Windsor is taking another step toward realizing its plan for Keiser Park, after the town council unanimously approved the purchase of a property at 625 Wall Street. The land will be used to help develop an aquatic facility and multi-use recreation center.
The council OKed the purchase of two other properties — located at 450 Duncan Drive and 475 Ginny Drive — on Sept. 15 as part of the same project.
“It is really in line with the town’s 2040 General Plan, which called out specifically the property acquisition and the expansion of Keiser Park,” said Olivia Lemen, the town’s parks and facilities manager, during the council’s Oct. 20 meeting. “The purchase of these three properties move forward both the General Plan as well as the Parks and Recreation Plan … As we’re talking about bringing in these additional housing units, this really allows us to grow and expand our parks system.”
The land on Wall Street is 2.55 acres and, according to Lemen, contains one single-family home with a current tenant. The land has one existing well that the city has yet to inspect and has about 0.16 acres of wetlands that the city would have to either mitigate or workaround. The town would be purchasing it for $1.46 million.
Vice Mayor Rosa Reynoza questioned why the 2.55 acres of property comes in at $1.46 million, to which Lemen said that three different appraisers have examined the properties the town has purchased as part of the Keiser Park expansion plans and that all of the appraisals came in around the same amount.
The purchase agreement for the property will extend through Sept. 30, 2022 with the potential for a 90-day expansion, and acquiring grant funding to fund the purchase is a condition of the sale’s close. Windsor has requested to modify its current grant application through the Open Space District to use $650,000 for the purchase of the land.
“An extended purchase agreement allows us to really seek additional funding sources for this project,” Lemen said, adding that the town wants to move to purchase the land before funding is secured because doing so will allow them to move forward with other steps of the planning process.
“What we’re seeing is that grant funding opportunities are really wanting to fund property acquisition with an idea of what it will be used for, so we’re running into this chicken-or-the-egg situation where we don’t know how we’re going to develop the property because we haven’t updated the master plan,” Lemen said, “and we can’t update the master plan until we have a secure understanding of whether the ownership will be under the town’s name.”
Lemen said that she couldn’t speak to how likely it would be that the town will receive grant funding for the property, she is confident in the town’s pursuit of the funds, noting that they meet weekly to discuss potential funding options.
Another option when it comes to funding the purchase outside of the city’s General Fund includes dipping into the city’s park development fund, depending on how much money is brought in from new development.