By Michael Howell
In early February, the Ravalli County Commissioners agreed unanimously to transfer the title to the property known as Waincrest Park to the Town of Darby. The county received correspondence from the town expressing a desire to annex and gain title to the park located on Mill Street.
Deputy County Attorney Howard Recht told the commissioners that the parcel originated as park land dedication as part of a subdivision in 1979. He said since then the county has held title to the land which was dedicated to public use. He said that current law allows the county to trade or sell the land to the town or to gift it to the town provided it is used as a park or a cemetery.
Recht noted that the county had not made any improvements to the property, although the city of Darby has.
John Ormiston, who sits on the Ravalli County Park Board, said that the County’s Master Park Plan shows it as a county park.
“But it is clearly in Darby and they use it as a park,” said Ormiston. He said the town had built a picnic shelter and installed some horseshoe pits and was constructing a public trail near the park. The town has also put in a swing set and a fire pit and makes toilets available in the summer.
The Commission approved transferring the title to the Town of Darby on the condition that the town pay the cost of the title transfer.
The Town also expressed interest in annexing the Lone Pine Cemetery into the Town limits but was concerned that it might affect the funding that it receives from the county to maintain and operate the cemetery.
Deputy County Attorney Recht told the commissioners that the laws dealing with cemeteries had changed over the years and that if the property was annexed into the Town and the Town held title to the property that the county’s funding could be jeopardized. He said current law would require the cemetery to be part of a cemetery district.
Darby Town Clerk and Treasurer Nancy McKinney said that, based on the county’s response, the Town was moving forward with the title transfer for Waincrest Park and its annexation. She said the annexation of the Lone Pine Cemetery was on hold as the Council looks into the requirements for establishing a park district.