The Albany County Commission is hosting a public meeting to hear public opinions about the potential land purchase of about 5,500 acres from the east edge of Laramie to Medicine Bow National Forest. The commission hosted a similar meeting Thursday, when residents such as Peter Thorsness, Niesey Heckart and Carrie Gulvin told the commission their opinions of the purchase.
Thorsness, University of Wyoming microbiology department head, said the purchase would help the university bring in people because of the recreational activities close to the city. Also, bringing more people to the city would help local economic development in the process.
“There are two things they are after: schools for children and opportunities for immediate return on their very limited time, and the proximity of something like this is really important,” Thorsness said. “I don’t think you can underestimate the economic development issue of this. It’s going to be a huge attraction feature.”
Heckart said she is in favor of the purchase because it provides people in Wyoming and Colorado with a chance to take advantage of the area’s mild summers and enjoy the outdoors without suffering through the heat.
“I really support this,” Heckart said. “I think that Laramie is very unique, in its altitude that we are at, and the fact that a lot of people, even regionally, even in the state and in Colorado at this point in the year, it’s too hot outside and it’s too hot to be out during the middle of the day.
“We have a really sweet spot in the middle of summer when people want to escape the heat and their rattlesnakes and do outdoor activities.”
Laramie having access to trails to the national forest is ideal for recreation. The opportunity the county has is unique and the county should try to purchase the land, Gulvin said.
“Having trails right outside your door is such a pleasure, and if this opportunity presented to the county, it would be really dumb to not take it,” she said. “I am from the east coast, upstate New York, and these offers do not come — so this is like sitting on a golden egg.”
Albany County Commission Chairman Tim Chesnut said he agreed this is a rare opportunity for the community and it could help the community improve economic development and the quality of life for Albany County residents.
“This isn’t just a land purchase, this isn’t just public land — this is something so much bigger for this community,” Chesnut said.
“It could be economic development, it could be quality of life improvement, it could be something that other communities don’t have,”“A lot of communities, even in the West, don’t have this. Nobody back east has this.”
The public hearing is at 6 p.m. Monday at the Albany County District Courtroom, and the decision on the purchase will be made at the County Commission meeting Tuesday.