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Commissioners opt out of selling 95-acre property

Staff Writer

Following an executive session Tuesday evening, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners voted to not sell the county’s 95-acre parcel located near the fairgrounds on U.S. 84.

The BoCC has been contemplating a sale of the property jointly to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FAW) for just over a year — since FAW publicly objected to the county’s developing the property as a park in the fall of 2012.

Archuleta County purchased the property on Dec. 31, 2010, for $750,000.

Proposed uses that followed the purchase included seven softball fields, three plazas with shelters, restrooms and parking, upland reserve to preserve the Pagosa skyrocket, wetland reserve, a playground, grassy areas, trails, a horse arena, events center, large-vehicle parking and commercial area fronting U.S. 84.

But, because of the presence of a population of endemic Pagosa skyrocket plants on the property, FAW objected to the county’s plans, citing damage to the population.

That objection, which came in the form of a letter, thwarted the county’s attempt to receive grant funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for the first phase of development of the proposed park.

Following the objection by FAW, the commissioners directed staff to look into the possibility of selling the property to FAW and CPW, who expressed an interest in potentially purchasing the land jointly.

As part of the process of determining if the property would be sold, CPW hired Maggie Love to appraise the value of the property last November, said Archuleta County Attorney Todd Starr in an interview.

That appraisal process began in January and determined that the property was valued at $815,000 — an 8 percent increase over the purchase price of $750,000.

That value did not include water rights for the property, Starr indicated.

With that value in hand, the commissioners held Tuesday’s executive session at the end of their regular meeting.

The executive session lasted roughly half an hour, at which point the meeting was opened to the public and the board voted unanimously to not sell the property to CPW and FAW.

“The appraisal didn’t come out the way we thought it would come out,” board chair Clifford Lucero said in an interview Wednesday.

Lucero said the board thought the appraisal would be about $1.2 million.

“We decided we’re going to hang on to the property at the time being,” Lucero said.

Lucero said the plans to develop the property as a park are on hold, but the board directed staff to look into subdividing approximately 10 acres of the 95 acres for commercial use following the decision to keep the property.

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on February 20, 2014.