By Laurie Lucas

Riverside County is closer to seizing a bar owner’s land in Eastvale, the missing link needed to build community facilities.

The Board of Supervisors took the first step last month when it agreed that use of eminent domain might be necessary to acquire the property. The decision could come at a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 21.

The tug of war is over 1.16 acres owned by Al Assink on a main thoroughfare at the corner of Hamner Road and Schleisman Avenue.

It is the site of Al’s Corner, the run-down bar adored by longtime patrons and loathed as an “eyesore” by newer residents. It is Assink’s home.

When reached by phone Thursday, Assink, 80, said h e had no comment.

The hotly contested property at 7010 Hamner Road is the last holdout of three contiguous properties, totaling 3.68 acres, on which the county plans to build a firehouse, a community center and a child care center.

The county bought 1.92 vacant acres for $998,000 from the city of Norco and purchased the middle property, 0.6 acre, from a private owner.

Last March, Assink said he was baffled why his corner was prime real estate in this former dairy community of 35,000 where tract homes have supplanted farms.

“There must have been 10,000 other locations,” he said, “land that was open for all ages.”

But Robert Field, the county’s facilities management director, said the trio of parcels has been deemed crucial for these services.

The county is proceeding “with an abundance of caution and a sense of urgency,” in regard to eminent domain, he said.

His brother, John Field, chief of staff for county Supervisor John Tavaglione, whose 2nd District includes Eastvale, said he’s not sure about the status of negotiations with Assink, but considers eminent domain “a last resort.”

Assink, who paid $30,000 for the land in 1969, wants the county to pony up $2 million, the amount he said a private buyer offered him months ago.

The county has authorized $1,872,978 to buy Assink’s property.

That sum includes $340,800 for cleaning up any environmental hazards on the parcel, such as oil and radiator fluid that might have seeped into the ground from abandoned cars around Assink’s house.

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