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Grand Lake officials intrigued by land proposal

A Grand Lake property owner has approached the town with an interesting proposal in which the owner would pay off $200,000 owed on a town park in exchange for a few concessions from the town.

Jim Peyton owns a piece of property on Woodpecker Hill above Thomasson Park, which is mostly undeveloped land adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park and US Highway 34 that the town is buying under a contract. On Monday, Peyton pitched a somewhat complicated land exchange and deal involving Thomasson Park and the town-owned rights of way that surround his property.

Essentially, Peyton is hoping the Grand Lake Board of Trustees will agree to sell him Thomasson Park so he can pay off the remainder owed on the property, which based on discussions is about $200,000. Once Peyton paid off the loan, he would work with the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust to put conservation easements on the land before gifting it back to the town in exchange for the town vacating some of the rights of way surrounding his property.

“One of my biggest concerns here is getting an additional buffer between me and the Grand Lake Lodge property with their new expansion,” Peyton told the board.

The trustees were open to exploring Peyton’s proposal, though there are many questions that must be answered before any kind of deal could be made, including finding out if it’s even possible.

At least one trustee expressed concerns about selling property below market rate, even though Peyton was pitching a legally binding contract that would ensure the town got the land back after he paid off the loan and put conservation easements on it.

Some potential complications could be an existing agreement regarding the town’s future plans for a cremation cemetery on the Thomasson Park property and other access easements that might be tied to the property.

“There are so many things that still have to fall in place, but it’s an intriguing idea,” Trustee Tom Weydert said.

At the direction of the board, town staff will continue working with Peyton to investigate the potential deal and see if they can frame it in a way that works for both Peyton and for the town.

In other business:

• Trustees approved town staff seeking bids for Streetscape Phase III that include prices for asphalt and chip seal paving on Park Avenue. The project is viewed as one of the most important and expensive for the town this year.

• The board OK’d a revised generic license agreement for encroachments on town owned properties.

• The board approved a nightly rental agreement for Unit A of Building 10 at the Shadow Park West Condominiums. A complaint had triggered a hearing before the board, but board members decided to grant the license given the complaint was related to another short-term rental unit, not the one seeking a license.

• Board members applauded the return of buffalo barbecue to the town’s annual Buffalo Days celebrations after hearing from the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce.

• Mayor Jim Peterson called out four people running for office in April because only three out of the seven candidates attended Monday’s meeting. Steve Kudron, who’s running for mayor, and Weydert, who’s seeking for another term on the board, were both at the meeting, along with Ernie Bjorkman, a newcomer who’s running for a seat on the board and sat in the audience.

Peterson said it was “disturbing” so many candidates missed the meeting and someone should “tell them to get their rear-ends in here.”


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