After years of speculation and months of negotiations, the Town of Neepawa has purchased the 'CN property' from Canadian National Railways. The land, which is located on Hwy. 5 near the junction of Hwy. 16, was purchased for $450,000 and titles for the property that spans about 42 acres in 17 separate parcels have officially been transferred from CN to the Town. “CN is very pleased that we were able to complete this transaction with the Town and we hope that this property can now be reintigrated in to the community and in to the town for the benefit of residents,” CN's Daniel Chan, who was present at the announcement last Monday night, said. The next step will now be looking at ways to develop the property. “We have, as a council, looked at and received proposals from planners to look at that piece of property,” Mayor Ken Waddell said. “The council and staff have looked extensively at things like a preliminary look at where roads should go and how the land should be utilized.” The Town is considering developing the property for highway commercial, commercial and possibly residential development. “We are looking at all housing proposals but this land is better used as commercial,” the Mayor explained. “(The CN property) gives us a chance to have significant commercial development which generates good assessment and therefore good tax income. We are open to all suggestions and there have been several confidential inquiries.” Restaurants, hotels and businesses are among those commercial properties the town would be open to. The Mayor also noted this property is one of several potential sites for a new firehall. Another possible suitor to develop on part of the land may be the Beautiful Plains School Division (BPSD) if it is granted a new middle school for Neepawa by the Provincial Government. In 2012, the BPSD's superintendent Jason Young said the CN property had the potential to be the home of the new middle school. Young did stress that was simply a 'possibility' and not something that was discussed in depth at that time. Regardless of what the property is used for, the Mayor said he hopes to see developments begin as soon as possible. “Personally, I am hoping for late 2013,” Waddell said. One of the small hurdles the Town has to clear before development can occur will have to be completed by CN. As part of the purchase agreement, the CN will be responsible for the process and costs of cleaning up an outstanding environmental issue on the property. Following that, developments can occur. Waddell and council invited Economic Development Officer Rick Donaldson – who is currently on a medical leave of absence - to the announcement last Monday in recognition of his efforts toward acquiring the property.