School district may sell part of Minturn park
EAGLE – Meet the Wilderness may get a permanent home near Minturn.After several years of using Minturn Middle School as a base camp, the Eagle County School District and Meet the Wilderness are close to signing a contract for the sale of a one-acre parcel at Maloit Park near Minturn. A draft contract calls for the Edwards-based “adventure education” group, which specializes in outdoor programs for “at-risk” youth, to buy the property for $10.The land Meet the Wilderness wants is basically adjacent to the buildings used by the Eagle Valley Community Fund for its annual rummage sale and auction. A new road would be built to the property to bypass the rummage sale site, as well as the roughly 16 employee housing units between the school and the sale center.The school district owns about 100 acres of property at Maloit Park, most of which is unused. The effort to build Meet the Wilderness a home of its own has been going on for several years. “We’ve been talking about doing something there for 14 years or so,” Eagle County School Board Member Louise Funk said. “I’m very supportive of this.”
The school district and Meet the Wilderness have talked seriously about a property sale since about 1999, Assistant Superintendent Karen Strakbein said. Those talks, as well as questions from Minturn residents about the district’s plans for the property, led eventually to a plan for the property, which was done in 2001.That plan, which involved Minturn residents and officials as well as the school district, resulted in a kind of draft zoning map with “bubble diagrams” identifying potential building areas. The Meet the Wilderness parcel was included on that map.The purchase contract comes with a couple of stiff conditions: Meet the Wilderness can never sell the property, and if the group ever shuts down, the property, and all the improvements on it, reverts back to the school district.But Meet the Wilderness founder Jim Himmes said his organization will get a lot of use out of a permanent home. “We looked at doing a lease,” he said. “But state law prohibits leases of more than 10 years, with only two renewals. That was unattractive to funders.”While the district and the nonprofit are set to sign a contract within the next few weeks, some of the neighbors have questions about the deal. Although the property isn’t in the town, it is right next door.”The town has an interest in this,” Minturn Town Manager Ann Capela said. “If there’s a building there, we have some issues we want to discuss.”That discussion will probably start at the Dec. 15 meeting of the Minturn Town Council. District Superintendent John Brendza was already on the agenda, and will likely face questions about the deal.”Personally, I have no objections to it,” Town Councilman Darell Wegert said. “But town-wise, I know there are some citizens who aren’t happy about anything going in up there.”
And, Wegert said, there’s still some mistrust of the district after a proposal a few years ago to put about 100 employee housing units in at Maloit Park.”I think that was kind of misunderstood by some people,” Strakbein said. But, Wegert said, “There are some folks in town who still aren’t convinced about the school district’s plans up there.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or firstname.lastname@example.org.=============
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado
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