The Saratoga Sun -

A sliver of hope

Progress of Never Forget Park comes down to .37 acres

 

March 31, 2022



By Joshua Wood

As the Saratoga Town Council seeks to, at the very least, start construction on Never Forget Park in Memory of Staff Sergeant Tyler Pickett this year there seems to be one minor hurdle for the governing body.

A small sliver of land less than half an acre in size which the Town of Saratoga may have to conduct a land swap to obtain. The discussion came during the March 15 meeting of the governing body.

For more than a decade, various incarnations of the town council have discussed building a park in memory of Staff Sergeant Tyler Pickett, a Saratoga High School graduate who was killed in action in July 2008 while serving in Iraq. As faces on the council changed, or remained the same, the future home of the park adjacent to Veterans Island had seen little development. Recent fundraising work undertaken by the current council, however, have seemed to show some fruition for the memorial park.

With funds raised and a committee steering the project, Councilmember D’Ron Campbell—who is one of three council members who serves on the steering committee for the park—provided an update to the rest of the council. 

“We’ve moved up our phases and we’d like to start with curb and gutter, even though we don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like we have an idea. Stacy Crimmins is sending what we have back to WLC so we can get some good numbers and we’d like to request that we get an RFP (Request for Proposals) at least started from Jon Winter,” said Campbell. “We understand it might need to be changed but, at this time of year, we probably need to get going on it.” 

As discussion continued, Councilmember Jon Nelson suggested WLC provide a proposal for the RFP rather than it being completed by Winter. Nelson also asked what other work was proposed to be completed this year aside from the curb and gutter.

According to Campbell, installation of the irrigation system and grading of the park were expected to be completed this year. Nelson also asked if the park had a focal point in Phase 1 of the project. Campbell referenced a grant received from the Platte Valley Arts Council.

“We got that grant from the Platte Valley Arts Council … for the memorial itself and they want to have that dedicated and inplace with a concrete base Labor Day,” Campbell said.

Both Nelson and Councilmember Ron Hutchins, who joined via phone, requested sidewalk work be completed along with curb and gutter. Hutchins made the point that it would move the schedule ahead while Nelson said it would prevent damage to the curb and gutter.

It was during this discussion Mayor James informed the rest of the council a survey had been conducted on property at Myrtle Avenue and South Veterans Street owned by the Town of Saratoga. In the last meeting of 2021, James brought up the potential of a land swap and the need to survey the small strip of land which is set between the roads and property owned by Saratoga Hot Springs Resort owner Michael Janssen.

According to James, the survey determined the property was 2.6 acres. The mayor said Janssen believed the property was going to be “much, much smaller” and had expressed interest in a small strip of land near South Veterans Street. A survey of that property showed it was .47 acres while the property between the park and Arrowhead Drive was .37 acres.

“In order for us to move forward with a property swap of any sort … the one thing we’d have to do is get an appraisal on the property,” said James. “If we don’t acquire that strip of land there, it really limits what we can do with the park in terms of parking and traffic flows.”

Nelson, who previously made public appeals to Janssen to donate the less than half acre to the Town of Saratoga, made a similar appeal on March 15.

“I think the fact that we’re at a point where we’re having to swap .37 acres for .37 acres and that’s the holdup in getting the park developed and developed property—I mean, that’s going to be a tremendous benefit to the adjacent landowner. I’d just put out there, one last time, if he would reconsider donating that property to the Town for the purpose of Never Forget Park,” said Nelson. “That would certainly be appreciated by the entire community.”

James told the council he would approach Janssen one final time about donating the sliver of property. If the appeal for a donation would not generate results, however, he would ask for a motion from the council to approve an appraisal of the two properties.

The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 6 p.m. on April 5 at Saratoga Town Hall.

 

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