By KIE RELYEA
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD May 18, 2014
LUMMI ISLAND – The Lummi Island Heritage Trust wants to buy quarry land on the island for conservation and low-impact recreation with saltwater access.
“We’re interested in doing what we can to protect it,” said Rebecca Rettmer, executive director of the trust.
The land trust is negotiating with Resource Transition Consultants, the receiver for Lummi Rock quarry, to buy 105 acres on the southeast side of the island near Scenic Estates.
While receivership is an alternative to bankruptcy, it is similar in that creditors must line up to get paid under the direction of the receiver.
Lummi Rock and its operator, Aggregates West of Everson, have both turned their assets over to Resource Transition Consultants, which is charged with selling off those assets to pay the companies’ debts.
The companies have been in receivership since 2013.
Both sides declined to reveal the trust’s purchase offer. But Resource Transition Consultants’ Robert Nall said it was too low.
“We felt it was substantially below fair market value,” he said of the offer, adding that as receiver his company must by court order maximize the value of the companies’ assets.
Nall’s company had an appraisal done and then gave that to the land trust for evaluation.
Resource Transition Consultants would like to sell the property to the trust, provided it can get a fair-market value for the land or something close, Nall said.
“I think that would be a wonderful solution,” he said.
If the two sides don’t reach a deal, the property eventually will be listed for sale – primarily as a mining asset, Nall said.
When Lummi Rock’s receivership was filed last June in Whatcom County Superior Court, documents listed its most valuable asset as the 114 acres of property it owns at and near the quarry on Lummi Island.
The land was worth $1.55 million, and the company owed more than $10 million to shareholders, Union Bank and other creditors, according to those documents.
Lummi Rock’s mining operations were on 20 acres.
Rettmer went before a Whatcom County Council Natural Resources Committee in January to talk about the project and a possible partnership with the county, including its help in buying the 105 acres.
The land has more than 3,000 feet of saltwater shoreline that includes pocket beaches and critical nearshore habitat, with 80 acres of forestland and wildlife habitat in the upland, according to the trust.
Lummi Island Heritage Trust has conserved 853 acres of land on the island. It owns and manages three preserves that provide public access.