BLM may turn over SARA Park to Havasu
The Bureau of Land Management may soon give the city a land patent for SARA Park.
Approximately five years ago, Lake Havasu City applied for a land patent with the agency, which would give the municipality ownership of SARA Park, according to Mayor Mark Nexsen.
As a part of its process to grant the land patent, the BLM posted a notice Tuesday in the Today’s News-Herald stating that it intends to classify the land for conveyance by Oct. 15 so it “can be patented and title given to” the city.
“It’s a lengthy process; it’s got to go through local channels and back to regional and then Washington D.C. but it sounds like we’re nearing the end of it so that’s really great,” said Nexsen, adding that he does not know how much longer the process may take.
A representative with the BLM was not immediately available to comment.
In the early 2000s, the city assumed Mohave County’s lease with the BLM for control of SARA Park, according to News-Herald archives. Since then, the city has made improvements at the park; however, with a land patent, the city could “continue to make improvements out at SARA Park knowing that we’re going to have that on a long-term basis,” stated Nexsen.
He added that, in order to apply for the land patent from BLM, the city had to submit a plan of development for the area and, if the land patent is granted, any future improvements would have to follow the plan of development.
“It’s going to be a park…(the BLM) wants this land to be used for public purposes and recreation,” said Nexsen, adding that any violation of the patent agreement could result in the land reverting to BLM.
The city has plans to further develop a sports complex at SARA Park, which would bring more ballfields to Havasu. While a $630,000 design contract for the projects was approved by the City Council last year, the project was put on hold in August 2017 when the council was informed that it’s ongoing operating and maintaining costs would exceed the city’s expenditure limitation.
“Obviously we could, under the expenditure limitation, go out and borrow the money to build the park but then you wouldn’t go out to borrow money to maintain the park and that’s what was causing the problem,” said Nexsen. “But now that Prop. 409 has passed, we’re allowed to use the reserves we already have to be able to maintain a new and improved park.”
According to Stuart Schmeling, the city’s zoning administrator, the city is not required to pay an annual fee to BLM under lease agreement terms. He added that, if the land patent is granted, the city would no longer be required to ask the BLM for approval to make improvements in the area but rather, as a courtesy, the city would notify the agency of any future changes. However, he said, any changes to the submitted development plan would require an amendment.
Written comments about the proposed classification can be submitted on or before Sept. 28 to the BLM Lake Havasu Field Office at 1785 Kiowa Avenue, the notice states.