VIDEO: Salida City Council Considers Sackett Avenue Property Transfer, Part Two
At the January 22 City Council meeting, Salida City administrator Dara MacDonald and City attorney Karl Hanlon had recommended to the Council that they postpone their decision on the proposed “gift” of certain Sackett Avenue property to the state agency known as Colorado Parks & Wildlife, and it appeared that the Council would likely follow that advice. But the meeting had been publicized as a “public hearing” — as required by law at the second reading of any City ordinance — and thus had attracted a large number of interested citizens. Mayor Don Stephens made the decision to open up the meeting to public comment.
Yesterday, in Part One, we heard the suggestion from local business owner Wade Veazey that — rather than give away City-owned land, without a vote of the people — the City instead purchase the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) buildings at 307 Sackett Avenue. This would allow the City to maintain control of the property, and to determine the best use for those centrally located office buildings, going forward, Veazey suggested.
The rest of the public speakers urged the Council to place the proposed property transfer to a public vote, as appears to be required by Colorado law:
(1) The governing body of each municipality has the power:
(a) To sell and dispose of waterworks, ditches, gasworks, geothermal systems, solar systems, electric light works, or other public utilities, public buildings, real property used or held for park purposes, or any other real property used or held for any governmental purpose. Before any such sale is made, the question of said sale and the terms and consideration thereof shall be submitted at a regular or special election and approved in the manner provided for authorization of bonded indebtedness by section 31-15-302(1) (d).
The City attorney, Karl Hanlon, had advised the Council that this statute did not apply to the Sackett Street property because, according to his reading of the law, the wording “any government purpose” should be understood to mean “any municipal buildings.” He had advised the Council that they could legally dispose of the land without putting the matter to a public vote.
At the January 22 meeting, only one public citizen spoke in favor of the transferring the property without a vote of the people — downtown business owner Bob Grether. The other speakers pleaded with the Council to place the issue before the City voters.
At the conclusion of the public testimony, each Council members was given a chance to explain his own position on the ongoing NRC (Natural Resource Center) project at Vandaveer, the controversial NRCDC (Natural Resource Center Development Corporation) and the proposed Sackett property transfer.
Council member Keith Baker, who serves as one of the four NRCDC board members — along with Council member Tom Yerkey, City administrator Dara MacDonald, and business owner Tim Glenn — summed up his position at the conclusion of the discussion:
“We just want to see the people do what we want to do. If this [Natural Resource Center] doesn’t go through, it’ll break my heart. And I’ll tell you that right now; it’ll break my heart.”
With that, the Council voted 6-0 to postpone the final decision on the proposed Sackett Avenue property transfer — Ordinance 2013-1 — until its February 5 Council meeting.
On Monday, January 28, two members of the NRCDC made a public presentation at the Salida SteamPlant, and then welcomed audience questions and comments.