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Northlands Project could receive a boost

by Larry Patrick

WALSENBURG- The Huerfano County Commissioners have offered the city of Walsenburg a boost in getting the Northlands project moving forward. The city has been stymied in raising funds for the project because their cash reserves are too low to handle matching grants or get loans.

   The county expects to receive a 35-acre plot of land to be donated by Faris Land and Cattle. The land would be used for development of a light industrial park on Hwy 69 west of the Budget Host Motel. To be used as an industrial park, the land must have water, sewer and electricity available. In order to get the water and sewer to the site, Faris Land and Cattle has agreed to grant an easement to the City across two other lots they own in return for the right to tap into the water and sewer lines for a reduced fee.

  If the county can secure the land, it will then submit a grant application to the Economic Development Administration for the installation of the water and sewer lines and a portion of a lift station needed for the rest of their sewer project in the Northlands area. A local match of funds is required, so the county is asking the city to provide the manpower to install the water and sewer lines. The county would buy the pipe, valves, manholes and other hardware for the project. The grant will be written for $800,000. The cost for the project is thought to be around $280,000 for the water and sewer lines. With the city’s help in doing the installing, the leftover funds can be used for the lift station that is required to bring Northlands online.

   City Administrator Alan Hein believes the offer is a definite win-win for everyone. It would save the city about a million dollars of the cost of providing the rest of the water and sewer lines needed for the Northlands Project and would also benefit the rest of Walsenburg with some new infrastructure that is sorely needed. It could also allow retail businesses to locate at the interstate area to provide additional jobs and sales tax revenue.

   The City Council, after some tentative concern about moving forward without first having more information, voted unanimously to provide the labor if the grant was secured.  If the city can partner with the county, it will move the Northlands project forward at a time when the city can’t do so by itself because of financial restraints.

   The county would also guarantee that the land be annexed into the city so that the city could take advantage of sales tax revenue generated by businesses that move onto the 35-acre plot. There is already a manufacturing company interested in locating there which would provide jobs and revenue for the area. No details on the company are available at this time.