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Council Approves Grant Application to Aid Downtown Business Growth

Lamar Amtrak Depot

Lamar Amtrak Depot

An agreement between the City of Lamar and BNSF Railroad was approved to allow the city to replace aging water distribution and stormwater collections systems under the train tracks on Main Street. This will be required as part of the CDOT US Highway 287 Reconstruction Project scheduled to begin its first phase of upgrades this summer.  In alignment with that project, the city has applied for the CDOT TAP Grant, (Transportation Alternative Program) which will help finance streetscape work in Lamar’s core downtown business district.

Various suggestions and price estimates were displayed earlier in the month by representatives of studioINSITE who were hired through the DOLA Main Street Program.  The council reviewed their concepts during the Monday night council meeting, May 23rd, and provided feedback and cost estimates to help guide further development.  The concepts developed from StudioINSITE have been planned to be implemented after the final phase of main street construction has been completed.

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The council approved a $160,000 grant application which would help fund a consumer spending analysis and retail recruitment for development of marketing strategies. Essentially, the study recommends those types of businesses which would be more apt to locate in a community with an economic profile similar to Lamar.  From that information, local representatives would use a list of identified retailers who are more closely aligned to our market and shopping preferences.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, explained, “We’ll receive $110,000 from federal sources, the state will contribute $35,000 in a separate grant application and Lamar’s contribution will be $15,000 towards the study.”

In action similar to an event earlier this year, the council approved a request from the FAA for a loan of the Lamar Airport Improvement Program Entitlements for 2016 for $28,000 for the Archuleta County Airport. This loan would allow that community to finish a project.  The loan from Lamar will be repaid in 2017 when the local municipal airport plans to make use of the funds.  Pat Mason, Lamar Public Works Director, said, “Six weeks ago, we loaned $150,000 in this manner to Archuleta County, so they must be involved in a development project for these needed funds.”  He added that the FAA is guaranteeing that Lamar will be repaid in full for the two loans, stating that the city has been banking these grants for the past three years and by the fourth year, will have enough funding to begin some major upgrades to the Lamar Municipal Airport.

Lamar Librarian, Sarah McDonnell, outlined a proposal to replace the defective sensor gate at the entrance to the library. Only one of the two sides works, she explained, and recommended a replacement which will cost $12, 355 which is less than another bid, but that one would require expensive changes in software and is not compatible with current equipment.  In the long run, the lower priced gate would be more expensive.

The first reading of an ordinance was approved by the city which, at the recommendation of local funeral directors, the regulation of the materials used in burial vaults to correspond to the new level of standards in the industry. Rick Akers, Parks and Recreation and Cemeteries Director, told the council that the department has been experiencing a growing problem of soil subsidence in grave sites where vaults constructed of “alternate materials” have been used.  The ordinance explained that some materials for vaults such as fiberglass, steel or wood could not provide durable or long-lasting stability to protect the casket.  The new section of the ordinance calls for an industry-standard, concrete cement burial vault which will be approved by the City’s Cemetery Director.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life Committee had a proclamation read by the council recognizing and supporting the annual event which will be held June 4th at Savage Stadium in Lamar. Lamar was proclaimed a “Relay for Life City” and the week of May 29th through June 4th was designated “Relay for Life Week” in the combined effort in the community to fight against cancer.

The council, at the request of the Colorado Firefighter Heart and Circulatory Benefits Trust, updated its membership and designated Bert Davis, Human Resources Manager, as the CFH Trust Member Representative and Fire Chief Jeremy Burkhart as the alternate member. In another designation update, Davis was appointed as the Primary Contact and Alternate Voting Member of CIRSA and Utilities Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh as the Primary Voting Member to CIRSA, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency.  The council approved the recommendation of Richard Petrin to fill the remainder of a five year term on the Lamar Airport Board.  Richard Wollert resigned his position earlier in the month.

Doug Harbour from the 9/11 First Responder and Tribute Foundation addressed the Lamar City Council on the latest development for the September 10th schedule, those outside parties or organizations that have planned to attend the annual parade as well as an update on the newly selected location for the 9/11 Memorial display, now set to be built at the Big Timbers Museum.

Administrator Sutherland reminded the audience that city offices will be closed on Monday, May 30th for Memorial Day and reviewed the calendar of local events for June including the informal council breakfast, set for Wednesday, June 1st, from 7 to 8am at Daylight Donut on Main Street; a town hall meeting, sponsored by SECED will be held at 6pm that evening at the LCC Large Lecture Hall to discuss economic, business and community development; the annual Relay for Life event will be held Saturday, June 4th at Savage Stadium; a city council work session will be held at 6pm on Monday, June 6th; SECCI, the Southeast Colorado Cancer Initiative will hold their annual golf tournament on Saturday, June 11 at Spreading Antlers Golf Course.  Councilman Oscar Riley gave Lamar Police Chief Kyle Miller a $300 donation from the Lamar Elks Lodge to help create a police-oriented Explorer Post for Lamar.

By Russ Baldwin

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