DEL NORTE- Since the early to mid-90s Rio Grande County and the Del Norte School District have been trying to work on an agreement in regard to a piece of land that was sold by a local resident to both entities and to lay to rest the issue of who owns the land. In a recent interview with the now called Upper Rio Grande School District, Superintendent Chris Burr stated that the land in question belongs to the school.
Burr provided information about the piece of land that is located behind the new school and is referred to as the Del Norte Community Athletic Fields Linear Walking Trail, which shows that at one point in 1995, Rio Grande County should have transferred ownership of the land per an agreement made between the two entities. “No one seemed to know what was happening with this land until I came on board in 2016. While doing research for the BEST grant that was later awarded to the district, I came upon documentation that shows we should be the owners of this piece of property,” said Burr.
The documents provided include an agreement between the county and the school district which states that the county would be responsible for purchasing the property for a total of $66,025, two-thirds of which was to be paid for by the school as well as a warranty deed which gives ownership from the local resident who sold the property to the county. In addition, there is also a Deed of Trust which states the same.
“We have documentation proving that the school made their payments to the county and that the county also paid their portion of the purchase. It was at that time that the county was supposed to transfer ownership to the school but for some reason that never occurred,” stated Burr.
Earlier this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a conversation pertaining to the land was brought back to the table. The current Rio Grande Commissioner Board opened the topic hoping to resolve their fiscal responsibility for a GOCO grant that was attached to the land and hoped to transfer their fiscal responsibility and ownership of the land to the Town of Del Norte. Del Norte Mayor Chris Trujillo signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a meeting held July 10 and sent it back to the county for their approval and signature. The document was never signed, and the town opted out of the proposal and the topic was tabled until further research could be done.
“We are still the fiscal agents and owners of the land in question. We are willing to have the conversation with the school and review the documentation that they have complied in order to lay this issue to rest. We do not have an agenda for the land or the GOCO grant and only want to make sure that what is done with the land benefits the community,” said Rio Grande Commissioner John Noffsker.
At this time the land remains in the ownership of the county and the county is still the fiscal sponsors for the current GOCO grant. In a letter to the school from Great Outdoors Colorado it states, “The current contract also stipulates that the grantee maintains property ownership of the project site.”
Burr has also stated that the school has maintained the property for the past 25 years as per the agreement with the county and now is only asking to be able to move forward with project plans and use the GOCO grant funding to complete the walking trail and recreational site. “We want to make this something great for the community. We have already created the new school, which in my opinion is already something great for Del Norte. When I say I want to do something great for the community, that’s what I want.”
The issue remains unresolved at this time but all involved hope to come to an agreement that will benefit the Del Norte community and to create an outdoor recreational opportunity for all who wish to utilize it.