Grand Lake aims to buy 21 acres of land for $1.2 million
Deal comes with water rights, plan to pay off Thomasson Park
Grand Lake has its sights on obtaining 21 acres at Mad Moose and Foxy Lanes for $1.2 million, along with $50,000 worth of water rights, as the town pursues a deal that seems to pose few risks but has plenty of potential.
The proposed land purchase came to light with the Grand Lake Board of Trustees approving three related measures Monday after a series of closed-door contract negotiations between town staff and the property owner.
Framing the proposal for the board, Town Manager John Crone went over some of the details.
The agreement would have the town buy 21 acres for $1.2 million. The price tag wasn’t too high for the board with Grand Lake looking to borrow $1.5 million over 15 years at a roughly 2% interest rate.
Afraid that sending the proposal to voters could delay the sale and allow other potential buyers to move in, Crone suggested the town could raise the money through a certificate of participation.
Certificates of participation differ from voter-approved taxes in that private investors buy shares in the improvements or infrastructure so they are not funded through taxes. At today’s rates, Grand Lake would pay an estimated $120,000-$130,000 annually for a COP, Crone told the board.
However, those payments would be partially offset by another payment Grand Lake has been making on Thomasson Park because an option to buy the park has been costing the town $24,000 a year.
With $1.5 million, the town could buy the 21 acres, along with “good” water rights for $50,000, and then use the remaining money to pay off just over $200,000 on Thomasson Park, Crone said. With the park paid off, the town would pay about $100,000 more annually than it is now on the debt.
To obtain the COP, Crone suggested the town borrow against the Grand Lake Center. He said the risk to the center would be extremely low, and the only problem that could arise would be if the town defaulted on the payments.
Crone said he can’t imagine any way that scenario would come to fruition, but he wanted the board to be aware of it. As a potential benefit, Crone also said using the Grand Lake Center for a COP would virtually ensure the facility remains town owned for at least the next 15 years or longer.
Exactly how the land purchase might benefit the town was open for discussion, and there was no shortage of ideas Monday.
Some had the town subdividing the 21 acres and moving its outdated public works building to one of the parcels. That would free up the existing public works building site for something else, trustees surmised.
Other pieces of the subdivided 21 acres could be sold individually to recoup some of the town’s cost, including a home currently on the property, while trustees said other parcels might be perfect for dorm-style seasonal housing. Another perk might be the purchase allowing the town to add onto its trail system, which could help Grand Lake secure another access point to the national forest for snowmobiles.
In agreeing to sell the land, the owner, Tom Stanley, has requested an easement to allow him access to eight acres that he’ll keep adjacent to the 21 acres he plans to sell the town, Crone said. The owner has also asked to use existing surveys rather than seeking new ones, which Crone didn’t think would be a problem in closing the deal.
Trustees voiced little opposition to the plan, if any, as they talked over ways the parcel could benefit Grand Lake, and Mayor Steve Kudron applauded the board at the end of their meeting for forward thinking.
“When I ran for mayor, I wanted to see our board and our town start looking at, not only today, but also tomorrow,” Kudron said. “I want to thank our trustees, manager and staff because by making the decisions that we are making, we are doing exactly that: We are taking care of Grand Lake today and tomorrow. I think in the coming months we’re going to see how these puzzle pieces all start to come together.”
In other business:
• Trustees heard from a man who raised concerns about town maintenance and requested brief updates on progress made. Crone replied that any updates about the town’s maintenance work wouldn’t be brief, as four to five workers are addressing the issues daily and they are prioritizing the work as best they can.
• Travis Wildeboer, a candidate for Grand County commissioner, attended the board meeting, introduced himself to the Grand Lake trustees and reached out to talk about any problems facing the Grand Lake community.
• Realizing a special relationship with the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, trustees voted to allow the town to waive its fees for using town facilities during chamber sponsored events, like Buffalo Days and the Winter Carnival. Trustees said the chamber’s events bring the town more than enough in return.
• Trustees voted unanimously to back a proposal slated for the Oct. 6 county commissioners meeting, in which commissioners are expected to consider expanding snowmobile routes in the Grand Lake area and off-highway vehicle routes around Fraser.
The snowmobile expansion is limited to County Roads 479 and 480. The roads are not in Grand Lake but beside the town. Grand Lake trustees supported increasing snowmobile routes.
• Trustees appointed Heather Stein to serve as the administrative hearing officer in cases of disputes over town imposed fines.
• Trustees encouraged any candidates interested in joining the board to apply for the open position that’s to be filled on Oct. 26. Anyone interested in serving on the board must have been living in Grand Lake for at least the last 12 months. Potential candidates should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Grand Lake will host a workshop with local business owners on Oct. 12 to talk over ways the town might help businesses weather this winter with COVID-19 restrictions.
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US Forest Service officials have closed Willow Creek Reservoir in Grand County because of a potential blue-green algae bloom.