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Granby Medical Campus proposal would require rodeo arena relocation

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
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Granby Medical Campus project officials experienced what must have felt like a wild bull ride when they told the rodeo community the campus could end up on Flying Heels Rodeo Arena property. With a roomful of citizens and rodeo supporters in attendance Tuesday evening, the idea was received with a combination of confusion, anger and emotion.One audience member went as far to say the proposal felt like a lack of information and a slap in the face. Others said they simply needed more information before theyd offer their endorsement.Kremmling Memorial Hospital District and the Grand County Rural Health Network floated the idea at the meeting in Granby Town Hall. Rather than build a 40,000 square-foot urgent-care clinic on 9.7 acres of property on the east side of U.S. Highway 40 directly east and south of the Grand Elk Ranch & Club administrative offices, the Network and Hospital tentatively have set sights on the property occupied by the Flying Heels Arena. Tony Krempin, engineer and a member of the rodeo community, told fellow rodeo members the hospital projects current site would have difficult access, significant grade issues and a lot of retaining walls that would burden the campus project with extra costs. Rather than have them endure the extra costs, the idea emerged to put the hospital on flat ground occupied by the arena.Such a move could benefit the rodeo by potentially resulting in construction of a new Flying Heels Arena east and downhill of its existing spot.There, it would be out of the wind, he said Wednesday, and a move could mean improvements to the arena with the possibility of the county and towns contributing. The community could end up having a new concert facility as well as rodeo grounds. The idea is the rodeo can benefit from it, he said. If we have a nicer facility, were going to get more people in those seats.Since the idea was fresh, however, health officials and medical facility project manager Todd Ficken of F&D International were unable to provide few details about how the arena might be moved, or built, what parking the arena would have at the new location, what wetlands exist at the new site and what guarantees the community would have that the newly located arena wouldnt be booted in the future.Many rodeo community members said they were not against a medical center being built, but were jaded by the fact Grand County commissioners offered up this particular ground for the project.In 1984, the U.S. Department of the Interior granted 55.34 acres to Grand County, acreage that now includes the proposed medical facility property and the arena property, through a land patent pursuant to the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. The catch was the land had to be used for rodeo arena grounds and public recreational facilities, the patent says.Grand County passed a resolution this year allowing health officials to pursue using the property for a medical facility, something perceived as being outside of the patent criteria.According to many people in the room Tuesday, the rodeo community was not directly notified or consulted prior to commissioners decision, which created some distrust among rodeo supporters.When did the county start giving away land? rodeo administrator Tish Linke asked.A change in the patent through the secretary of the Interior, allowing another use on the land, could invite other uses in the future such as commercial endeavors not compatible with the original patent, they said.Or, some fear, the patent could be jeopardized altogether.I think it would be a big mistake to open the door, promises or not, said Pat McWilliams, longtime rodeo participant. Theyd have the right to develop whatever they want out there and the rodeo would go by the wayside.Grand County Commissioners Nancy Stuart and Gary Bumgarner, both of whom were at the meeting, were not certain about whether parcels of the 55.34 acres could be separated in a county zoning change and federal patent acceptance.But encouraged by the outcome of the meeting, health officials may be looking into using the rodeo property for the future medical facility, and the rodeo community anticipates more detailed information on what such a deal might look like.KMHD really thought this is something to bring to the users because its something that might be good for both, Ficken said. Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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