County lots

Teton County commissioners agreed Tuesday to pay $3.8 million for two .17-acre lots on East Simpson Avenue.

County commissioners sealed the deal Tuesday on the purchase of $3.8 million worth of land directly east of Teton County’s administrative hub.

The Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to sign closing documents for the two .17-acre lots after splitting 3-2 in September over whether to sign an initial agreement to purchase the property.

Commissioner Greg Epstein, who originally opposed the purchase, moved the agreement to sign closing documents off commissioners’ consent agenda — a vehicle for approving a number of items unanimously and without discussion — to put it “on the record.”

He asked if there could still be a split vote on the purchase. Chief Deputy County Attorney Keith Gingery didn’t answer the question directly, but said the agenda item Monday was geared toward authorizing Commission Chairwoman Natalia D. Macker to affix her signature to the closing documents.

Gingery pointed out that commissioners had agreed in their Monday voucher meeting to approve a $3.8 million payment for the property.

Commissioner Mark Barron also opposed the purchase initially. But he joined Epstein and the rest of the board in voting to sign closing documents Tuesday.

“I intend to vote for this,” he said. “Clearly, I voted against the purchase but the majority won and we need to sign the documents.”

Commissioners Luther Propst and Mark Newcomb, along with Macker, voted in favor of the purchase in September, with Propst and Newcomb describing the buy as a “prudent long-term investment.”

{div class=”subscriber-only”}The county hasn’t decided how it will use the lots, but Macker, Propst and Newcomb saw the land then as an opportunity for employee housing, child care and a possible expansion of county offices — if or when that’s needed.

Commissioners Barron and Epstein opposed the purchase, worried that the price was too high and that it wasn’t the best use of county funds.

At the time, realtors acknowledged that the price was expensive. But they said the cost was in line with Jackson Hole’s real estate market — and that it’s difficult in Teton County, where prices generally trend up, to time the market.

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Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Billy Arnold has covered government and policy since January 2020, sitting through hours of Teton County meetings so readers don't have to. He moonlights as a ski reporter, helps with pandemic coverage and sneaks away to climb when he can.

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