Longmont City Council Approves $8.2 Million Open Space Purchase
Longmont City Council on Tuesday approved spending $8.2 million to buy 253 acres of farmland east of Union Reservoir to prevent future development and to preserve it as open space.
The six council members present at Tuesday’s meeting did not discuss the acquisition authorization documents prior to voting unanimously to approve them, although both Mayor Brian Bagley and Councilwoman Polly Christensen spoke later in the meeting about why they supported the purchase.
Councilman Tim Waters was absent.
The city is buying the property, which lies north of Weld County Road 26 and extends east toward St. Vrain State Park, from Newby Farms, LLC.
Council expressed support for the proposed purchase earlier this year, when in April it gave city staff the go-ahead to proceed with negotiations for the acquisition.
Staff, in a memo to council, stated that in addition to protecting prime agricultural land from development, acquisition of the farm and its associated water rights would provide an area where a potential trail system could be developed between the reservoir and the state park.
The city’s $8,218,973 payment for the property and its associated water rights will be financed by bonds backed by a voter-authorized 0.2 percent sales tax Longmont collects for open space acquisitions and maintenance.
Suzanne Webel, president of the Boulder Area Trails Coalition, congratulated the council on its decision to purchase the property.
Webel said that while she lives on Prospect Road, west of Longmont, she is familiar with the area of Weld County to the east of Longmont the city is working to preserve as open space.
Bagley said the acquisition of the property, along with others the city has bought or might buy, “is a big deal” and that the Newby Farms purchase will help preserve “the character and beauty of this great area.”
The mayor said he has heard questions from constituents about why the city is spending money and devoting attention to open space instead of addressing such problems as the need for more affordable housing. He said the Longmont is working on both.
Christensen said that “agriculture is Longmont’s heritage.”
She said it has become more and more difficult to afford to be a farmer on one’s own land but that city open space purchases of agricultural land that it will lease to agricultural users producing food for consumption by area residents can benefit “the animals, the people and the farmers.”
Dan Wolford, the city’s land program administrator, and David Bell, Longmont’s natural resources manager, said last week that the city is still negotiating details of another open space purchase the council supported in April — the 70.6-acre Double Six Ranch LLC property north of Union Reservoir and south of Colo. 66.
City staff told council in April that the purchase price of that property and its associated water rights could be about $2.77 million.
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jfryartc