Mayor John Gates
Public input began with Bill Gillard. Gillard had asked a question at City Council’s last meeting and was back for more clarification. The concern Gillard had last meeting was with money from the Quality of Life Tax being used to fix up public schools’ sports fields. At the time, City Manager Roy Otto explained to Gillard that the City used the tax money to pay for renovations to schools’ sports fields in a deal that would allow the City use of some of these fields and facilities. In addition, this deal would also give the City the right to open up certain other fields and facilities to the public on a limited basis.
Tonight, Gillard was still wondering how residents might access the fields and facilities funded with Quality of Life Tax money that are gated.
Otto answered Gillard this night as well. Otto again explained that certain fields and facilities paid for with the Quality of Life Tax are considered City facilities, just as, for instance, the community sports park next to the Fun Plex is considered a City facility. And, just like with the community sports park by the Fun Plex, some facilities funded with Quality of Life Tax money are open to the public in different ways than a typical public park might be. Sometimes City-funded fields and facilities, such as Butch Butler Field or the sports park near the Fun Plex, are hosting events, or closed for security or maintenance or for any other purpose. Not being able to access these fields and facilities 24/7 does not discount them as public parks, just as Bittersweet Park being off-limits for a day to host an event does not disqualify it as being a public park. As Otto himself said, “there [are] different ways that all types of these facilities are open and used through either recreational sports or the public as a whole.” When a field or facility is not locked up, Otto clarified, residents are free to use it as long as it is not hosting another event or off-limits for any other reason. As for those that are locked up, Otto assured Gillard that the public is able to request scheduled use of these facilities much like lanes at a bowling alley may be reserved for a party.
The second and final resident to give input this night was Timothy Logie. (As a matter of discretion, Tim is a close friend and co-worker.) Logie, who delivers pizza, said he feels extremely unsafe on the roads in Greeley due to a high number of aggressive driving incidents he either witnesses or is indirectly involved in while on the job. While Logie indicated that his respect for Greeley Police and the job they have is unwavering, he did point out his belief that insufficient traffic enforcement has led to the majority of conditions that now leave him feeling afraid on Greeley roads. (On a personal note, Tim told me afterwards that he felt the experience of attending a city council meeting was truly life altering. He says he plans to return to city council meetings in the future and that this was a first step for him in becoming more politically informed and engaged.)
Reports from Mayor and Councilmembers
Councilmember Casseday was first to share. Casseday talked about being at the August 16th meeting of the Downtown Development Authority (this meeting occurs the 3rd Thursday of each month at Chase Tower, 822 7th Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room, at 7:00 a.m.). At the meeting, Casseday said he learned a property had recently been sold and another sale was pending, leaving only two downtown properties left for sale. “I think,” Casseday said, “that is indicative of how the area is thriving.”
Maintaining this downtown theme to his report, Casseday spoke of Greeley’s downtown events, mentioning Friday Fest and the annual Monster Day events that were held last week. According to Casseday, attendance at the Monster Day event was up 300-400%.
Also on that same day, Casseday said he and Councilmember Payton attended the Greeley-Weld County Airport Authority meeting (this meeting occurs the 3rd Thursday of each month at the Greeley-Weld Airport, 600 Airport Road, at 3:30pm). At this meeting, Casseday said, there was a lot of debate on whether or not a sky diving club would be allowed. Casseday said that this discussion was put aside until the next Greeley-Weld County Airport Authority meeting. Otherwise, Casseday wished to report that many new hangers are in construction and that “our little airport is growing.”
Casseday said he also participated in the 2018 Greeley Chamber of Commerce’s Ag Tour last Friday. The councilmember has been an advocate for and a recurring guest on this annual tour for quite a while now, leading him to state, “I’ve been on that tour more times than I ever thought I would be, but it never gets old.” Casseday strongly encouraged residents to participate in future Ag Tours, driving home the point that “we are an [agriculture] community; our Ag people surround our town [and] are a significant part of not only our history, but our commerce and economy.” The tour, Casseday said, provides a great opportunity to learn about the agriculture community and what’s new and occurring in agriculture.
The last report from Councilmember Casseday was that he’d attended one of Councilmember Suniga’s City Chats. Casseday said, “that meeting was pretty significant” and “a few things came out of that meeting that I was asked to follow up on.”
Mayor Gates brought up his attendance at the quarterly refugee meeting that took place last week. Gates said Assistant City Manager II Becky Safarik was also there along with many others from the City. Of the meeting, Gates said, “it was my first one, and frankly, I’m glad I went because there was a lot of information disseminated that helped me . . . with regard to numbers of refugees, where they’re going, where they’re staying, etc.” The Mayor said he plans on attending as many of these meetings as possible in the future.
The Mayor said he also was at an event on Friday morning where Sunrise Health was presented with a rather impressive award. Councilmember Michael Fitzsimmons was in attendance as well. Sunrise Health, Gates said, “is certainly a gem in our community and has served a lot of people that otherwise perhaps would not be serviced.” Look for more in the next Council meeting’s “What’s Great about Greeley” presentation, the Mayor added.
Next, Mayor Gates touched on a briefing he’d received from newly-hired Municipal Court Judge Mark Gonzales (Greeley City Council is in charge of hiring and firing the head municipal court judge). The municipal court judge is responsible for providing direct reports to City Council, and Gates spoke of this report being given over lunch with the judge yesterday. Based on discussions had during the course of this meeting, Gates reported to Council that “things seem to be going exceptionally well at municipal court.” Gates said on August 27th municipal court will be moving out of the temporary modular it’s been in for the last year and into a permanent residence in the newly built City Center building on the 1000 block of 11th Avenue.
Lastly, Gates brought up a letter he’d received from the mayor of Greeley’s sister city, Moriya, Japan (learn more about Greeley’s Sister City Program, here). The Mayor said he chose to read the letter to Council because it “epitomizes that both cities seem to be doing the right thing with regard to our youth.” In the letter, Moriya Mayor Nagahisa Matsumaru described how much the student exchange program the cities have engaged in since 1993 has meant to Moriya citizens who participate. Gates read, “[d]uring these 25 years, several of Moriya’s students who went to Greeley in their teenage years [have] made use of their experiences, taking up studies abroad or entering positions in international business companies.” The Moriya Mayor said this was the 16th exchange conducted between the cities since 1993, and Mayor Gates took a second to thank Councilmember Robb Casseday for being a host family for a number of those years.
In closing, Gates read from the Moriya Mayor’s letter, “Greeley citizens are always welcome in Moriya, Japan, and I am eagerly awaiting their visit.”
Petitions from Mayor and Councilmembers
Councilmember Jon Smail asked that the City look into the concern he hears most from residents: health and safety issues relating to the homeless population downtown. “I know this is a really sensitive and difficult subject to talk about,” Smail made clear, but his feeling was that health and safety issues downtown have reached the point that they must be dealt with sooner rather than later. Smail’s ward covers downtown, and so businesses and residents in this area look to Smail for direct representation on matters such as this (find a map of each councilmembers’ ward here). Smail talked about seeing “what the City can do to better protect the private and public investment downtown,” as concerns he hears often touch on a belief that people feel “intimidated” away from visiting downtown. Because businesses downtown face many challenges those out west in newer parts of the city do not, Smail pointed out, and because currently the City is trying to develop and further improve downtown, there are incentives for the City to acknowledge and act on these particular business’ concerns. Smail closed by saying he wished to request information about what Greeley has tried in the past in regards to similar complaints as well as what other communities are doing about such issues.
The rest of Council said they’d be okay with approving Smail’s petition to learn more.
Mayor Gates referenced Weld Way’s Home, a report written by Weld County United Way, and suggested councilmembers read it as well. The Mayor then turned to City Manager Roy Otto to verify that the City would produce the information Smail was requesting.
Otto responded, “we will work forward on getting a report back to Council.”
Council approved an Intergovernmental Agreement for wildland deployment resource sharing. The agreement is between the City of Greeley, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Poudre Fire Authority, Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District, Berthoud Fire Protection District, Front Range Fire Protection District and Platte Valley Fire Protection District.
Council authorized the City of Greeley to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation for the acceptance of Highway 263/East 8th Street.
Council authorized the Mayor to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between the Greeley Police Department and the Weld County Sheriff’s Office regarding distribution of joint funding provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Council authorized the assignment of a private activity bond allocation of the City of Greeley to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.
Council authorized the City Attorney to initiate appropriate legal action against Aggregate Industries--WCR, INC., to recover damages caused to City property at 5207 F Street.
A date was set for a public hearing and final reading on the decision whether or not to place on the November election ballot the question of authorizing the City Council to extendto December 31, 2042, for specified purposes, the 0.30% Sales and Use Tax rate that will expire on December 31, 2022. The public hearing and final reading was set for the next Greeley City Council meeting, September 4, 2018.
A date was set for a public hearing and final reading on the decision whether or not to place on the November election ballot the question of authorizing the City Council to extendto December 31, 2044, for specified purposes, the 0.16% Sales and Use Tax rate that will expire December 31, 2024. The public hearing and final reading was set for the next Greeley City Council meeting, September 4, 2018.
A date was set for a public hearing and final reading on the decision whether or not to allow a delegation of City officials to use, with restrictions, no more than $45 million of the City’s Water Revenue Bonds for the purpose of financing improvements, betterments, extensions and expansions of the City’s water system. The public hearing and final reading was set for the next Greeley City Council meeting, September 4, 2018.
A date was set for a public hearing and final reading on the decision whether or not to authorize the Issuance and sale by the City Of Greeley of first-lien Sewer Improvement Revenue Bonds, with restrictions, in an amount not to exceed $12 million for the purpose of financing the cost of additions and improvements to the sewer system. The public hearing and final reading was set for the next Greeley City Council meeting, September 4, 2018.
All of the above items on tonight’s consent agenda were approved by a 7-0 vote.
Public Hearing/Final Reading
Water & Sewer Director Burt Knight stood at the podium to speak on this first matter. A document was in question concerning the sale of City-owned property. There “was an error in the legal description,” Knight said. “It was caught by the title service.”
Mayor Gates asked if Council had any questions for Knight. No one had any.
Public input was then opened. No one spoke. Public input was closed.
Vote passed 7-0.
Water & Sewer Director Burt Knight was at the podium again, this time with a short presentation. Knight showed the development layout for plans to install sanitary sewer lines in north Greeley. This sanitary sewer line would connect with a previously built line that runs underneath the Weld County complex. The desire of Water & Sewer is to see that a new sanitary sewer line is connected to the previously built line (portion 2A) in order to carry wastewater from businesses and homes throughout all areas north of the Poudre River back to the wastewater treatment plant off East 8thStreet and Highway 85. This plan, which will be referred to as the North Greeley Sanitary Sewer Service Area once finished, is still in development and the next process is to install the new sanitary sewer lines (portion 2B).
Knight stated that the City is “in a position to buy some easements and we’d like to get those done before any development were to occur along there.” In order to construct the 2B portion of sanitary sewer lines the City will need to purchase property from current private property owners. (If unable to agree with current property owners on the purchase of their property the City would still be allowed to take the property for what’s found to be fair market value. This process is what’s known as the exercise of eminent domain.) Knight’s presentation highlighted the five properties in question as well as the names of the property owners. Knight made clear that negotiations with the property owners had not yet begun. In order to begin negotiations Water & Sewer would need Council’s approval, which is what brought the director to Council tonight.
Water & Sewer does not believe they will have any issues with the property owners. But, as Knight pointed out, the procedure being undertaken tonight is necessary because if the City were to end up in court with one of the property owners, all required processes will have been covered.
Mayor Gates then opened the floor to public input.
Bill Gillard stepped to the podium. “I have a question” Gillard said. “[Has Greeley] ever used eminent domain to acquire property? And do we have safeguards that we don’t overuse it?” Gillard said he lived in California for some time where eminent domain was used to construct a “high-speed train to nowhere.” Gillard’s worries were with the protection of personal property and the Greeley government’s ability to take it from private owners.
Gates informed Gillard that the City has used it in the past. The Mayor then asked City Attorney Doug Marek if he’d like to provide any input.
Marek told Gillard that “the safeguards that are incorporated into the city’s procedure include these public hearings where there’s an explanation of the exact project.” This explanation is to include, according to Marek, what the public purpose of the property would be used for and a description of the properties in question. “I would estimate,” Marek assured Gillard, “90-95% [of] property owners reach an acceptable agreement with the City.”
No one else took the opportunity to speak, so the Mayor closed the public input portion of the hearing.
Mayor Gates asked if any councilmembers desired further discussion. No councilmembers did, and so motion was made to take vote.
Authorization on the matter was given by a 7-0 vote.
The final hearing of the night again involved Water & Sewer Director Burt Knight. The issue was with the City needing to give final approval to transfer three units of water to the City of Louisville. This deal, Knight said, was part of a 1994 Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Louisville. The agreement involved selling water from the Windy Gap Reservoir to Louisville in order to help finance the reservoir. Knight hinted at the possibility of this deal being a bit of a mistake to have entered into, stating, “if we could have probably changed that we would have changed that.” Greeley Water & Sewer, Knight said, tried to find an alternate to having to sell this water but could not.
Time was then turned back over to the Mayor who asked if councilmembers had any questions for Knight.
Councilmember Suniga had a question. Suniga wondered if there are any more old contracts around that might see the City having to part with water units in the future.
Knight responded that there were no more like this.
No additional questions remained from Council.
Mayor Gates then opened the hearing to public input. No one wished to speak during this time and public input was closed.
Vote was then taken. The ordinance was approved by a 7-0 vote.
Newest Board and Commission Members
The Council appointed members to the following boards and commissions:
Commission on Disabilities—1 member
Historic Preservation Commission—1 member
Housing Authority—1 member; 1 open vacancy on board remains
Judicial Review Board—1 member
Golf Board—2 members
Human Relations Commission—1 member
Planning Commission—1 member