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On second thought, city would accept slice of Major land

Aug 12, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge and Martin Reed, Staff Writers

County might revisit issue Tuesday

The Riverton City Council voted Aug. 7 to accept land the Fremont County Commission will provide near Jaycee Park, even though a formal offer is no longer on the table.

City public services director Bill Urbigkit recommended that council members accept the land offer if commissioners come forward again.

Council member Richard Gard made the motion to approve an offer by the county. The council approved the action unanimously.

The commission previously offered to give the city 6.2 acres adjacent to Jaycee Park, but council members voted June 5 to request an additional 2 acres to make the land more attractive to the city.

Council members said the additional 2 acres would straighten out the proposed property's boundary line on the north side and help make the land useful for Jaycee Park.

Commissioners rejected the city's request during their meeting July 3, noting that a decision on the overall use of the surrounding property had not been made.

Another offer by the commission remains to be seen.

"We're going to be discussing that next week," said commissioner Travis Becker on Wednesday.

Becker, who has been the commission's liaison on the issue, requested discussion on the matter for the board's Aug. 14 meeting.

"I requested it be put on the agenda next week to discuss pretty much what direction the county wants to take, not just for that (city offer) but the property itself," Becker said. "I've discussed with a couple of commissioners moving the (boundary) line a little bit."

The commission has yet to announce plans for the land after it acquired the roughly 114-acre parcel and two commercial lots from Wayne Major and son Wayne Major Jr. for $200,000 in September 2011.

The property stretches north of Riverton Memorial Hospital and Jaycee Park to Cooper Road and includes two nearby commercial lots directly north of former Riverton doctor David Steger's office off Major Avenue.

Possible ideas for the property include a new county fairgrounds or justice center complex.

As part of the deal with the county, the elder Major requested the commission offer about 6 acres for free to the Riverton City Council to use in its park system.

"I want to present it formally next week and see if that's the route they want to go," Becker said. "I'm pretty sure we can make some headway with that and present that to the city."

Questions about the land offer to the city have revolved around relocating the boundary line to widen a section of the property some call the "choke point."

"The choke point that the city's talking about, looking at the map from one point to another it will open that choke point that they're concerned about," Becker said. "Instead of looking at another 2.5 to 3 acres, this would be another half-acre to three-quarters acre."

Becker was optimistic that a land offer will be successful.

"I've talked to the mayor," he said. "I've showed him our idea of where that line should be. He thought it was OK in our discussions."

Becker was not aware of the city's discussion and action Aug. 7.

"If they're already on the same page, then I think we're well on our way to get this finalized," he said.

A land transaction would not happen until the winter because of an agriculture lease on the property, Becker said.

"Going back to the very beginning, this was all because the wishes of Mr. Major, and we're trying to follow his wishes to offer that portion of the property, and then the city can use that for parking infrastructure or whatever they deem they want to do with it," he said.