The cash strapped City of Walsenburg may be on the brink of a huge economic deal, that would bring in $1.3 million for the sale of 330 acres owned by the City. Not everyone is on board with the sale because the land would be used for marijuana grow houses.
Denver land developer, Martra Holdings, is working with Walsenburg to purchase the land. The company said it's a kind of industrial park never seen before, one built to grow marijuana. The land sits on the outskirts of town off of highway 10 and Interstate 25, and would be a huge sale for the small city.
Walsenburg has about 3,000 in it and is known for it's beauty, mountain views and quiet streets.
"The area around us, it's gorgeous. This is where I want to retire," said Walsenburg native, Karina Sierra.
It's not known for its economic growth.
"The county, the city are some of the poorest in the state," said Walsenburg City Councilman, Nick Vigil.
Karina said she herself has had a tough time finding jobs here.
"Ever since I can remember there's always been a struggle for jobs here," she said.
As she finished up her shift at the 7th Street Deli on Tuesday, Sierra said she sees opportunity in the land sale.
"At this point we're so at a loss for what needs to be done here then, why not?" Sierra said.
For Sierra, it doesn't matter that it's marijuana that would grow the economy.
"I don't see a problem with it, Colorado's a legal state," she explained.
But not everyone thinks like Sierra, and the City knows that some people will take issue with the pot plants and the green houses.
"I've heard mixed reactions, I think people understand instead of raising taxes this is a better way to make some income," said Vigil.
The 330 acres won't be one giant marijuana grow operation. Martra said it plans to build about 100 green houses on the property and then rent them out to various businesses.
All of those green houses mean they'll need to buy a lot of water from the City. When it's fully built out, the company estimates it will need about 60,000 gallons of water a day.
"It could really help our water and sewer funds and we have aging infrastructure," Vigil said of the water purchases.
While the sale and plans are in the very early stages, people like Sierra say it gives them hope for the struggling city.
"I would love to see Walsenburg flourish and get bigger and more jobs and more businesses. I was born and raised here so I would want the best for here," she said.
The Walsenburg City Council is meeting Tuesday night and it could finalize the contract for the land sale at that meeting. After that, there's a 60 day closing period to work out all of the aspects of the deal, specifically how the water will be purchased. Walsenburg and Huerfano County attorneys are looking into the water rights and if it will be considered agriculture water use.