‘It can’t be used for anything other than apparently a monument’

Jefferson Davis ParkConfederate monuments in the U.S. are coming under increased scrutiny after a protest in Charlottesville, Va. turned deadly last month. That scrutiny has also come to Clark County, which is home to Jefferson Davis Park, a privately owned monument outside of Ridgefield along Interstate 5.

Recently, the Clark County Historical Preservation Commission discussed the Confederate monument, but made clear that because it’s on private property it’s out of their hands.

Because it’s private property, that also means its owners have to fork over property taxes. Interestingly, county records show that the tax bill for the property has been going down.

The park is maintained and operated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Pacific NW Division. According to county tax records, the 10,019-square-foot property was purchased in 2007 for $19,500. However, records show that the property’s 2016 total taxable value is $4,641. This year, the owner’s of the property paid $51.89 in property taxes. In 2008, they paid $232.33 in property taxes.

The drop in the property’s value is surprising given the county’s booming real estate market. One property to the west of the park was sold in 1995 for $42,000. It’s 2016 total taxable value is $167,421.

So what gives with this property? Is the monument, which some find distasteful, bringing down its value? Is there a conspiracy afoot to bring down the park’s property tax bill? I called up Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick for answers.

Van Nortwick explained that when that when he took over as assessor in 2011, he directed his office to focus more on the actual building site of a property rather than the land. He said that the land doesn’t have sewer or other features that would make it buildable. As a result, the property value went down.

“Basically, that parcel is unbuildable,” he said. “It’s a weird place.”

He added, “It can’t be used for anything other than apparently a monument.”


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