Lamar Council Tours Valco Pond, Financing is Key to Project

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The Lamar City Council toured the Valco Pond properties Monday afternoon, October 22nd, reviewing landscaping work done at the site by the owner, Tom Brubaker, this past spring and summer.  Almost 110 acres of land and three ponds will eventually be deeded to the city to turn into a public recreation area.  The city needs approximately $60,000 to develop a master plan which can be submitted to GoCo for funding to help develop the property.  The land is being donated to the city by Valco owner, Tom Brubaker.

Jim Larrick, former Lamar City Councilman, is acting as facilitator on the project during the formative planning stages.  Master Plan funding aside, financing for the project is a major concern to the city council.  Larrick has suggested the city take ownership which will allow the council to apply for numerous funding sources to finance revegetation, weed control and seeding projects.  He said that this early action will help move the project forward, perhaps by a year or two instead of delaying.  Larrick, Mayor Roger Stagner and City Administrator John Sutherland have discussed financing strategies for future ownership.  Stagner expressed concerns on what acceptance of the property would mean to city finances for the next several years.  Travis Black, Area Wildlife Manager for the Division of Parks and Wildlife accompanied the council during its tour of the property.  Black said the city could qualify for funding from Watchable Wildlife sources, Fishing for Fun or even a federal grant from the Motor Boat Access Fund.  “You might need to have a few 5 hp outboards in these ponds, but it would open the door to apply for grants,” he explained. 

While there are some broad concepts for the acreage, the master plan will tie together the potential uses for the land and how it will be landscaped to provide a large-scale, outdoor recreation source for the area.  Larrick stated, “The other lakes to the north of us are all drying up and fewer and fewer people are going out there.”  He, Black, and the council agreed that hunting should be prohibited at the site, falling in line with the Prowers County Commissioners thoughts on that subject.  The commissioners have said they would attempt to contribute $5,000 to the Master Plan project.  Larrick said he has one or two citizens who would also contribute funds, as well as some area farmers who would lend equipment to the project.   

The land was broadcast seeded with a form of prairie grass this past spring, but only about 1% rooting took place in the rocky surfaces nearer the highway.  There was more dirt on the land at the eastern most section, but two and three-foot tumbleweeds have been growing for several months and needed to be taken down and the furrows leveled out a bit.  “I’m concerned that these weeds will just break off and start falling into the ponds,” he told Black.  The wildlife manager said the tamarisk control could be funded through a wetlands funding grant.  The Bureau of Reclamation makes the decision as to whether land has been property administered for reclamation or reseeding. 

During the late afternoon tour, several flocks of geese were already circling some of the fields due east of the pond area and ducks had already settled in for the evening on the larger pond.  The property is still privately owned and public access has been prohibited.  Several times this past spring and summer the police department had to remind citizens who were fishing in the ponds that they would have to leave.  Larrick said he hoped to have more information for the council by next week regarding ownership developments.

In other council action, six liquor sales establishments in Lamar had their annual liquor licenses renewed during Monday night’s  meeting.  They are:  Love’s Travel Shop at 615 North Main Street, The Cow Palace Inn, Corner Wine and Liquor Shoppe, Desiree’s, Lamar Lanes and Stockmen’s Motor Inn. 

John Sutherland, Lamar City Administrator, briefed the council on the progress made by Honeywell Building Solutions of Boulder.  The city contracted with the company for energy conservation recommendations to various city owned properties.  The Honeywell representatives have been directing their efforts at the Lamar Community Building during the first phase of the project.

Sutherland reminded the council and audience about some calendar events in the near future including the annual Moonlight Madness Festival on Thursday, October 25, Daylight Savings Time will expire the first weekend in November when we set our clocks back one hour on Sunday, November 4; the General Election will be conducted on Tuesday, November 6 and the following morning, the city council will hold it’s monthly informal breakfast from 7am to 8am at McDonald’s Restaurant in Lamar.  The public is encouraged to attend. 

Parks and Recreation Director, Rick Akers, addressed the council regarding a plan to increase annual membership for services provided by the Lamar Community Building.  Akers outlined a plan for a month-long membership drive this December which will reduce fees by 25% for age groups and family plans.  Corporate memberships would remain exempt from the discounts.  The council approved his recommendation and flyers will be distributed throughout the community.

The council went into executive session with the city’s water attorney to receive legal advice on particular and specific questions regarding litigation involving the City of Lamar.

By Russ Baldwin


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