By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon city officials have agreed to lease 156.7 acres of what is known as the “sports park property” on the city’s west edge.
By a 3-2 vote, the Yukon City Council (convening as the Yukon Municipal Authority) on Feb. 16 awarded the land lease to Williams Family Investments LLC for property near Main Street (SH-66) and Frisco Road.
The lease is for $11,752.50 annually, to be paid in $979.38 monthly increments.
Assistant City Manager Mitchell Hort recommended the council award the bid to Williams Family Investments LLC.
The property will be used “as pastureland,” Hort advised.
“The term of lease is for three years starting on March 1, 2021 and continues for a period thereafter until March 1, 2024; and if both parties agree it may be extended for an additional three years.”
The lease can be terminated at any time with a 190-day written notice.
The City of Yukon last fall solicited bids for anyone interested in leasing the large piece of property, which had been proposed for a sports park development.
Ward 4 City Council Member Aric Gilliland, who joined Vice Mayor Jeff Wootton in voting “no” on this land lease, asked fellow members to “really consider what’s on the table.”
Gilliland doesn’t believe the City of Yukon should lease out the land for livestock use, with barbed-wire fences around the property.
“We have a lot of folks in town who would like to see the city do something with that land,” he said.
Gilliland referred to previous failed attempts to pass tax proposals to fund development of a sports complex on the site.
“It’s led some people to believe we’ll never do anything with it,” the Ward 4 councilman added. “But I don’t think we have to stop there. I think that we need to plan on using that land.
“We call it the ‘sports park land’ for a reason, and I think it needs to be used for that.”
Ward 3 Council Member Donna Yanda said City officials don’t have to stop “planning ahead” to develop the site while, at the same time, temporarily leasing the property.
“At least they’re going to maintain it in the meantime,” Yanda said. “Otherwise, the city has to maintain it.
“The planning for the sports park is always on-going.”
Gilliland also believes the financial benefit from this land lease will be “fairly insignificant” to the city budget.
“I think the costs are out-weighing the benefit,” he added.
Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby noted it would cost the City of Yukon to maintain the property, saying this lease will generate some revenue.
“I don’t see us doing anything to that land in the next year because of the projects we have going,” said Selby, the Yukon Municipal Authority chairwoman.
‘HIGHEST, BEST BID’
Williams Family Investments LLC (the “lessee”) submitted the highest and best bid for the 156.7-acre land, which must be fenced in.
“Lessee is renting the leased property for the purpose of use in grazing livestock to include horses and cattle,” according to the lease.
The lessee will be allowed to construct two ponds or tanks with 100-foot by 100-foot surface areas and maximum depths of eight feet. The lessee also will be allowed to install a water well on the property.
The lease was signed by Selby and Dale Dorsey, manager of Williams Family Investments LLC.
Hort told council members in December 2020 that this was a good time to lease the property, which now must be mowed and maintained to keep volunteer trees from springing up.
“Anything we do with the park will be down the road a-ways,” Hort reasoned.
At the Feb. 16th city council meeting, Hort pointed to the termination clause in the lease.
“With a 190-day notice, the lease can be terminated,” he said. “We put that termination in there (because) we knew, in the future, we’d be doing something with it.
“We have the ability to terminate the lease if, at some point, we felt it was time to move forward with whatever the council wanted to do with the property.”
The 190-day notice would give the lessee ample time to remove their livestock and take down fencing, City Manager Tammy Kretchmar added.
The City of Yukon will keep a 600-foot strip of land from Frisco Road to the west, not part of this lease, for future economic development. The city still must maintain this portion of the property.
A new $14 million interchange at Interstate 40 and Frisco Road – directly south – is due to open early this fall. Yukon city officials believe the interchange will spur development, notably hotels, restaurants and other major retailers.
Council Member Gilliland believes having plans for a sports/recreation park would entice different developers to that area than if it remained agriculture land.
“If a fence is up and there’s a few hundred head of cattle out there, then that’s a different story when a developer shows up to look at the place,” he said.