Volume 8, Number 6 - May 1, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Fate Of Land Sought For Town Park In Owner’s Hands
Executive sessions have been ongoing for several months, since property owner Jim Bowles first proposed the Pine Creek Park Estates on his 18-acre parcel of land located directly beside and behind the town’s Boyd Skinner Memorial Park.
Their purpose – to determine if a deal could be made with Bowles so the town could buy his property and extend the town park rather than have a development there. The option has been posed to Pinedale citizens on their past water bills but not all voters in Pinedale are responsible for the water bills on their property.
Councilman Gary Heuck last week proposed another public vote be taken as a non-binding resolution on the town’s election ballots.
At Monday’s meeting, Chris House, who was absent last week, opened the conversation about the property by making a motion to offer Bowles $1.7 million for the parcel in a one-time purchase.
“We do have a price and a couple of proposals out there from Mr. Bowles,” House said before making the motion.
House added he saw no reason to vote on its purchase at the election next week. “We had a survey that was overwhelmingly positive,” House said referring to the survey on the water bills.
“That survey was bogus, and I told you that,” argued Councilman Heuck, who still wishes to see the issue taken to the ballot box as a resolution. “If you don’t care what the taxpayer has to say, then take it off... and apparently you don’t. I don’t think it’s fair to the voter.”
Heuck also argued that with half of the property being wetlands and not developable, there is no reason for the town to buy all of the property.
Dave Hohl disagreed, stating it comes down to access rights to the parcel and a park could be built around, and still utilize, the wetland portion.
“When you purchase a piece of property for a park, the first thing you’re going to do is look at the whole plan,” Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie said. “It is overall a big plan. ...The wetlands are an integral piece... a part of the part.”
Ninnie said with the property being used as a park, the wetland portion could be developed into ane ducational tool.
Mayor Steve Smith agreed the survey had been sent out as a courtesy to the town and had come back in support of the town’s purchase and that he saw no reason for the vote to be included on the ballots.
“This council has always had the charge of spending the taxpayer money,” Smith said. “The town’s current 2007-2008 budget has $1.5 million allocated for the acquisition of park land.”
Smith added there is an additional $240,000 in the town’s parks and capital improvements funds, meaning the funding for this project is already allocated in this year’s fiscal budget.
It was not whether the council had the money or not that originally detoured Council woman Nylla Kunard from voting yes to the project; it was how it was to be spent. “I was objecting to this originally, because I felt we could spend the $1.7 million on infrastructure,” she said. “I think there is enough on the council to approve this, but if we are going to do it, Iw ant to pay for it all at once.”
“If the taxpayers had said they wanted this I would have been behind it all the way,” Heuck said before casting the only vote in opposition.
The motion to offer Bowles the money was passed.
The council also approved a preliminary plat for the property, as Bowles along with his lawyer Gaston Gosar stated he would move forward with the subdivision should the deal not come to fruition. Gosar stated Bowles did not want to fall behind and wants to get something in motion, not be in a limbo in which nothing was accomplished.
“The proverbial ball is inyour court,” Smith said to Bowles.
In other town news:
• Town Council waived a sign fee for the Sublette County Softball League. The softball league will use the signs as fundraisers in case they don’t have support from the Rec Board when their budget is determined in June.
• John Fogerty spoke about there being no full-sized baseball fields in the county, meaning anyone after age 12 cannot play unless they are good enough and have transportation to play on a traveling team. Fogerty said there is some interest and potential for a high school baseball team in the future if infrastructure is put in to support the teams until that point.
“Point well taken, John,” Smith said.
• The preliminary plat for the Bloomfield was accepted, although the lots changed from 17 to nine.
“I’d just as soon see it go back to Planning and Zoning,” Heuck said of the changes.
The developers of the subdivision were already on the P&Z agenda in case Town Council referred them back.
“My recommendation is not,” Ninnie said.
“I was at the last P&Z meeting and we spent approximately 42 minutes discussing the water line and not the preliminary plat,” he said.
The motion passed with only Heuck in opposition.
• Lauren McKeever announced plans for the Town Council to meet with a Bureau of Land Management consultant via conference call to discuss the Resource Management Plan on April 29.
• McKeever also announced that Arbor Day for Pinedale is set for June 4, 2008.
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