Redevelopment Board Approves Beech Street Property Purchase

Two lots off East Beech Street across from Lamar Chamber Offices

Two lots off East Beech Street across from Lamar Chamber Offices

The Lamar City Council, meeting as the Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board on Monday, March 24, discussed the merits of purchasing the vacant lots in downtown Lamar that adjoin the City’s existing municipal parking lot on the north and abuts Beech Street on the lot’s south edge.  Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street Coordinator, and City Administrator, John Sutherland, explained that the property meets the city’s need for additional parking and provides space for seasonal street fairs.  The two lots have been offered by owner, PJ Wilson for $30,000, plus a one time interest fee of $1,000.  Wilson will finance the purchase for three years allowing the Redevelopment Authority Board to minimize cash impact in any one year.  Wilson said he’s owned the lots for about four years and is basically selling them for cost.  Each lot measures 50 by 150 feet.  The Board authorized the purchase with some language modifications needed in the contract for the inclusion of a non-appropriation clause.  Hodge said any development plans for the property will have to take CDOT’s future plans for Main Street improvements into consideration. 

View of Property Looking West

View of Property Looking West

Prior to the regular council meeting, Lamar Community College President, John Marrin, presented the council with an update on college activities, specifically plans to secure local in-kind donations to help finance construction of the first of several residence halls at the college.  Marrin said the construction of the first 14 unit hall will initiate a “new era” of development at LCC.   Marrin is hoping to secure in-kind donations from both the city and the county to help provide infrastructure development for the hall which will house 28 students.  The LCC president said the additional students will help sustain a growing tuition base for the college, while providing increased revenue for the city with more local retail purchases from the new students.  He estimated the cost of the residence hall at just under one million dollars.  “The in-kind contributions from the city and county can help free up our cash flow on the project,” he explained.  Mayor Roger Stagner recommended a joint meeting with all interested parties, including department heads for a review of current and future city projects.

A public hearing was conducted to discuss the annual request from Jay Gruber, owner of the Buzzard’s Roost, for a temporary modification of his premise at 101 North Main Street in Lamar.  Gruber hosts the Country Jam on June 14-15 each year, as well as the Road Jam on September 13-14.  A portion of the street is fenced off for the annual music festivals.  The council passed the request, but stipulated that the second event would be predicated on an absence of alcohol related problems during the Country Jam.  Gruber said that some newer employees had not taken TIP training which provides guidelines to help prevent alcohol over-indulgence and screen underage drinkers.  “There hasn’t been any local training programs that I know of,” he said, but added that there are on-line training sites he’ll track down and use and report his progress to the council.  Lamar Police Chief, Gary McCrea said his department hasn’t had any problems from the past Jams held at the Roost.  Gruber said the outdoor music ends at midnight when the bands move indoors and neighbors have always been alerted to the annual performances.

A second public hearing was held regarding the renewal of the franchise agreement between the City of Lamar and Charter Communications.  The current agreement with Cablevision will expire September 13 of this year.  The original ten year agreement was made between the city and Bresnan Communications which expired in 2009 and was replaced with a five year agreement.  During that period, Bresnan sold to Cablevision Systems which, in turn, sold to Charter.  Charter was represented by Eric Rasmussen, Senior Manager of Governmental Relations, who outlined some statistics about the company.  “We have close to 79,000 subscribers in the state and employ 550 workers in Colorado,” he explained.  Rasmussen said Lamar has 1,700 customers and the company pays the City of Lamar an annual franchise fee of $80,000.  He explained that Charter is updating to an all digital format with increased High Definition capabilities for its customers.   He noted the problems with the Super Bowl signal, in which programming was interrupted for about 11 hours this past winter.  “The problem originated in Pueblo and was due to a frozen line from one of our providers,” he stated to the council.  He added that Charter was prepared for problems on that day as they made arrangements to secure a back up line for service for the game.  Administrator Sutherland said that the city needs to develop a negotiation agreement with Charter which will be presented to the council before the contract expires. 

Mike Bryant, Prowers Medical Center Foundation Director, presented the council with a feasibility study which will aid the hospital in developing financing sources for a $10 million renovation project to remodel several of its departments.  The study, Bryant explained, will help determine if a Capital Campaign is feasible and how much funding it would generate.  The Foundation is also seeking a list of about 80 citizens who can provide information about the community for the company conducting the study.  Bryant asked council members for their input in developing a list of persons for the one-on-one information profile.  One group will answer written questions and the other will take part in a confidential hour-long interview.   

The council approved a new, five year term for Cameron Rogers on the Airport Advisory Board, expiring in 2019.  Tim Courkamp was appointed for a five year term on the Planning and Zoning Commission, expiring in 2019.  Chris Henderson was re-appointed to a five year term on the Water Advisory Board and Kelli Gaines and Blake Carere were re-appointed to three year terms, expiring in 2017, on the Lamar Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.  Mikki Cartright was approved for her re-appointment to the Lamar Library Board for a five year term.

The council approved the lease agreement for a Canon copier through Gobins in a state contract  for $139.31 a month and approved a similar agreement for a copier for the library for a five year term for $76.10 a month, a savings from the current $126.40 a month agreement.  The annual Relay for Life fund raising event will be held again this year in June at Savage Stadium; the council approved an ordinance waiving the curfew and noise ordinance for the June 7 event.   Relay for Life began in Lamar in 2006. Organizer Sherri Kerr said, “We’re now in a rebuilding process this year and looking at some new ways of doing things.” Kerr said eleven teams have been signed to take part in the Relay and more are welcome.  “If we only have eleven, that’s what we’ll go with,” and added that a new events coordinator from the American Cancer Society has brought some new ideas to the annual event, which should make it a lot of fun and hopefully contribute to donations.

Giada Nieschburg and Payson Coen Hold their Winning Entries

Nieschburg and Payson Hold their Winning Entries

Giada Nieschburg, Payson Coen and Mia Zubia are the three elementary student winners of the “Why I Love My Library” poster contest.  Nieschburg and Coen attend Alta Vista Charger School as kindergarten and  1st graders, respectively and Zubia is a second grader at Washington Elementary. Lamar Librarian said the high school yearbook committee served as this year’s judges.  Each winner will receive $15 in Luv Bucks and some other prizes as their award.  Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook introduced Derek Burns, a 26 year veteran, as the department’s new Fire Engineer.  Burns served in Arizona and in Colorado and brings HazMat, Wildland firefighting and EMS experience to the department, Cook said.  He added that the paid department and volunteers are now at full staff.  Administrator Sutherland reminded the audience and council that the monthly breakfast meeting will be held at Rancher’s Restaurant on April 2 at 7am, the Library’s Spring Book sale will run April 6-9, a sunrise service will be held at North Gateway Park at 6am on April 20 and the city’s Spring Clean Up Day is April 26 from 7am to 4pm.

By Russ Baldwin

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