City, HPRA reach settlement on lease issue

The City of Yuma and High Plains Recreation Association have reached a settlement in regards to the situation in which the city leased some property to Smithfield that actually was part of HPRA’s leased property.

The Yuma City Council approved a settlement agreement during its regular meeting, last week, to pay HPRA $167,000. The agreement was signed by Mayor Ron Swehla and HPRA Board President Aaron Prior.
The council’s action came after meeting in executive session. Approval of the settlement agreement came on a 6-0 vote. All seven members were at last week’s meeting — Mayor Ron Swehla, Mayor Pro-tem Marc Shay, Terri Frame, Marylu Smith-Dischner, Jerome Benish, Tim McClung and Dan Baucke. However, Baucke abstained from participating in the executive session, and was not present for the vote on the settlement agreement. Baucke has abstained from participating in any discussion about the lease situation, explaining he is on the other side of the fence in regards to the dispute.
The council had approved in early May to pay HPRA $160,000, along with the stipulation that the recreation association take no further action. However, HPRA did not accept the offer.
The city and Hiplare have a 99-year lease for $1 for the property on which the Indian Hills Golf Course and Yuma Gun Club are located. It goes from April 7, 1971, to April 7, 2070.
Hiplare’s leased property also included several acres of what was unused land, directly east of Detroit Ave. (Highway 59) and north of the dirt road to the gun club.
Those 4.19 acres have been leased by the city to Smithfield since July 2, 2014, which is utilized as a corn storage facility for Smithfield’s feed mill located across Detroit Ave. to the west. The initial lease was to Murphy-Brown LLC, which is what the local Smithfield operation went by in 2014.

The lease outlines $20,000 annually to the city from Smithfield. The initial lease ended July 1, 2019, at which point it was renewed on a yearly basis through 2021, but has been inactive the last two years.
The eventual agreement reached last week included a long paragraph that essentially stipulates HPRA take no further action against the city in regards to this matter.
Language in the agreement also notes the city denies liability, and with this agreement intends to avoid the cost of litigation and potential damages.
As for the property in question, High Plains Recreation now has a lease with Smithfield this year.
Prior told the Pioneer that the HPRA Board will be drafting a comment in regards to the settlement with the city, but it would not be prior to this week’s deadline.