BY FREDA MIKLIN
After several stops and starts, Cherry Hills Village decided during the summer that it would not consider transferring the title to Quincy Farm (QF), the 17.5-acre property at 4400 E. Quincy Avenue that was formerly a working farm, bequeathed to CHV in 2016 by Catherine “Cat” Anderson. As a result, the Cherry Hills Land Preserve (CHLP) was the only entity left that had expressed interest in helping the city operate the property.
On November 2, at its regular city council meeting, Cherry Hills Village City Manager Chris Cramer reviewed the status of the city’s relationship with CHLP regarding QF. Cramer pointed out several items that would be included in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CHLP that needed to be discussed:
Changing the role of city council so that CHLP will take the lead in developing programming for QF and council would take the role of responding to CHLP’s ideas.
Having CHLP develop an annual plan for QF that would:
a. identify how the site will be used;
b. allow the programming to drive what gets presented to council;
c. identify potential improvements to the site.
Cramer said that staff favored the MOU because, “it allows for an incremental process; we don’t have to decide everything on both sides of the farm, like we did with the master plan (that was previously proposed by the Quincy Farm Committee), all at the beginning. Instead, we can take it slow, make good progress in setting up the partnership…but the actual programming and improvements to the site could really develop over time based on how the site’s organically growing.”
He noted that the MOU will need to reflect the responsibilities of CHV and CHLP, continuing, “Obviously the city can bring its own funds to the table from our various parks and rec fund or general fund but also we have the opportunity to initiate a lot of grant funding that we could help pursue in conjunction with CHLP, but CHLP then could also help bring a lot of fundraising to the table as well. Obviously, a key for the MOU is giving them the opportunity to go pursue that fundraising in earnest with real gusto.” Cramer said that he hoped to get the MOU in front of the city council by December 8.
CHV resident Linda Behr, who was recently added to the CHLP board in a leadership position, said, “Our goal is…to establish a simple MOU that would put together a collaborative effort so we can work with the city…to establish a plan for Quincy Farm… We have a lot of great ideas. We have a lot of enthusiasm. We have a lot of people…who are really interested in QF and want to be supportive of the Farm…Our job is to come up with an MOU that gives the authority and permission to come up with some great ideas…”
CHV City Councilmember Afshin Safavi said to Behr, “The ideas, what you want to do, all that should be driven by you guys (CHLP)…I really want to get a better understanding in terms of the budget.” Referencing an earlier list of identified maintenance needs at QF, Safavi wanted to know if the MOU will address, “How much of that money will be coming from the city, the taxpayers, how much will be raised by CHLP, how is that going to work, and break that down, if it’s a 15-year plan, to how much per year and again, who pays for what, in general terms?”
Cramer responded first. He said, “From staff’s perspective, what we would propose to council is, if you recall those three scenarios that we discussed last time would all need to be vetted against priorities. What are the community and council priorities? We still haven’t gone through that yet. That still hasn’t been decided yet….I think the beauty of this current MOU approach is that the programming needs and a lot of the great outreach that the land preserve wants to do will help inform those priorities.” He continued, “I don’t think we need to define the dollar amounts in the MOU.” Safavi responded, “There were items on the list (of needed maintenance items at QF) that, in my book, would fall under must. We’ve got to decide. Are we going to do something about it or we going to just let the building rust and fall apart? If we’re going to do something about it, there is a time element.” Safavi emphasized an immediate answer was not needed, but, “Let’s not forget what needs to be done at a bare minimum to keep things from deteriorating.”
Behr responded that the purpose of the MOU is to outline the roles of the city and that of the CHLP without “getting into the specificity of the details of the plan.” She emphasized CHLP’s desire “to simplify the message.”
Council member Mike Gallagher asked Behr if CHLP was in agreement with the MOU outline of city responsibilities and CHLP responsibilities that the city had prepared. She answered, “Not exactly,” but indicated CHLP was working with the city to resolve the differences, noting, “We are the programmers and you are the owners of the farm.”
Last to speak was Dr. Harold Skramstad, nationally renowned historian who holds a PhD in American history and culture and is a former presidential appointee to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Locally, Dr.
Skramstad is past president of the board of directors of the Urban Farm at Stapleton and presently serves as a member of the Advisory Team for the Institute for Science and Policy at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He is assisting CHLP in developing the MOU with the city. At the request of City Council Member Mike Gallagher, Dr. Skramstad provided his opinion to the city council that this process was moving in the right direction.