News: Land transfers demonstrate cooperation
Story by 1st Lt. Christian Venhuizen
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Two separate land deals involving the Wyoming Military Department could turn into economic positives for the Guernsey and Platte County communities, said Guernsey Mayor Ed Delgado.
“It’s a win-win situation for the town and the (military department),” he said.
The two deals include a transfer of military department property to the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails.
“The transfer sets up a fantastic State Park that will allow for greater exploration of the Oregon Trail,” said Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, Wyoming’s adjutant general. “The anticipated draw of additional tourists to the area will create a positive economic impact for the town of Guernsey and Platte and Goshen counties.”
The other transfer includes a land exchange with the town of Guernsey, preserving a trailer park and providing the town with land for a possible business park, Delgado said.
The land exchange involves an agreement to transfer a number of properties, including a trailer park where the Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center borders the town. The property was originally identified as a part of a possible location for a $21 million federally-funded training complex.
Reiner and other military department leaders had multiple discussions at town council meetings, meetings with the mayor and concerned residents and a public meeting in August 2012, to discuss the transfer because it affected a number of town residents due to the number of town residents who would have been displaced from the trailer park.
“Lots of discussions at multiple levels,” said Reiner. “The primary one of interest however was between the tenants of the trailer park, the leadership of the town and the Wyoming Military Department. All parties realized we had a problem and were willing to sit down and work it out.”
“They really listened to the input of the residents,” said Cate Cundall, the town clerk and treasurer. “Having that public forum really helped with some misperceptions and gave out some good information.”
“The townspeople are very happy to stay where they are,” Delgado said. “(The military department) really listened to the input of the residents.”
“The best interests of the community and the agency were protected by compromise and an honest look at what was actually required. The community has a requirement for affordable housing and many of the tenants of that trailer park had been there for many years,” said Reiner. “It is their home.”
The agreement allows the town to take ownership of most of the trailer park, minus a portion the military department needs to facilitate the potential construction of a building that would provide classrooms, meeting spaces and emergency shelters for the camp and the community, said Col. Richard Knowlton, Camp Guernsey’s commander.
“I think it helps us and it helps them,” Knowlton said. “Understand, we are a part of the community.”
The agreement also gives the town a parcel of land that could be converted into a business park, but town officials are still deciding its best use, said Cundall.
The other part of the land transfer has the town of Guernsey signing over property in the Warm Springs area. The Wyoming Military Department will receive the property, then turn it over to Wyoming State Parks as part of a separate transfer of historic and culturally significant lands.
During the 2013 Wyoming State Legislature, Senate File 43, later becoming Senate Enrolled Act 32, was introduced, allowing the transfer a section of military department property to Wyoming State Parks.
“There are numerous parcels in (Camp Guernsey’s boundaries) that hold no training value to the Soldiers who are training there, but there is immeasurable cultural value in many of these parcels; those that the Oregon and California trails pass through and those that are traditional Native American cultural features,” said Lt. Col. Guy Beaudoin, the Wyoming Army National Guard’s construction and facilities management officer.
“It’s three agencies, working together and it went so well,” said Cundall.
The enrolled act transfers land with cultural and historical significance in the Warm Springs area to Wyoming State Parks, once the land is deemed safe.
The safety concern stems from nearby firing ranges. The safety models used by the Wyoming Army National factors in the possibility of a stray bullet shot from an odd angle. Some of the Warm Springs property includes areas where those accidental shots may land.
“We’ve got some tasks to do (in that area) to mitigate some factors. In other cases, we may need to move some of our facilities,” said Knowlton. “We’re not going to transfer land that will place anyone in jeopardy.”
He said the military department began the process to eliminate the risks, allowing the property to be transferred. However, there is no specific date for the transfer to occur.
“My goal is that the Wyoming Military Department is completely embedded in the community, that we are absolutely the best neighbor we can be and that the community is our best advocate,” said Reiner.