Here's the deal: The Land Board is offering the land at a more reasonable price these days and it's not going to put the property through an open bidding process. Which means the city doesn't have to fight anyone to buy it.
The city, using money from its dedicated Trails, Open Space and Parks tax, has long wanted to buy the property. But attempts at purchasing it had been all but derailed after the state asked for far more money for the property than most appraisals showed it was worth.
Complicating matters more, the Land Board used to be required to put land it sold up to bid publicly, which meant the city parks department would have had to compete with deep-pocketed developers for the acreage.
Thanks to a new law, the Land Board is able to bypass that bidding process on a select number of properties each year. And the city was lucky that the Land Board chose to make Section 16 one of them.
There. That sounds simple enough.
Now, if you want a laugh, read the press release we got last night from the Land Board and see if you can make any sense of it:
M E D I A R E L E A S E
STATE LAND BOARD APPROVES DIRECT EXCHANGE OF MANITOU 16
TO COLORADO SPRINGS IN FIRST USE OF NEW AUTHORITY
DENVER, Colo. - The Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners voted to approve the
selection of the popular Manitou 16 open space property for a direct exchange with the City of
This is the first parcel approved for a direct exchange under legislation which authorizes
the State Board of Land Commissioners to convey land to local governments if the conveyance
would add value to adjoining or nearby State Trust property, benefit Board operations, or
comply with local land use regulations. Conveyance must be based on fair market value. In the
past, the Board could only dispose of land through a public bid process. The Board voted to
select Manitou 16 for this program at its June 4 public meeting in Trinidad.
The bill, HB-1165, was co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs)
and Sen. Abel Tapia (D-Pueblo) and signed into law by Gov. Ritter in April.
The 640-acre Manitou 16 property has been leased for public recreation since 1972, first
by El Paso County then the City. In 1998, the parcel was nominated to the State Land Board’s
Stewardship Trust, which serves to protect the long-term productivity and sound stewardship of
lands held in trust by the Board, that are of particularly high scenic, ecological or geologic value.
In conjunction with its decision to designate Manitou 16 for direct exchange, the Board
also voted to initiate its public process on the proposed non-simultaneous exchange of the
Manitou 16 tract, located in the foothills between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
The transaction would dispose of a parcel of State Trust Land that is surrounded on
three sides by City-Owned Open Space and Forest Service property and provide the Board with
the opportunity to acquire replacement property for the benefit of the trust beneficiary while
satisfying the requirements of HB-1165. In making its decision the Board determined that the
continued stewardship of the property was best handled by the local community.
The Land Board’s non-simultaneous exchange process involves disposing of State Trust
land property for cash, which is deposited in a replacement property account. By law, the Land
Board has two years from the date it receives the money to reinvest the proceeds in another
asset or assets.
The transfer of this property to the City will also require that the City enter into a longterm
Non-Development Lease on the mineral assets, which will be retained by the State Land
Board. Accordingly, the Board also directed staff to negotiate the non-development agreement
for the minerals under the property.
The State Land Board manages its three million acres of land and four million acres of
mineral rights for the benefit of eight trusts, the largest of which is the School Trust. The Board
is charged with making reasonable and consistent income for its trust beneficiaries and making
its decisions based on the long-term best interests of the beneficiaries. It does not provide free
use of its land for open space, recreation or any other use.
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This release is also available on the Web at http://trustlands.state.co.us, under News Releases