Hayden in danger of losing $114,000 grant

Whenever the diagnosis is bad, be sure to get a second opinion.

Hayden's town manager is hopeful a second opinion appraisal will be just what the doctor ordered to keep a land acquisition grant recently awarded to Hayden.

The town was awarded a Great Outdoors Colorado grant on Dec. 2 that would allow the city to purchase a 23-acre parcel of land just south of the Routt County Fairgrounds. The land is slotted for open space and new softball, baseball and soccer fields. Unfortunately, an overlooked stipulation in the grant process may mean Hayden will never see the GOCo money.

The town applied for the GOCo grant in August and was awarded $114,000 for the future recreation area.

However, according to the rules of the grant application process, an applicant may apply for up to 70 percent of the fair market value, or appraisal price, for the property it is trying to purchase. The additional 30 percent of the appraised price must come from the grant applicant. In this case, GOCo had awarded $114,000 and the town of Hayden was to contribute $30,000.

However, the purchase price for the parcelagreed to by the town board and landowner Wes Signs is $227,800. The Town Board had planned to pay the additional $83,800 with other town funds.

The board was prepared to close on the purchase in January 2000, Straebel said.

Because of the difference between the appraisal and the purchase price GOCo cannot participate in the deal.

Chris Leding, GOCo director of communications, explained the organization will not participate in any land acquisitions over the fair market value, as determined by an appraiser. That means the town cannot provide additional funds over the appraised amount to purchase the Signs parcel, at least not with GOCo funds.

The 23-acre parcel was appraised for $144,000 by Douglas Tarr of CBMA Appraisals of Craig, according to Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel.

"I don't want to criticize the appraiser, I think it (the appraisal) was accurate for the methodology he used," Straebel said. "I don't think it was good methodology though, because it didn't include water rights and it wasn't appraised as developable property."

Tarr would not comment on the Signs property appraisal.

Hayden Town Board members had been under the assumption grant money could be coupled with town funds to purchase the parcel no matter what the cost.

"The stipulation that GOCo will not participate in projects over fair market value was never included in the grant application," said Straebel, who wrote the grant application as the town manager.

However, a copy of the application sent to the Hayden Valley Press states: "GOCo will not participate in any acquisitions over fair market value as determined by a public agency appraiser or in any project involving condemnation."

Straebel was shocked to find out he missed that stipulation.

The town is hoping a second appraisal may allow it to keep the GOCo grant.

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