In a stunning lack of common sense or ethics, the Loveland City Manager, Don Williams, told the local media that the Council decided (following a closed meeting) not to buy Staples Farm for open space. According to Councilors, no such desicion was made. Williams is now defending himself by saying the comment was a negotiation tactic and not true.
The idea to purchase Staples Farm for open space was first proposed by John P. Lewis, local real estate broker and land use expert/author, when the council was considering an application to annex and zone the property. Lewis, who also is a member of the city's Open Lands Advisory Commission, suggested the city explore acquiring the property by using the open lands funding received by the state and Larimer County to resolve the differences between the investment group looking to develop the land and adjacent property owners.
However, Brian Hayes, the city staff responsible for advising the commission and Mayor Pielin are being accused of manipulating the process to the point where the option was never allowed a fair hearing before the commission.
In addition, a number of angry citizens have contacted LovelandPolitics to say the Mayor was playing both sides of the fence. He met with the investors and promised to help them develop the land while also pretending to support the open space plan when meeting with the Save Staples Farm supporters.
Now the Save Staples Farm group is promising to raise the question again at another City Council meeting to force Councilmembers to make the decision in public (as required by law) instead of in private. The city has access to $6.6 million to acquire open space but Pielin has said he wants it saved for another piece of land not to be disclosed - ugh...more secret governing when those decisions are supposed to be made during public meetings.