Town receives state grant money for park

GOCo cash going to land acquisition in Hayden

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— It took a little more than a year for the town to receive a $114,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant that will help pay for land that is slated for ball fields, a trail and parking.

Last week, the town officially received the grant money that will go toward the purchase of 20 acres of property formerly owned by Wes Signs.

"Perseverance pays off," said Rob Straebel, town manager. "This was something I worked quite hard on.

"We are happy to receive the grant. It was a tremendous land acquisition project for the town."

In December 1999, the town was awarded the grant to purchase the property that is south of the Routt County Fairgrounds. Weeks later, the town was notified it could not receive the funds because of a technicality in the grant process.

Straebel applied for the grant to pay for 70 percent of the fair market value of the property, with the town paying the rest of the balance.

The 22.87 acres of property was appraised at $144,000, but the town had agreed to pay Signs $227,800 for the land. The town planned to use the $114,000 grant and then pay the rest of the balance with town funds.

Town officials found out the grant could not be used to buy land costing more than the appraised price.

To meet GOCo's criteria, the town decided to split the parcel into two. The town then had the first parcel, 20 acres, appraised.

Last April, the town, without knowing the outcome of the pending grant, bought the first piece of the property at the second appraised value, $144,000.

"We were going to purchase this property regardless of the grant," Straebel said.

With the second appraisal complete, the town once again qualified to receive the GOCo money, he said.

With the grant awarded, the town will pay 30 percent of the price of the property, which is $30,000.

Officials also are finalizing plans to buy the second parcel, 2.87 acres. Straebel expects for the town to purchase the second parcel and 1 foot of senior water rights later this month. The property and water rights will cost the town $84,700.

With the complete property expected to be under the ownership of the town soon, Straebel already is working on the next step.

The town, in cooperation with Routt County, is applying for a $32,000 GOCo grant that would be used to hire a consultant to create a master plan for the project.

If the grant is awarded, the town would pay $9,000 and the county would pitch in $4,500 to hire a consultant.

The consultant would create a plan for the development of the property. Possible uses the town is interested in for the current hayfield includes baseball, softball, and soccer fields. An amphitheater, a trail and a parking lot that would also be utilized during the county fair also are possibilities.

"This is prime real estate," Straebel said. "It's in a great location. It's south of the fairgrounds. Dry Creek also goes through this property. The trail system can utilize Dry Creek.

Straebel is hopeful the grant will be awarded this spring and a consultant can be hired by the summer.

"The property does not look much like now, but it is going to be a great area for the future," Straebel said. "We will be asking for community input in how these 20 acres should evolve."

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