JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House’s plan to sell a new state park could cost the state thousands of dollars in appraisal, auction and legal fees, according to state budget officials.
The Committee on Legislative Research Oversight Division also found that the potential proceeds from selling Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County would likely not go to the state’s general coffers either, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The money would need to be returned to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, according to the committee.
The Missouri House pushed two bills to the Senate that would require the state to auction off the 4,200 acres, which have remained closed since the land was purchased in 2016.
Missouri faces a lawsuit claiming an easement limits the land’s use to agricultural purposes.
Former Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration purchased the Eleven Point State Park land, along with several smaller parcels, with funds from a cleanup and bankruptcy settlement involving lead mining companies.
Nixon and supporters at the time argued that the mining settlement allowed the government to protect unaffected land. But opponents raised concerns that the state didn’t have the resources to care for the parks and historic sites it already was responsible for operating.
Missouri could now face legal challenges for any planned sale of the property since its deed requires it "to remain dedicated to public use as a state park," the committee’s nonpartisan analysis found.
The state could also be forced to pay auction fees as well as an updated appraisal totaling near $7,000, according to the committee. But the auction fees "would likely be passed on to the buyer," the committee said.
Republican Rep. Robert Ross said litigation would likely decide whether the state can receive proceeds from the land sale. Ross said he expects the question of whether the state can even legally sell the park to also end up in the courts.