Does the City have a position on the April ballot measure?
No. The City as an entity does not take a position. However, the City Council or members of the City Council individually may take positions on the measure.
What is the ballot measure language?
The language appearing on the April 6 ballot is:
Shall the City enact an ordinance requiring the City Council of the City of Fort Collins to immediately rezone upon passage of the ordinance a 164.56-acre parcel of real property formerly home to the Hughes Stadium from the Transition District to the Public Open Lands District, and requiring the City to acquire the property at fair market value to use said property for parks, recreation, and open lands, natural areas, and wildlife rescue and restoration, and further prohibiting the City from de-annexing, ceasing acquisition efforts or subsequently rezoning the property without voter approval of a separate initiative referred to the voters by City Council, and granting legal standing to any registered elector in the City to seek injunctive and/or declaratory relief in the courts related to City noncompliance with said ordinance?
Did the City try to purchase the property already?
Yes. The City offered CSU about $7 million for all but a small part of the Hughes site in 2020. CSU’s Board of Governor’s voted to move forward with the plans as envisioned by CSU rather than accept the City’s offer.
Can the City force CSU to sell the property to the City?
It is unlikely the City can force CSU to sell the property to the City or any other person.
Does CSU’s proposed development mesh with the City’s long-term goals?
Alignment with the City’s long-term goals would be evaluated as part of the City’s development review process. As of February 2021, a development review application has not been submitted.
What is the cost burden to the City to develop the Hughes site into a natural area?
City staff would need to develop a plan for use of the Hughes site in order to estimate the costs of development and restoration.
The Natural Areas Department staff estimates that to bring the site to native vegetation as much as possible would cost $1.5-$2 million. To open the site (build a trail loop, vault toilet, parking lot, kiosk, fencing, etc) would cost about $2 million.
While the funding source would be ultimately subject to Council discretion, staff would recommend that Council utilize the reserve balances generated by the voter-enacted "Open Space, Yes" ballot measure alongside other eligible reserve balances from Natural Areas-specific funding sources. Council retains the option to utilize the General Fund or other funding sources instead of Natural Areas.
What are the criteria for acquiring property as a natural area?
Generally, the Natural Areas Department may only acquire land from a willing seller. The department considers numerous criteria when prioritizing a site for acquisition including: current and potential wildlife habitat values; access to nature for the community; value as buffer or addition to an existing natural area; existing condition of property and the cost to restore; other conservation values such as scenic, community separator, agriculture, cultural resources; alignment with City Plan goals and the Natural Areas Master Plan; and education opportunities.