Lamar Moves Forward with Housing Project

South View from South 8th Street



The Lamar City Council received an update on the workforce housing program which will construct 60 new houses for essential workers in six southeastern Colorado communities.  During the October 25th meeting, John Fulton, representative for Southern Colorado Economic Development District, said these are pre-sold homes which will be made available first, to those considered to be essential employees and any remaining homes will be available on the open market.  Specific design plans have been released and price points will be set up going into early November.

Lamar’s land and funding contribution consists of 14 parcels, located at 8th Street and Savage Avenue.  Five of the parcels will be purchased by SECED for single-family homes and nine will remain with Carrigan Excavating for future construction.  The council approved an invoice for its contribution to the project to SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development.  The funds will be used for the purchase of property for development in Lamar.  SECED Executive Director, Stephanie Gonzales, told the council they will have the option to list the houses for sale to the public on an open market or allow businesses to purchase the properties which would then be rented to their employees.  She said this will be the only time Lamar will be asked to make a financial contribution to this first phase of the project.

The council decided to move the building located on city property at the intersection of Anderson and North Main Streets.  The city recently purchased the land from WHO Manufacturing which is now being sold to an investor.  The council decided to re-purpose the structure on another parcel of city-owned land near the Six Mile water towers south of Lamar.  Chief Building Inspector, Craig Brooks, told the council that the building can be shared by the city’s public works and recreation departments for equipment storage and the cost of moving would be less than buying and building a new structure.  City crews will provide the groundwork and the teardown and transportation of the building will be put out to formal bid.  Mayor Crespin said the sale closing on the property should take from three to four months to finalize.

Craig Brooks will also act as the Chief Building Inspector for Springfield as that community does not have a Building Department.  The council approved the contract which will use Brooks on an on-call situation, specifically for the construction of a new Cobblestone Hotel for that community.

Roger Stagner and Doug Thrall spoke in opposition to the passage of the ballot questions allowing the legal sale of recreational and medical marijuana in the City of Lamar during the public address portion of the meeting.  Stagner stated the sales tax revenue figures, offered by lobbyist Cindy Sovine during last week’s public forum on the ballot, were over-inflated.  “What will happen to our community when the gold rush is over and neighboring states allow the sale of marijuana as well,” he asked, adding that Oklahoma has now legalized it.  Stagner’s summary said overall, it won’t be the lasting benefit we hope it could be.  Doug Thrall has been opposed to legalization for some time, adding that Lamar would gain more by promoting itself as a community that is marijuana-free in hopes of attracting more like-minded businesses to the town.  Matt Biszak, employed by the County Health Department, provided statistics from the Healthy Kids Colorado organization on recent studies that indicated that students in middle schools were more prone to marijuana use at an earlier age than their high school counterparts.  Biszak stated that as a Prowers County employee, he would not take a stance on the ballot, but only provide documented information from state studies.

Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller, received the go-ahead from the council to apply for the yearly Victim’s Assistance and Law Enforcement (VALE) grant for 2022.  The funds are used to provide Victim Rights Act notification to crime victims.  The grant request for 2022 is $16,666.  The previous year, the grant funding was $15,384, the full amount of the request.  The council also approved an upgraded internet service from SECOM for the police department’s annex offices.  The new agreement, with a new addendum for the change, will save $190 per month while improving internet speed.

City Public Works Director, Pat Mason, received approval from the council for a memorandum of agreement for the Prowers County Risk Mapping Assessment and Planning project, Phase II Data Development.  The Colorado Water Conservation Board, Federal Emergency Management Agency and their contractor, Michael Baker are working on the update.  The preliminary assessment concerned the levee systems in Holly, Lamar and Granada to determine their condition and suitability for certification.  Mason said the study could take from three to four years and the findings would have an impact on insurance coverage for those buildings located in a flood plain.

Several new fees for 2022 for City of Lamar services were discussed including Building and Development, Police Department and Library, but no action was taken by the council at this time.  The new fees cover use for the new picnic shelters installed at North Gateway Park, rental of roll-off containers subject to weight charges and charges for using the copier at the Lamar Library.  There was considerable discussion on a proper fee to be enacted when the city would mow or clean a property that had often been cited for code violations.  Mayor Kirk Crespin noted that having the city provide the mowing took business away from commercial operations and these tasks directed city employees away from their regularly assigned duties.  City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea, said she will develop a cost analysis of hourly pay scales and use of time and materials to provide the council with additional information on a proper fee schedule.

The council and Prowers County agreed to a renewal of the contract agreement for ambulance services provided by the city for service in areas of the county not covered by the Holly Ambulance Service.  The 2021 contract calls for the county to pay the City of Lamar $120,000 for ambulance and EMT service.  The fee remains the same for 2022, but there is an option to renew for an additional year at the end of 2022.

City Attorney, Lance Clark, will revise a response letter from the city to Prowers Medical Center.  The hospital informed the council that covid mandates regulating vaccination and related health histories for contract workers coming into contact with medical facilities need to be reported to PMC.  The council discussed how to best clarify that city employees, mostly ambulance and EMTs personnel are service providers and not contracted labor.  Mayor Crespin said the patients and not the hospital receives the bill for those services and it may not be necessary for any of them to enter the hospital facility.  The council was united as they felt employee privacy was paramount.  Clark is revising the response language for council’s review.

Lamar City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea, informed the board the annual write-offs for delinquent accounts for municipal services, including water, sewer and electricity was $52,715.57.  This is a yearly bookkeeping event and the accounts are turned over to a collection agency.

Water restrictions in Lamar are being modified.  The Stage One restriction which had been in effect since April, 2019, restricted use of water between 11am and 6pm every day of the year.  The new modification, approved by the council, restricts water use between 11am and 6pm from May 1 to September 30 each year.

A request by Patricia McBroom for extra-territorial water service for a single-family residence on CRHH was approved by the council.  The new water meter will be installed on an existing water line that extends along West Maple Street and CRHH.

The council approved a request from Lamar Community College to place a storage unit on city land, just north of LCC.  The property has been used for overflow parking by the college and will not hinder access to the electrical substation.  The college will maintain the property in exchange for the unit’s location.

The council went into executive session on personnel matters, regarding the evaluation of the City Treasurer.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of HollyCity of LamarCollegeConsumer IssuesCountyCOVID-19EconomyEducationElectionsEmploymentEntertainmentEnvironmentFeaturedHealthHousingLaw EnforcementPoliticsPublic SafetyRecreationTransportationUtilitiesWaterYouth

About the Author: