County withdraws offer of land near park

Jul 17, 2012 By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Commission is no longer offering free land near Jaycee Park to the City of Riverton after municipal leaders demanded more than the roughly six acres initially proposed.

In a letter to Riverton city administrator Steven Weaver, deputy county attorney Jodi Darrough stated that commissioners rejected the council's counter-proposal for two additional acres.

Noting the additional land is under an agricultural lease, commissioners determined the transfer of the requested land would be "inappropriate at this time," Darrough wrote in her letter dated July 6.

"Therefore, the County withdraws its original offer of the grant of land from the property formerly owned by the Major family. While the board would be willing to revisit the possibility of a grant of land in the future, it is off the table for the present time," according to the letter.

The county government acquired the land from Wayne Major Sr. and his son in a deal valued at $200,000 for property north of Riverton Memorial Hospital and Jaycee Park to Cooper Road.

As part of the deal with the county, Major requested the commission offer the roughly six acres for free to the city to use for its park system.

During their meeting June 5, city council members said they wanted an additional two acres to make the deal more attractive to the municipality.

Commissioners rejected the city's demand during their meeting July 3.

"The additional two acres, from my point of view, needs to wait until we figure out how we're going to develop that land," commission vice chairman Pat Hickerson said. "I don't want to give it to them until we know we don't need it."

The commission has not decided how to use the land, but suggestions have included using the location for a new fairgrounds or justice center.

Commissioner Travis Becker, who has been the lead with the land deal for the board, said the additional requested acreage would interfere with the county tenant who is using the irrigated land.

"I just don't think it's a good time to do it now, because he's in the middle of his lease," Becker said.

Talking about his recent discussions with Major about the offer, Becker said, "He wanted to do whatever it took to get that transfer done. I told him it might take awhile."

Becker said the commission can revisit the topic with the city.

"I think we can talk about it later. ... I don't like the way it worked out," he said.

Commission chairman Doug Thompson told Darrough to write the rejection letter to the city after hearing counsel's recommendation.

"I'd advise you to tell them 'no' now," Darrough said.

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