Dacono park options up in air: Longmont CO Daily Times-Call, 9/15/07

City must resolve ownership of narrow strip of land

By Douglas Crowl

[Dacono CO] city leaders might seize 2 acres of their city park from an Erie resident who surprised officials when he quietly bought the land in February.

But no clear direction on how the city will resolve the ownership has been made.

An appraisal of the land — an old railroad spur that slices through a portion of the city’s ballfield, playground and parking lot at the local BMX track — is in hand, but the value isn’t being disclosed to the public, Dacono city administrator Karen Cumbo said.

The Dacono City Council met in a special meeting behind closed doors Thursday night to discuss the appraisal. An eminent domain option was on the agenda, in case the council chose to go in that direction.

Instead, it tabled the item and will consider it again during a Sept. 24 meeting, Cumbo said.

She added that other options to acquire the land could appear on the agenda.

The new owner of the park land, Ron Warner, was perplexed that the city would consider eminent domain when he’s a willing seller.

“Negotiating is a cheaper, better way to resolve something,” he said.

Warner said Dacono has yet to negotiate a deal with him and that eminent domain is typically reserved for unresponsive landowners.

Cumbo said that’s not always the case.

“There are a lot facets to the eminent domain approach,” she said.

Warner, through his Dacono Rails LLC, purchased the park land from Union Pacific for $93,000.

Dacono leaders assumed that they owned all of Clem Dufour Park, but Warner inspected the deed and discovered Union Pacific still owned the spur. He then contacted Union Pacific, which agreed to sell the land.

Warner initially showed the city plans to build a 200-unit, 30,000-square-foot storage complex in the parking lot of the city’s BMX track. Then he offered to sell the land to Dacono for $230,848.

The City Council declined Warner’s offer and ordered an appraisal of the land.

Since then, Warner has bought insurance for the property, in case he was liable for someone being injured while playing in the park.

He also said he’s allowing public use on his land.

Longmont CO Daily Times-Call: http://www.timescall.com