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Town moves closer to purchasing 12-acre property


On March 21, the Pagosa Springs Town Council moved one step closer to purchasing a piece of land near Tractor Supply, known as the Goodman property, at 229 U.S 84. The land is about 12 acres in size and borders the backside of the town-owned Reservoir Hill Park.

According to town staff, the property has a wide variety of potential uses that include the expansion of park space and trails, the development of workforce housing and camping, and a remote parking area for users of the East End section of town.

 Bob Goodman, the current owner of the land, has “offered the sale of the property to the Town in the amount of $850,000.00 and is flexible to consider a Lease Purchase Agreement or an outright purchase of the property,” states agenda documentation on the matter.

A lease-purchase agreement would reduce upfront costs for the town, but, in the long-run, would be more expensive compared to an outright purchase, according to the agenda document.

An outright purchase “could be accomplished by pulling funds from General Fund Capital Reserves, which currently has a balance of approximately $3,000,000. This is the simplest and least expensive option,” states the agenda document. 

Town staff determined that the asking price for the land is a good deal. According to the town’s contracted real estate agent CBRE, the value of the property lies between about $3 million and $4 million, with the town possibly acquiring it for only the $850,000 asking price. 

At the meeting, the council considered if it wanted town staff to bring back an ordinance to purchase the property outright, enter into a lease-purchase agreement or abandon the idea of acquiring the property altogether. 

Community Development Director James Dickhoff explained that town staff had already conducted “a due diligence for the property, which included ... a phase 1 environmental site assessment,” as well as a title report, survey, and a recording “of all the platted easements.”

He said, “that all came out clear,” adding that town staff has a good understanding of the “developability of the property.” 

He added that the seller’s asking price of $850,000, for an outright purchase is “probably less than half” of the current market rate for land in the area. 

Council member Gary Williams commented, “The price is very good.”

He added that the seller had “the best interest of the town in mind” when he offered the land at that price, adding that the land has potential for a number of recreational activities, as well as East End parking. 

Council member Brooks Lindner agreed, saying that acquiring the property would align with “at least four or five of” the council’s top priorities. 

He called the offer “an incredible, outstanding deal,” and noted that town ownership of the property would have “a positive economic impact on our community in the future in a number of ways. I’m very much in support of purchasing this property.”

When asked to elaborate on the potential economic impacts of acquiring the property, he said that “the enhancement of parks and open spaces have been shown to have substantial economic impacts in rural communities with tourism-based economies.” 

He added, “When we have those amenities in our communities, it attracts visitors. And then there’s all of the secondary economic impacts that we get from that, from our hotels, our transportation, all of our service businesses, and then all the multipliers that happen after that.” 

But Mayor Shari Pierce suggested that she is opposed to purchasing the property at this point in time. 

She expressed worry about spending too much money and then not having it for some of the other issues coming down the pike. 

“We don’t have as much money as we think we do,” she said. 

In particular, she expressed worry about the potential high costs that the town will be required to spend on upgrading the Vista Wastewater Treatment Plant, run by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District. 

The town will be responsible for 25 percent of the upgrades required to bring the plant into compliance with state environmental regulations, costing potentially millions of dollars. 

“That’s gonna move our sanitation district budget very low, and, so, basically, any thing that’s gonna be done with the sanitation improvements — that we’ve been discussing as our No. 1 goal — we may be needing to loan money to the sanitation district out of our capital reserves, which is the same money we would be using to purchase this land,” she said. 

Because of this, she suggested that it is “not the best time to make a [land] purchase. Those are my thoughts.” 

She recommended waiting to purchase the property at a later date. 

Council member Leonard Martinez also expressed that he was opposed to an outright purchase of the property. 

He explained that since no concrete plans had been identified for the use of the property, he didn’t see the “strategic alignment” for purchasing it outright. 

However, he noted that he would be open to the lease-purchase option while the town works out a specific strategy for the property.

“I would not be in favor of purchasing it outright at this time,” he said, adding, “I would recommend that we look at a lease until we can get the strategic alignment in a way that is more robust ... I’m not as interested in buying it without a good strategic alignment.” 

But the majority on the council leaned toward an outright purchase. 

Council member Matt DeGuise stated he thinks the town should purchase the property outright and not do a lease-purchase agreement. 

He said that the council shouldn’t “saddle future councils with debt that we’ve decided to take on,” adding that in the long run it would save the town money. 

Council member Madeline Bergon agreed with DeGuise about the outright purchase, but added she also wanted to be upfront about the council’s outlook for the property being rooted in the idea of expanding parks and recreational opportunities, as well as East End parking, and not so much with the development of workforce housing. 

“I just don’t want to be not forthright in saying we have an intention for this property that might not be fully there,” she said. 

Williams agreed, saying that it “doesn’t excite me to build workforce housing there.” 

He suggested, “Let us see what our constituents want to do with the property.” 

Lindner said, “It’s my understanding” that the seller is only offering the land “to us at that value,” emphasizing the tremendous opportunity that could be lost if the town didn’t act soon. 

Ultimately, Williams motioned to bring an ordinance back before council to purchase the property outright at the offered price, using the town’s General Fund capital reserves.

The motion was seconded and carried 4-2, with a roll call vote showing that DeGuise, Williams, Lindner and Bergon favored the motion, with Pierce and Martinez voting “Nay.”

Council member Mat deGraaf was absent from the meeting, but Williams stated earlier in the meeting that deGraaf was “very much in favor” of purchasing the property.