Gypsum agrees to land trade with school district

Derek Franz

Eagle Valley Enterprise

Gypsum and the Eagle County School District are getting serious about a land exchange in which almost no cash would change hands.

Eagle Valley High School needs more space for practice fields and the town owns a 5.6-acre parcel adjacent to the school called the Bindley property, which the town can’t use very well because of access constraints.

In return, the school district is offering to trade its IK Bar property that is on Grundel Way, south of the Cotton Ranch subdivision in the vicinity of Gypsum Creek Middle and Red Hill Elementary schools. There are two portions of the IK Bar property. The “front” parcel is 5.6 acres — identical in size to the Bindley land. The “back” parcel is 7.1 acres.

Tom Braun, a land planning consultant to Eagle County School District, proposed a two-part deal to Gypsum Town Council Tuesday night.

In phase one, the front part of IK Bar would be traded straight-up for the Bindley property. The town would then have the option to trade water fees in exchange for the back parcel of IK Bar.

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That lease would amount to 15 EQRs per year for 30 years. One EQR is approximately equal to 20,000 gallons of water per month, or $14,000.

“The council would have the opportunity to pay off the property out of the general fund at a time of their choosing,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll. “We wouldn’t want to short change our EQR amount in the long term.”

Another way to describe the deal is that the town doesn’t have the cash to buy the back half of IK Bar this year, so trading the EQRs is a way to secure the deal sooner than later.

With Mayor Steve Carver absent, the council unanimously approved the agreement to exchange real property and an agreement for the sale and purchase of real property and raw water with the school district.

Gypsum and the school district have been talking about this deal at least since 2011. The details have been fine tuned and the two entities appear to be much closer to making it happen.

“This was really more driven by our need for fields and the rest came into place,” Braun said.

Appraisals and other red tape will have to be navigated first, though.

“The land values are probably going to be very close,” Shroll said of the pending appraisals.

Another important element affecting the deal is the fact that Gypsum bought the Bindley parcel at the same time it purchased the Cotton Ranch Golf Course and Clubhouse. Since the purchase of the Bindley property was financed with pre-tax dollars, that property has to remain public property until it is paid off.

The town has ideas for what it might do with the IK Bar land — such as a soccer field and community garden with a pavilion — but nothing is set.

“We’ll have that figured out by the time this deal goes through,” said council member Pam Schultz.

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