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State, city land swap ok’d… well, for the most part

by Eric Mullens

Just minutes before the regular Walsenburg City Council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Jim Eccher (left) and Lathrop State Park Manager Stacey Lewis brief city attorney Dan Hyatt on a last minute issue that developed in the city and state land swap deal. Photo by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night approved the Intergovernmental and Interagency Agreement that will allow a swap of land and facilities between the city and the state of Colorado involving the golf course, buildings at the former Lathrop Youth Camp and property the city owns adjacent to the state park. However, in the few minutes between the city council’s work session and the regular meeting a last minute text received by the park manager indicated there may be a small glitch in finalizing the deal.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Lathrop State Park Manager Stacey Lewis received a text message indicating there was an insurance issue not covered in the agreement before the city council. The issue deals with insurance claims made for damage to some of the buildings’ roofs during high winds and hail that hit Huerfano County early in 2017. It was explained this damage was ‘lumped in’ with other state buildings damaged and the specific Lathrop Youth Camp damages will have to be clearly identified by a state insurance adjuster.

The agreement was approved subject to the city and the Division of Facilities Management of the Colorado Department of Human Services working out an acceptable agreement on the insurance issue.

The land swap sees the city take full control of the golf course and buildings at the former youth camp. The state will receive the Yucca campground property at the state park, plus a nearly two acre area around the lake’s high water mark and a piece of property that is on the bottom of the lake.

The city and state have been working on the agreement and working with surveyors and doing title searches on all of the involved property for approximately five years. The current agreement was reached just recently and moved forward to the city council agenda faster than anyone had predicted.

The Huerfano County Hospital District has made a proposal to purchase some of the buildings and property at the youth camp to accommodate expansion, and it is expected further talks between the city and the district will commence in the near future. Mayor Jim Eccher said he would seek a condition in any future sale to the district mandating the entity not sell anything they buy from the city for at least ten years. If the city wanted to sell any of the newly acquired buildings to a private developer, as opposed to another governmental entity, the approval of that kind of sale would have to be given through a public vote.

In other business:

• The council voted unanimously to direct the interim administrator to stop, or not engage in, any major general fund purchases not already obligated, until the end of the year.

• Council voted unanimously to keep interim administrator Steve Rabe on a contract through the transition with new administrator James Toth. The professional services contract approved is for month to month work not to exceed six months, and may be renewed if council wishes. Rabe will concentrate efforts on special projects and assignments from city administration off site.

• Council heard a brief overview of the proposed 2018 city budget; public presentation of the budget and formal adoption will follow over the next two months.

• Council approved Ordinance 1109 on first reading that will repeal all previous water haul ordinances and resolutions, and establish new water haul regulations and rates. The water haul service area will be a ten mile radius around the city and rates have not yet been established. The new water haul station to be built on the south side of city hall has the capability to track user amounts and will require actual physical addresses of the client and how the water is used.

• Council approved Resolution 2017-R-10, supporting the GOCO grant application for renovation to Civic League Park.

• Council approved, on second reading, Ordinance 1107 regarding control of cross connections in order to prevent blackflow and protect the city’s water supply system from contamination. Council also approved on second reading Ordinance 1108, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018 and mandates that no more than 12 marijuana plants (medicinal or recreational) may be grown at any residence, regardless of designated zone in which the residence is located.

• Heard a Museum of Friends presentation seeking sponsorship or donations to their redevelopment effort. It is expected the city council will sit as the Downtown GID Board at their next meeting and make a donation through the funds held through the Downtown GID.

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