Recreation District Land Purchase Challenged

Several Big Horn area residents charged Sheridan County Recreation District 1 board members of illegally borrowing money to buy land for a proposed community center.

Accusations came during the board's meeting Thursday night. The district, whose members are appointed by Sheridan County School District 1, borrowed $300,000 to buy land just south of the Big Horn Y, at the junction of highways 335 and 87.

The residents at Thursday's meeting said Wyoming statute doesn't allow appointed board to incur debt, and that the recreation district overstepped its authority. One of the residents, Laurie E. Morris, also accused board members of conducting the land purchase in secret.

Recreation board members including Chairman Chad Aksamit said they didn't believe they had broken any laws. The chairman said state law doesn't say borrowing money to buy land is legal, but denied that the law prohibits such action.

The land was bought for a proposed Big Horn Community Center, but the board appeared divided Thursday on whether to proceed with an application for a conditional use permit that would allow the structure. Board member Zack Cummins said he didn't think the board has enough support from the community of Big Horn to proceed with plans for the facility. The board is scheduled to meet with Sheridan County commissioners on Tuesday. A motion to proceed with that meeting passed on a 3-2 vote, with Aksamit and Cummins voting against the proposal.

Cummins said he would feel better about the project if he saw more support from Big Horn residents. Board member Carla Dunham said she knew of a lot of parents in the community who want the facility.

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