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Council Takes Steps to Help Eradicate Blight Downtown

 

The Lamar Redevelopment Authority is working to alleviate blight, generally known as Brownfield, in commercial areas of the city. The Authority approved an application for an EPA Brownfield assessment grant which will review environmental conditions of public or private properties.  The funds will be used to hire Ayres Associates which will conduct the study principally in the Urban Authority area.  The firm will inventory, characterize, assess and conduct planning and community involvement related to Brownfield sites, as well as exploring the costs involved for downtown economic revitalization.  The cost of preparing and submitting the proposal is $6,500 for which Ayres Associates will also provide management assistance in securing the grant.

Angie Cue, Community Development Director, said she’s found that some property owners are unsure of how to take the steps needed to conduct such a study on their own, adding, “This will give them the tools to identify the specific problems with their property and move forward with a plan.” The entire funding package is $300,000 and will be used to focus efforts to reduce threats to health, welfare and the environment.  Lamar City Administrator, John Sutherland, told the Authority, “This is not just another study that will be done and sit on a shelf.  I have three of those in my office right now.  This study will open the door to a continuing process that will translate to future action and will help develop community involvement and engage the downtown business owners.”  He added that the study is not mandated for a property owner, but if they will want future assistance on their property’s assessment, it will be a condition for using the completed proposal.

On a similar matter of property improvements, Sutherland noted there has been a considerable amount of roofing contractors in Lamar since the August hailstorm. He reminded the general public of the need for a building permit before any sizeable work was initiated.  “It’s a matter of safety and just a good idea, because if you have problems and the work is inspected by the codes department and you don’t have a permit, you could be subject to a fee which is double the price of the permit.”

Lamar City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea, informed the council that the total uncollected bills for Water and Sewer Services for 2016 amounted to $10,912, compared to $10,852 for 2015, which was half of one percent, on average. Uncollected bills for the Sanitation Fund for 2016 was $6,991 and $8,610 for 2015.

Total write offs, including electricity for 2016 was $83,286 and $94,493 for 2015. The City of Lamar will carry the uncollectible accounts as being written-off, although continued attempts to recoup those payments will not end.

The tavern liquor license for Desiree’s on East Beech Street was approved, but not before the council commented to her on some recent police action that has been required at her business, one for serving a minor and another for a fight which took place between two patrons. Councilman Kirk Crespin noted he had been contacted by one or two citizens concerned about these activities, including people leaving the front entrance carrying drinks in their hands.  He said it gave the impression that the place was not being properly controlled, “And it has the appearance of being a roadhouse.”  Mayor Roger Stagner asked Ellis if all her bartenders were TIPS certified and whether they had received that training locally or on-line.  TIPS stands for Training for Intervention Procedures.  Ellis said all but one of her employees had been through the course, but in the discussion it was pointed out that her two year certification had lapsed.  Mayor Stagner asked her for copies of certification for all her employees and with that provision the council approved the renewal.

Crespin, who is the Lamar Chamber of Commerce liaison, said the past Oktoberfest was discussed at the recent Chamber meeting over the enlarged beer garden. He said a citizen was concerned that youngsters could swipe an unattended bottle of beer from a table and drink from it.  He said the Chamber will take steps to police the area to make sure drinks are being supervised in the future.

The council voted to re-appoint Brenda Van Campen to another term on the Lamar Building Finance Corporation, expiring in 2026. The council also voted to re-appoint James Larrick to a five year term on the Water Board, expiring in 2021.

The city is updating its billing equipment, approving a lease/purchase agreement for a new inserter device to be used on monthly utility billing statements. The five year lease with Pitney-Bowes is for $18,747 which includes an annual maintenance program.  The original inserted was purchased in 2009 and is no longer working properly and has additional maintenance issues.

Susan Lathrop, Lamar Librarian, noted the Library Advisory Board has re-written all existing library policies, which include new ones. Many procedures were deemed unnecessary to the policy and were removed.  The council recommended the updates to the library policy as submitted.

Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller, informed the council that the department will donate unclaimed bicycles to those residents whose bikes were abandoned and never recovered over the past year. Miller said there have been 21 noted thefts in 2017 and the figure may actually be higher.  Usually any unclaimed bikes are sold at a public auction, however the Chief asked the council to contact theft victims and allow them to select a replacement bicycle.

The council approved the annual request for the police department to provide security for the annual Holiday Basketball Tournament which will be held December 15th and 16th.  The fees will be at $30 per hour per officer, not to exceed $720.

The council also approved the department’s request to apply for the Victim’s Assistance and Law Enforcement (VALE) Grant for 2018 through the District Attorney’s office. The funds, $14,155.84, will be used to provide “Victim Rights Act Notification”.  Last year’s request was for $12,806.  These funds help the police department offer support and notify crime victim citizens of their rights and to be aware of agencies that can assist in their needs.  Notification of the total grant amount will be made known in November.

Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Recreation Director, recommended to the council to extend the concession stand agreement for the community building with the Lamar Savage Booster Club for another year. The city receives 8% of the net income from the stand’s proceeds.  The contract was awarded.

Akers explained the Facilities Use Agreement for Gretchen Emick for use of the Aerobics’ Room at the Lamar Community Building until December 31, 2018. The contract is for 10% per month of the revenue collected by Emick.  This contract is identical for other rentals to two other Lamar residents for their exercise programs.

The city council adopted Resolution No. 17-10-02 in support of the reauthorization by the Colorado General Assembly of the Colorado Lottery Division in 2018. The approval will be forwarded to the Colorado Municipal League for support of the continued funding received by Colorado communities from the Colorado Lottery.  Since the enactment, the City of Lamar has received $2,278,328 from the GOCO Trust Fund for a variety of outdoor related projects.  The City received an additional $2.3M from the Conservation Trust Fund since 1983.  Rick Akers said the funding has put Lamar in the top ten percent of communities in the state for receiving these funds.

Administrator Sutherland reminded the council of several future activities including the monthly, informal breakfast, set for Lamar Community College, Wednesday, November 1st from 7 to 8am; DST comes to an end on Sunday, November 5th; Election is Tuesday, November 7th; the Farm-City Banquet will be held at 6:30pm, Friday, November 10th at the Lamar Community Building and city offices will be closed November 23-24 for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Because the Christmas holiday will correspond with the final city council meeting, the council selected December 27th as the alternative.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEducationEntertainmentEnvironmentFeaturedHealthHousingPublic SafetyRecreationTourismTransportationUtilities

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