An 83-year-old woman moved a step closer to keeping her summer home inside Rocky Mountain National Park on Wednesday when a U.S. Senate committee approved a deal that would provide her with a lifetime lease on the cabin.
The National Park Service wanted to evict Betty Dick when her lease expired July 16, but after the intervention of two U.S. senators and a congressman, a compromise appears near.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill that essentially extends Dick’s lease, allowing her to rent the cabin and eight surrounding acres for $300 a year for the rest of her life.
Under her previous lease, Dick got the cabin and 23 acres for $300 a year.
The bill must still be approved by the full Senate. A similar bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), has passed the House.
Dick’s late husband, Fred, negotiated the previous lease after a legal battle with the park service.
His first wife got the property in their divorce and sold it to the park service, but he sued, saying he had the right of first refusal.
In a settlement, Fred Dick agreed to pay the government $7,500, and the park service agreed to lease him the 23 acres and cabin. Betty Dick has said the original agreement was a lifetime lease, but the final contract said 25 years.
Betty Dick, who also has a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., did not have a listed number in Colorado. No one answered at her Scottsdale number.
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who sponsored the Senate version, said he was pleased with Wednesday’s committee vote.
Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) said the park service faces 186 similar disputes in 29 locations. He said he planned to introduce legislation setting up a process to settle them without resorting to “private legislation” such as the bill resolving the Colorado case.
Allard endorsed the bill’s latest version Wednesday, calling in a “win-win” for Dick and park visitors.