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Push for Main Street program in Central City

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City Council discusses Main Street, new loan, and CEDA

By David Josselyn

The Central City Council and staff met for a regular council meeting on Tuesday, November 18, 2014. All members of Council were present along with City Clerk Reba Bechtel, Public Services Director Shawn Griffith, City Manager Daniel Miera, Finance Director Shannon Flowers, Police Chief Terry Krelle, Fire Chief Gary Allen, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, and Alderman Elect Judy Laratta. The meeting was called to order at 7:02 pm following a budget work session.

Consent Agenda

The first item of business was approving the consent agenda which included the regular bill lists for November 6 and 13; and the City Council minutes of November 4. Alderman Gloria Gaines moved to approve the Council minutes and was seconded by Alderman Shirley Voorhies and Alderman Bob Spain simultaneously. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

The Council opened the floor to the public for addressing any issue on the evening’s agenda. Barbara Thielemann addressed the Council regarding the Main Street Program. “I am very much in support of it and if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them,” stated Thielemann.

Viva L’Opera!

Valerie Hamlin, Director of Marketing for the Central City Opera, presented the Central City Opera Sponsorship report to the Council. Hamlin outlined the achievements and activities of the Opera for the 2014 season and thanked the City for their sponsorship. Hamlin stated that attendance increased over the 2013 season by 20 percent and their production of Dead Man Walking was very successful. The Opera will be combining Central City Days with the Boomer Bus in 2015 in conjunction with their production of La Traviata. The Opera will also be doing three one-act productions next season both in Central City and around Colorado. Mayor Engels confirmed that there would be only one performance in Central City so get your tickets early. Alderman Gaines commented that Dead Man Walking was the “best thing I’ve seen at the Opera” in eight years of attending their shows.

Maintaining Main Street

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 14-18 which would establish a steering committee to study the benefits and requirements associated with re-establishing city support for a Main Street program. The study would look at the potential future of the program and conduct an in-depth analysis of its history and current feasibility. The Colorado Main Street program supports the revitalization of traditional downtown districts within the context of historical preservation and can provide resources, training and technical services. Central City previously committed to the support of a local Main Street program in 2003, but the program folded a few years after its inception. Miera states that there is a renewed interest in the program from members of the community. The steering committee will consist of five members that represent the City Council, the City Planning Commission, the Business Improvement District, the City Community Development staff, and an At-Large community member.

Mayor Engels asked how members would be recruited. Manager Miera replied that they would request submissions of interest in a similar manner to recruiting members of the Planning Commission. Resolution 14-18 was moved to approve by Alderman Kathy Heider and seconded by Alderman Spain. The Resolution passed unanimously.

New Debt

Finance Director Flowers introduced Resolution 14-19 which would authorize the City to enter into a loan with Colorado State Infrastructure Bank for capital improvements. This is a State of Colorado backed loan that must be used for transportation purposes. This loan would cover expenses incurred by the Central City Parkway rockslide and also future projects with the Nevada Street rock wall, storm water improvements, and additional improvements for the Parkway. The Nevada Street rock wall has the potential to create a rock slide and needs to be addressed before any future calamity occurs. These projects have been delayed due to lack of funding; however, the longer they are delayed, the more likely the cost to the City will increase significantly. The Parkway rock slide cost to the City is $630,000 and the other projects would add another $900,000 in expense. The proposed loan would be payable over the next ten years. Approval of the loan application would not be given until the middle of 2015.

Alderman Gaines asked what the interest rate would be and Flowers responded that she learned just today it would be 4.5 percent. Alderman Voorhies asked if there is an early repayment penalty and Flowers responded that there is not. Mayor Engels clarified that there are no TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) related issues. Alderman Voorhies asked if the loan could be sold. Manager Miera responded that they are not sure. It is a State backed loan so it isn’t likely, but he will check and get an answer for Council. Alderman Gaines asked where the payments would be coming from in the budget. Manager Miera replied that they would be coming from the capital improvements fund, but may be supplemented from the general fund when necessary. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve Resolution 14-19 and was seconded by Alderman Spain. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Proposed Amendment by CEDA to short-term loan

Manager Miera presented the proposed amendment to a loan granted to CEDA for the Council’s consideration. The Council had discussed the amendment and their response previously during a work session. Brad Snedeker and Robert Fejeran were in attendance to represent the Cultural and Economic Development Association. Mayor Engels addressed Snedeker and asked him to walk through the amended changes from CEDA also saying, “You are in default and have asked for a modification of the loan.” Snedeker interrupted saying, “I would like to correct that statement,” and that “it is my right to make a correction.” Snedeker argued that since there the loan was not signed by CEDA, it could not be in default. Manager Daniel Miera responded stating that at the April 1st Council Meeting, an oral agreement was made for the city and a private donor to pay CEDA $12,000 and $7,000 would be repayable within three months of the event (Jazz Festival). A check was cut and subsequently cashed by CEDA which in effect is agreement to the terms of the loan. The proposed amendment from CEDA would change the nature of the original agreement and extend repayment to July of 2015. City Staff prepared a counter agreement. “There is no signed agreement,” stated Miera,” which is part of the problem that they have failed to follow through.” Snedeker asked if the Council was ready to accept the terms of the agreement. Mayor Engels asked Snedeker to once again answer his question and go through the changes proposed by CEDA. Snedeker responded that it was “just as the Manager said,” the repayment would be extended. Mayor Engels responded, “You are glossing over the fact that there is a repayment reduction of $4,000.” The terms of the amendment were repayment of $3,000 by July 15 at which time interest would accrue at 6 percent. Robert Fejeran, founder of CEDA, explained that the original agreement directed that a portion of the loan proceeds were to pay for start-up costs and marketing, and a portion toward the Jazz Festival event itself. Monies spent prior to the event and unrelated to the event would not have to be repaid, but only monies spent directly for the event. Mayor Engels stated that there are “clearly two very different opinions of what occurred during the April 1st meeting.” The Mayor directed the Council to let CEDA know if they are interested in continuing forward with the amended agreement or to offer a counter-proposal. Alderman Heider stated that one of the options discussed was for forgiveness of the loan on the condition that CEDA disband. Snedeker stated that CEDA will take all recommendations and consider them. Mayor Engels stated that CEDA’s relationship with the City is broken; CEDA’s relationship with the non-profits in the City is broken, and they find it difficult to understand how CEDA can contribute to the cultural and economic development of the City. Alderman Gaines asked if they could get the names of those who are on CEDA’s board. Snedeker responded that they “can supply that information at the appropriate time.” Alderman Gaines replied that CEDA has been asked for the names on their board multiple times and can’t understand why they have not been more forthcoming. The Council stated that CEDA can either accept the terms of the City’s counter-proposal, or they can forgive the loan on the condition that CEDA disbands. Council directed Staff to have the papers drawn up and delivered by this Thursday, November 20. Snedeker stated that CEDA will have a response within 21 days of receipt of those terms.

Staff Updates and Council Comments

Manager Daniel Miera informed Council that activity reports are in their packets and they will stand for any questions. Alderman Heider asked what PPLP stands for in the Manager’s report. Miera stated it is the Pilot Property Lease Program. Mayor Engels noted that the lights are on the Parkway and asked if the work was done. Public Services Director Griffith responded that there was a little bit of cleanup to do, but the work is done. Alderman Gaines asked about the Xcel project status. Griffith responded that the end of month target date was a best case scenario and the utility company is not optimistic about meeting that goal. The main part of Eureka Street should be done by the 30th, but there is still work to be done on Prosser Street.

Alderman Voorhies announced the return of the Tommyknockers Bazaar. There will be a kids parade on Thursday, December 4 around 1:30, then the lighting of the Christmas Tree on Friday evening at 6:30 followed by caroling to the Teller House and potluck while being serenaded by the Peak to Peak Choir; finally the bazaar itself on Saturday, December 7. Mayor Engels thanked Shirley Voorhies and Barbara Thielemann for all the work they put into the bazaar.

Mayor Engels publicly congratulated Judy Laratta on her appointment as Central City Councilperson to replace Bob Spain at the end of his term.

Public Forum

The Council opened up the floor to the public for comment on any issues. No one chose to address the council at this time.

Next Meeting

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 for an executive session. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, December 2, for the next regular council meeting.

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