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Land swap finalized in parcels near fairgrounds

May 8, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Commission has authorized a land swap between the county and the Depot Foundation after years of discussion.

County fair manager Barney Cosner called the deal a "win-win."

The Depot Foundation will gain a parcel of land between the Fremont County Fairgrounds and the Wind River and two tracts totaling 80 acres on the other side.

Allen Moore of the Depot Foundation said his organization plans to build a two-mile paved recreation path on two pieces of land it owns on the north bank and through the newly acquired piece along the fairgrounds.

He said the 80 acres on the south side would be best suited for an equestrian park because it is in the river's floodplain.

The nonprofit organization will give the county a 6.7-acre parcel with utility and street access on the festival grounds' western edge.

"The fair will look at it as additional parking for livestock trailers, which we're dramatically short on," Cosner said.

He said guests also would be able to park in the area.

A similar land swap has been under discussion for some time. Cosner met with commissioners roughly one year ago to discuss such a deal.

The Depot Foundation has worked on creating a path along the river for about five years, Moore said.

At the commission's meeting, Moore and Cosner said the swap would benefit both of their organizations.

Commissioners at the 2012 meeting were concerned that the property they would trade away would be more valuable than the property they would receive. The county board also had asked for more details on the deal.

Moore and Cosner came to the recent meeting armed with maps and advice from surveyor Gary Hartle.

Some details presented a problem.

A fence separates the fairgrounds and the property the Depot Foundation would acquire, and an irrigation pipe runs outside of it.

Those structures do not leave enough space for construction of a path.

"It would not be a good practice to put a paved road over an irrigation pipeline," Moore said.

Cosner said the fair could probably move the fence 15 feet inward to provide enough space.

"I haven't seen the county take any interest or any use of any of the spots that have been mentioned," commissioner Keja Whiteman, said referring to the parcel the Depot Foundation wanted to acquire.

"The fair board looked at this a couple years ago, and the area being accessed is not being used in any way," Cosner said. "Now with the fence change, that changes things, but it's still a win-win for both sides."

Commissioner Travis Becker and Cosner said they wanted to move fast on the swap.

"I'd like to get this thing figure out and knocked out by July 1," Becker said.

Cosner said July 1 would be only 19 days before the fair started and suggested they aim to finish the swap in June.