Bozeman, land trust close deal for Peets Hill land

By Nora Shelly, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
January 21, 2021

It’s official: 12 acres off Bozeman’s iconic Peets Hill will be preserved as a city park.

The city and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust finalized the sale of a chunk of land at the southern end of the hill on Wednesday, according to the nonprofit. The announcement marks the end of a months-long campaign to raise both private and public money to buy the 12 acres, which are contiguous with the rest of the hill and host a trail connecting Burke Park with Church Street and Kagy Boulevard.

The 12 acres were listed for sale over the summer. The land trust jumped at the chance to preserve the land and submitted an offer to buy it for $1.23 million, which eventually was chosen after a previous offer fell through.

Then, GVLT started a public fundraising campaign, billing it as a chance to “protect Peets’ final piece.”

In a matter of weeks, hundreds of people donated to raise $800,000 to help with the sale. The land trust then turned to the city to ask for $485,000 to cover the rest of the costs and an additional $315,000 to be paid over the next two years to cover the cost of trail and land work planned for the parcel.

City commissioners in December unanimously approved the funds from the city’s cash-in-lieu of parkland fund, which gets its cash when developers pay the city rather than build the amount of parkland required under city code.

Mayor Cyndy Andrus said Thursday that no one at the city had any second thoughts about allocating the money for the sale.

“I think the commission believes it’s a really good investment of public dollars and I think that’s because it’s used by so many people and so many visitors,” Andrus said. “It’s such a great project and it’s such a good resource, and I just believe the timing was really good … as we’re growing it’s more difficult to acquire land so this was a very good opportunity for the community.”

Andrus also praised GVLT for getting the deal done. Chet Work, the organization’s executive director, said it was an “honor” to facilitate the deal.

GVLT and the city are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Burke Park. Work said they are hoping some of the hundreds of people who donated to the campaign turn out to celebrate.

Work said from the beginning, working with the sellers and the city went smoothly.

“I could have foreseen a lot of other difficulties but this was the right place, the right outcome, the community knew it, the landowners knew it, the city knew it and I think that made everyone a little more willing to deal with bumps in the road,” Work said.

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