The future of Erie's Schofield Farm, once home to longtime occupant Eva Distel before her lease expired last summer — and since slated for a historical museum — continues to remain in limbo as officials look to answer questions.
Last summer, Distel's lease, an agreement that was made in conjunction with the town's purchase of the property in 2014, expired.
Since then, Erie officials have struggled to formulate and implement a specific plan for the property.
"Does anyone have a vision for what this property will be?" Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Gruber asked fellow trustees at Tuesday's board meeting. "We are the leaders of the community — we're supposed to have our finger on the pulse and understand what the community wants.
"I'm having trouble right now between the cart and the horse and what comes first," he added. "I'm not sure we should be spending money to study the one component until we know what we're doing in terms of history overall throughout the town."
The solution could by a hybrid, one that could fit as a historical site and as active open space, officials said.
"When we bought the farm from Eva, we said we were going to turn it into a working farm and an historical site," Mayor Tina Harris said. "But I also think you could throw some picnic tables out there and build some trails — it's a big property.
"We need somebody to define it and tell us exactly what it takes to do all of that," she added. "Which would be a plan."
Since Erie purchased the site, repairs elating to maintenance of the septic system were paid for by the town in order for Distel could remain there for final two years of the lease.
The town would have had to pay roughly $300,000 to repair the failed septic system and retain the site as a livable dwelling, officials said.
Despite temporary fixes for the site, the septic issue left Erie and Boulder County with their hands tied over the property.
"At the time of closing on the purchase of the property," town spokesman Fred Diehl wrote in an email at the time, "Boulder County imposed a requirement that the property would be connected to the town's municipal sewer system by the end of the term of the lease with Ms. Distel."
For this reason, Diehl said, the expiration of the lease has never been of concern for the town.
"The town agreed to these terms because post-expiration of the lease, it was never our intention for this home to be occupied as a residence," he wrote. "The intent for the property has been and remains — for it to be featured as an historic working farm in a manner consistent with the town's vision and the vision of the former owner."
According to Diehl, plans for how town staff will take its next steps have begun.
Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn
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