It has been in the works for months, but Walden's Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously signed a lease agreement between the town and the McCoy Board at the recent town hall meeting. The agreement will give the McCoy Board significantly more autonomy in decision making when it comes to the property.
"Self-sufficiency was definitely the goal," Vice Mayor Thom Peterson said in a followup interview. "Once the nonprofit is established, the lease will enable more robust fundraising ventures and the streamlining of repair processes."
Prior to the lease signing, if an appliance or pipe broke in the house that sits on the McCoy property, for example, the McCoy Board had to go through the town for a bidding process to find the most fiscally responsible contractor for the repairs, a process that Peterson said can take up to eight weeks.
After the McCoy Board achieves nonprofit status, with the new lease, they will be able to use funds at their own discretion. Officials from both the town and the McCoy Board said they expect that to significantly expedite decision-making for the property.
"We're excited; I know this is something that the group has wanted for a long time," Mayor Bill Trohanis said in a separate interview. "We're looking forward to making it [the McCoy property] a successful venue for the citizens of Walden."
Under the new lease, the McCoy Board does not have to get approval from the town for holding events at the property, assuming the events are within reason for the property. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen stressed that as long as the McCoy Board uses common sense when scheduling events, there wouldn't be any issues.
The only thing the lease doesn't address is the house on the McCoy property, which both sides said will be discussed at a later date.
The McCoy Board already has long-term plans for what they want to bring to the property and the town. Board Chairman Mickey Robbins said they're looking into establishing an arboretum and a park and recreation area on the property.
The group is also planning for the second annual Memorial Day Picnic, slated for May 30.
"We had over 800 people last year, and we're looking to grow that," Robbins said following the meeting. "We're delighted to have the authority and opportunity to develop and restore the property fully."
He added that both he and the town are extremely grateful to the assistance provided by volunteers to restore the property and build a foundation of environmental stewardship. Those interested in helping out can visit the board's website at mccoywalden.org.