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Lafayette city council approves purchase of Waneka Centennial Farm Open Space

The deal consists of three parcels, a partnership with the county and $8.5 million

Lafayette City Council could approve an $8.5 million purchase of Waneka Centennial Farm on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of city of Lafayette)
Lafayette City Council could approve an $8.5 million purchase of Waneka Centennial Farm on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of city of Lafayette)

After months of negotiations and years of discussion, Lafayette officials agreed to acquire the Waneka Centennial Farm Open Space.

Lafayette City Council unanimously agreed to purchase the space on Tuesday night.

The purchase will cost $8.5 million. The county will partner 50-50 with the city on the acquisition of a larger parcel, which is valued at $7.53 million. The city’s total cost will be about $4.7 million and the county’s $3.7 million.

There are three parcels of land associated with the purchase.

The first is 137 acres east of 119th and south of Baseline Road. It extends east and includes the Powers Marsh. The city and Boulder County Parks and Open Space will partner 50-50 for that purchase.

The second purchase will consist of four acre homestead, which is referred to as the Centennial Farm, which will be bought by the city.

The third will consist of a 100-foot buffer from Baseline Road south along the Burlington Trail to Emma Street, which will incorporate the Old Town Marsh. It also includes a 50-foot buffer east along Emma Street to the 137 acre parcel.

City Administrator Fritz Sprague said there will be enough space to build a trail connecting the 14 acres to the larger parcel.

The city and county are currently in the process of having the Centennial Farm and buffer surveyed to determine precise boundaries.

To finance the purchase, the city will be using money from its Legacy and General Funds. It will arrange for an inter-fund loan to pay back the general fund over a specified period of time, according to the staff report.

Sprague said there were a couple stipulations.

“One of (Waneka’s) stipulations is the open space acquisition is not used for prairie dog relocation,” Sprague said. “Which we have agreed to. He stated that was something he wanted.”

He added the city will also need to execute a pre-annexation agreement.

“The pre-annexation agreement essentially is that staff will make a recommendation that we will support commercial, residential, mixed-use zoning,” Sprague said. “We will provide municipal services to the area, and public land dedication will be deferred until annexation.”

City attorney David Williamson said it is a “bare bones” agreement.

He said it does not require Waneka to annex the property, but if he does petition to annex, the city will enter into another agreement.

“In greater detail we would talk about the specific uses on the property. Right now, I don’t think Mr. Waneka is certain enough about the proposed uses for his property to enter into an annexation agreement,” Williamson said. “That’s why we’re going to have a very bare bones pre-annexation agreement that ensures Mr. Waneka we will work in good faith with him toward an annexation agreement and towards annexation.”

A few board members expressed their excitement over the agreement.

“This is a lot of open space for a limited amount of funds,” said council member Nicole Samson. “I think it’s terrific we’re working with Boulder County on it. We get to preserve a habitat in there, as well as a buffer that I know the community has been asking for. That’s a lot. That’s a great little present.”

Council member Jamie Harkins said she remembers when she was elected being shown the property.

“This is a really big deal for the city of Lafayette,” Harkins said.

The city hopes to have a closing date of the larger parcel by Nov. 15.

“That is a rather aggressive schedule, but we feel fairly confident we would be able to do that,” Sprague said.

He said the seller asked if they would be able to use the homestead until April, and potentially July.

“They currently have a tenant on the property and we have to work through that angle of things,” Sprague said. “It may be better to keep a tenant on a property until we figure out what we’re going to do with it.”

Sprague added the Wanekas have began planting and will be farming until July. The county will be the manager on the property and will address this through a lease-back.

City Council will vote on a package of contracts and agreements regarding the purchase during its Nov. 4 meeting.

“There will be a lot of things coming to council on the 4th,” Sprague said.

He added Boulder County Commissioners will be discussing the purchase during their Nov. 12 meeting.

To see the presentation and staff report, visit The report begins on page 327.

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