JA’s ‘win-win’ plan loses at County Parks Board meeting

       Junior Achievement's hope to increase the sales value of its property next to Bear Creek Park hit a snag at the Sept. 13 County Parks Board meeting.
       The board voted, 3-2, to deny a proposal involving a land swap/purchase that would have slightly increased the size of the 1.67- acre parcel on South Eighth Street, aligned the adjacent Norris-Penrose Events Center access road with Olympic Village Drive and given $55,000 cash to the county.
       The matter is now expected to go before the Board of County Commissioners for a final decision later this month, County Parks Director Tim Wolken said.
       At the meeting, Wolken told the advisory board he “supported the concept” of the proposal because of the road alignment, the way the swap would legitimize current park use (a horse cross-country course trespasses onto the northwest corner of the parcel) and the money.
       The rejection effort was led by board member David Zook, who questioned whether the county had negotiated a good enough deal for itself. “Maybe it's too high a price to pay,” he said, referring to the deal as a whole.
       The final vote was 3-2, with Bruce Hughes and Jerry Bahner the only ones in favor and Zook joined by Warren Hill and Kimberly Tyler-James. Board Chair Nancy Hobbs was present for the roughly 45-minute discussion, but shortly before the vote occurred she said she had to leave.
       John Gatto, representing Junior Achievement (JA), said afterward he wasn't sure what his next step would be, but added that he is equally ready to move forward with the original plan he submitted to the city last June, in which the streets are not aligned. That plan, like the one proposed to County Parks, requires a zone change from the city to allow retail businesses instead of offices (as the current zone calls for).
       Gatto told the board that a retail zone would make the property more valuable. JA, which provides economic programs in schools throughout Southern Colorado, does not want to develop the property, but hopes to sell it to a developer for as much as possible, he explained.
       The property is in the city. County Parks only got involved because of the proposal involving county-owned Bear Creek Park.
       JA has been meeting with city planning staff and area residents to work out a “win-win” kind of plan, Gatto said in his remarks to the board. However, four people who live or work in the area spoke in opposition at the meeting.

Westside Pioneer article