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Cheyenne's Municipal Building. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – In 2017, Laramie County voters approved millions for a park on the east side of town on the sixth-penny sales tax ballot, but construction on the project has yet to begin.

The city doesn’t yet own the property where the park will go, but the Cheyenne City Council is looking to change that in the new year. City staff and the owner of the desired plot of land have previously disagreed on the appraised value of the land, but an apparent compromise has been reached.

The landowner initially wanted $3.2 million for about 100 acres of land. But when the city sent an appraiser to the property after the ballot measure was approved, the land was only worth $1.1 million.

The final price for the land that the council will vote on in the next few weeks is $2.5 million.

“We all thought it was fair for the type of land it is and for the future use potential,” Mayor Marian Orr said. “It’s a win-win.”

And even though the price of the land is higher than the appraised value, Orr said the new negotiated price allows the city some extra funds to get rolling on development. The property has a water feature, and other amenities like gazebos or equestrian trails are possibilities for the park.

“Certainly, with this property, it’s very unique,” Orr said. “It’s going to become one of those legacy parks.”

And with the recent growth on the east side from developments like Saddle Ridge, Councilman Bryan Cook said a park in the area is much needed.

“We’re trying to take into account the development trends,” Cook said.

Cook supported getting the measure on the 2017 ballot because of the area’s need for open space, and while the cost of the land is different from the appraisal, Cook said it’s at least “closer to the middle.”

LCSD1 interested in city property

Laramie County is growing, and so is its student population. Since the 2012-13 school year, the number of students attending school in Laramie County School District 1 increased 9.35%.

District officials have discussed building a new school for fifth- and sixth-graders in the coming years, but that isn’t the only expansion plan the district is exploring.

The city currently owns a plot of land across the street from Timberland Park and Cole Elementary on the city’s south side, and the district is interested in purchasing the land in case they need to expand. Currently, the property is listed at $569,780.

“If we were to replace Cole Elementary, it would give us a big enough site to put a full size elementary there,” LCSD1 Superintendent Boyd Brown said.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the matter at 6 p.m. Jan. 27 in the City Council Chambers at the Municipal Building, 2101 O’Neil Ave.

In other business

  • Fridays in the Plaza have become a huge hit with residents and local businesses, and this summer, the series will have a new sponsor. The agreement still has to go through council proceedings, but if all goes according to plan, the Cheyenne branch of Charles Schwab will contribute $18,000 each year to Fridays on the Plaza for the next seven years.
  • By June, Lincoln Park will have brand new playground equipment. The council accepted a $206,697 bid from Colorado-based A to Z Recreation for a new play system, which will mostly be paid for with Community Development Block Grants.
  • The council authorized the Cheyenne Police Department to apply for a grant to help fight domestic violence. The department applies for the grant every three years, but this time around, they are asking for funds for a full-time officer to specialize in these types of cases.
  • The council renewed a lease agreement with the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming for a plot of land near the Roundtop Water Treatment Facility. The Girl Scouts lease 45 acres of city-owned land for $100 each year where the girls can meet with their troops and earn patches.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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