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Published: Sunday, 7/30/2006

Kelleys Island property long held by family sold for $2.1M

BY BENJAMIN ALEXANDER-BLOCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

HURON, Ohio - The Gasieski family's 33 acres of Kelleys Island property sold at auction yesterday in pieces, fetching about $2.1 million from several buyers.

"It was difficult letting it go, but, well, we are getting up in age and it was time to set it loose," said Edward Gasieski, 73, of Alpena, Mich.

His father, Walter Gasieski, who worked in an area automotive factory, bought the property on Kelleys Island in 1942.

The island is four miles north of Marblehead, Ohio, and is known as an attractive site for birds, birders, and developers.

Walter Gasieski suffered from exposure to mustard gas while serving in World War I, and "his doctors told him to get out somewhere where the air was fresh," said Edward Gasieski. "That's how we moved out there."

"I guess the fresh air must have helped. He lived up into his 80s ... so he done well."

Walter Gasieski lived on the island until his death in 1974.

He bequeathed the land to his four surviving children - sons Edward Gasieski; Arthur Gasieski, of Mesick, Mich., and Leonard Gasieski, of Chelsea, Mich., and daughter Eleanor Wilczewski, of Westland, Mich.

None of the children ever developed or used the land after their father's death.

"It was difficult to get out there because we were all on the mainland. ... It seemed too hard to develop it," Edward Gasieski said.

The auction was conducted at Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron. There was no minimum starting bid.

Joel Dutton, principal of Dutton Auction and Realty Co. and the auctioneer handling the sale yesterday, said it was difficult to predict how much the 33 acres would yield because there wasn't much precedent.

He said an auction is useful because it helps establish a realistic value.

"But whenever we see the kind of a turnout we did, we feel comfortable that its value was reached," Mr. Dutton said after the auction.

He said the $56,000 per-acreage price tag garnered for interior island acreage yesterday set a new standard for inland real estate value on the island.

The Gasieski family's 33 acres were divided into 14 parcels, from three-quarters of an acre to six acres, with some on the water and the rest inland near the airport.

There were 125 registered bidders at the auction - three phone bidders from Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and the rest on the floor.

The 14 parcels went to seven private buyers, each purchasing about two parcels each.

Two state agencies, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, placed bids that ultimately came up short.

The largest single bid, about $250,000, was from a Columbus resident for two of the four available waterfront parcels.

Cincinnati resident Kevin Pape and Columbus residents Kyle and Jerry Yoest each respectively purchased the other two waterfront properties.

Mr. Pape said he has known the Yoests for years because their parents once owned adjacent properties on the island.

They spent their summer vacations there as children, he said.

"It's a beautiful part of the island, and it is also near many friends of mine," Mr. Pape said. "So when the opportunity presented itself, it made sense."

In addition to buyers from Toledo and the Cleveland area, whose names Mr. Dutton would not disclose, there were several buyers from the island.

Kelleys Island Mayor Rob Quinn was there bidding for a parcel for his friend, August Palladino, who bought six acres adjacent to the airport and adjoining his own property.

At one point, Mr. Quinn bid against his father, Bob, for one of the parcels.

"I didn't even know [my father] was there until that happened," Mr. Quinn said.

Bob Quinn purchased a five-acre parcel adjacent to the airport.

Sales of large tracts of island land are unusual, with the most publicized purchases made in recent years involving the state of Ohio.

In 2004, the state purchased 589 acres of North Bass Island, or 87 percent of the land, for $17.4 million. And in 2001, the state paid $6.75 million for 124 acres on Middle Bass Island, including the former Lonz Winery, for use as a state park.

Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch at: babloch@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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