Here's the deal Baker County Commissioners struck with Tigard businessman Paul Vaden in April 2005:

For $1,000, Vaden would have the right, until Dec. 31, 2006, to buy the old cement plant property at Lime from the county for $400,000.

For Vaden that was less than $50 a month to have the rights to buy a piece of property while he shops it around to prospective businesses.

For the county, it was an opportunity to have somebody else try to do something with a piece of land the county came to own through foreclosure.

Vaden says he has a number of irons in the fire for Lime, but none is ready to sear a brand on that land.


Here's what he's asked commissioners to do:

Extend his option through April 30, 2008, and by April 30 of next year he'll give the county a nonrefundable $50,000 toward the purchase price.

In other words, Vaden gets four more months free and then can buy himself 20 more months for $50,000.

The county can't really lose on this deal.

At the very least, taxpayers get $50,000 out of a piece of ground that hasn't produced property taxes in more than a decade.

At the very best, Vaden secures an industrial client and develops the ground into a job- and tax-producing private development.

We suppose Vaden could opt out of the agreement before the end of April, in which case the county has just lost four months of opportunity to do something else with the property and extended the option to Vaden for free.

But we are unaware of any other proposals to do anything industrial with the land, so gambling the four months seems worth it.