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The Skinner restriction: Does 1855 deed block a city-county land swap in downtown Eugene?

Does the fine print in Eugene Skinner's 1855 deed for the town square block a potential land swap involving the butterfly parking lot at 8th and Oak? (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Does the fine print in Eugene Skinner's 1855 deed for the town square block a potential land swap involving the butterfly parking lot at 8th and Oak?

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That's a question the City of Eugene and Lane County hope to answer soon.

"Both the city and county legal teams have looked at that and they agree, it doesn't look like there's anything that would prevent that from happening," said Jan Bohman with the City of Eugene.

Building a new City Hall on the butterfly lot is one of the land swap possibilities county and city leaders have put on the table.

The managers of the farmers market have a stake in the debate.

"Two of the options that they are proposing do have the farmers market on the butterfly lot space," said Angela Norman, director of the Lane County Farmers Market. "We have a deeply rooted history with that space."

At the Lane County Historical Society, the original 1856 maps for the town show a public square there, historian Bob Hart said.

"There's the public square: 8th divides it east-west," Hart said.

The map is the visual representation of Skinner's deed.

Eugene's original City Hall was built where the butterfly lot stands today.

But in 1909, county officials determined the City Hall was there illegally.

"The Skinner restriction was of course that it remain in public use - but for the county," Hart said.

The multi-million dollar question now is: do the restrictions still apply?

City and county offficials hope the answer is no.

"We want to make sure before we proceed too far with that, that is in fact the case," Bohman said.

"Obviously legal minds are going to look at this," Hart added, "and probably disagree."

RELATED | Eugene Skinner was here: 'This is the beginning of Eugene'


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