White Acres advances

       A phased deal to preserve the White Acres property as open space gained unanimous approval of the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Working Committee March 4.
       The proposal will next go to the City Parks Advisory Board March 12, followed by City Council April 14.
       The plan calls for the TOPS program - aided by a $75,000 fundraising effort through the Friends of Red Rock Canyon - to cover the $1 million purchase price for the scenic 45 acres west of 26th Street at Gold Camp Road. The full price, with interest, would be $1,052,739.
       Payment would be spread over four years (2009-2012) - one phase each year. As explained by Chris Lieber, manager of City Parks development and TOPS, the city would take possession of each phase as it's paid for. A similar method was used for the purchase of the top of Cheyenne Mountain, he added.
       The TOPS Committee is a city-appointed board that recommends expenditures from the city's .1 percent open space sales tax.
       The White Acres preservation plan evolved in the past year out of a development proposal for the property, which had been donated by the White family to the Westside's Bethany Baptist Church many years ago for teen recreational uses. A grassroots petition to “Save White Acres” has garnered more than 1,000 signatures, according to Rita Ague, a leader of that effort who lives nearby.
       The Friends' group is interested because of White Acres' natural qualities and its location - abutting Red Rock Canyon to the south. It is also next to Section 16, a 640-acre parcel which the city is leasing from the state as open space and is negotiating to buy within two years, according to Lieber.
       Don Ellis, representing Friends, pointed out that the group “has a good record in fund-raising” (most recently $50,000 matching a challenge grant to help fund the new pavilion in Red Rock Canyon). While acknowledging that the economy is tight right now, he noted that there have been numerous verbal pledges for donations. “I hope it's a challenge we can meet,” he said.

Westside Pioneer article