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Land deal to create Lien family park

Land deal to create Lien family park

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RAPID CITY - City officials were quick to praise the Lien family's civic-mindedness after Wednesday's M Hill auction in which 40 acres were secured for city park land.

"The outcome today is enormously positive, and we have the Lien family to thank for their generosity," Alderwoman Karen Gunderson Olson said. "I think the memory of Chuck Lien and his wonderful family will be forever enshrined in the history of our city."

Nine Liens Partnership agreed to donate 40 acres of land to the city and auction the remaining 330 acres. Twenty acres were donated for free; the city will buy the other 20 acres for $160,000. The new parkland will be named Chuck Lien Family Park.

Alderman Michael Schumacher said the past week has been "a roller coaster" for the city council as it tried to find a way to preserve some of the property. He said those efforts would have been futile without an offer Tuesday by the Lien family.

"I really want to make sure the public knows the Liens are the ones who came forward with that deal at the end. Without that, I don't think we could have done anything," he said.

The city had been working with a private foundation to secure the M Hill hillside, possibly by using some of about $1.7 million available in federal transportation funds.

But Schumacher said accessing those funds was a more complex process than first believed. Instead, the city considered using about $600,000 from 2012 money that had been outlined for parks, but the private foundation declined the city's offer.

Schumacher said that eliminated all options for the city until the Liens offered the 40 acres, with conditions.

Gunderson Olson said the complexity of the auction and the numerous entities involved in the family partnership presented the challenge to get all groups to agree on possible options.

Gunderson Olson envisions the city will use the 40 acres in somewhat the same way the Skyline Drive wilderness area is used.

"Its uses will be hiking, bicycling, walking and jogging. It will be an open space that people will be able to enjoy," she said. "I believe in 25 years or 50 years that the people of Rapid City will be gratified to know that that open space is there for everyone to enjoy. Parks are so democratic: Everyone can go and enjoy them."

Schumacher said the buyers of the rest of the M Hill land, the Simpson family, also are a community-minded family and that it will be wonderful if they agree to preserve even more of the land as park space.

The city council has scheduled a special meeting Friday morning to sign a purchase agreement for the land.

Contact Scott Aust at 394-8415 or scott.aust@rapidcityjournal.com

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