The sale of 24 acres near the Pine River from Bayfield School District to the town is finally complete.
Town trustees approved the $425,000 deal on Jan. 5, and the school board approved it on Jan. 12. The closing was scheduled for Jan. 14. It's been in the works since 2013 as the town sought a state Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help pay for it. The first two applications were unsuccessful. The third try secured a grant for $327,500. The rest is town money.
The town wants to use the land for a park of some sort, and the grant terms require it.
Town Manager Chris La May told trustees that the sale is for 24.34 acres ro land. The deal includes a town commitment to turn back to the district seven-tenths of an acre with an old house on it by April 15. "We'll buy and annex that, subdivide the lot with the house and convey that back to the school district," he said. Schiller Street is the access to the house and the larger property.
School Superintendent Troy Zabel told the school board, "This has gone back and forth between our attorneys multiple times." It's a pretty complicated deal, with things like water rights that go to the town and the well that goes with the house. "I think some really good things will come with the town owning it versus a subdivision along the river," Zabel said.
The school district bought the property about 10 years ago as a possible school site, but the lower part of it is flood plain. The district then bought 40 acres north of Highway 160 after voters approved a bond issue extension in 2012. School officials are now in the midst of planning for a new school there. With that 40 acres, the district no longer needed the land next to the river.
There is a narrow connection from the new park land west to the Pine River Senior Center and Joe Stephenson Park according to Town Parks and Rec Director Scott Key, although the connector piece has some wetland issues that will have to be addressed. La May said the park land will probably stay as open space for the time being.
Town, school, and Upper Pine Fire officials have had recent discussions about building a new Upper Pine fire station and a community recreation center on the land now occupied by the old community gym and west building of the former middle school. The site plan includes possible facilities on the new park land just to the south. But all that is very speculative.
Mayor Rick Smith commented on Jan. 5, "This has been a long arduous process. I'm kind of excited to see it come to an end."