this,” he said.
He noted the park fund was launched several years ago when the district did not have Monks Point specifically in mind.
“It was for future opportunities and this was the opportunity that presented itself,” he said.
He said the public’s input would be sought to figure out what the community wants to see the land become but no community consultation plans are in place yet.
“The ink is just dry on the deal. In the next few months we’ll be reaching out to the community to have lots of discussions about what the future of that property is,” he said.
He acknowledged maintaining the land will come at a cost to the district but said it’s a cost the community was willing to pay.
“What we heard overwhelmingly from the community is that this was something that was important to the community to have in community ownership in perpetuity,” he said.
“There will be costs, I don’t believe it will be an undo burden on our community though.”