City Council ends negotiations with VFW

In other action ...

During its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 6-0, a special events permit for the Grand Olde West Days committee for a beer concession May 27 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

• Approved, 6-0, a special events permit for the Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrotheads for a May 28 beer garden at the Craig city parking lot at 400 Yampa Ave., as part of Grand Olde West Days.

• Awarded bids totaling $71,043.30 to purchase two trucks, two flatbeds, and one walk behind, self-propelled concrete flat saw for various city departments.

• Awarded a $112,000 bid to Norvell Construction, LLC, for sandblasting and repainting of interior surfaces of the west portable water tank.

— Council member Jennifer Riley was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Following more than a year of failed discussions, the Craig City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to end lease negotiations with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265.

The two groups had been participating in workshops and exchanging letters in an effort to come to an agreement on lease terms for Craig City Park.

The latest volley of letters included an option for the city to acquire the park through eminent domain.

The VFW responded Friday with a letter outlining terms for a lease that its membership would be agreeable to, including a monthly rental payment of $1,000 and a lease term of five years.

“I don’t like the thought of acquiring the park through eminent domain, but I also don’t like the terms of the latest lease,” council member Joe Bird said. “I think it’s time to agree to disagree and allow them to do what they want with their land. I truly wish them luck.”

Although most council members were uncomfortable with the idea of acquiring the park through legal action, council member Byron Willems said he believes the VFW has left the city with few options.

“Even in the latest paperwork they sent us it clearly states that the Women’s Civic Improvement Club donated the land for the purpose of always remaining a park,” Willems said. “Eminent domain may receive scorn in the eyes of the public, but it’s just a tool in our toolbox and this may be the right time and place for it.”

Willems cited past discussions that led him to believe the VFW does not possess the financial resources to maintain the park on its own. He questioned whether walking away was simply delaying the inevitable action of acquiring the park through eminent domain.

But, whether the VFW can maintain the park was a moot point for council member Don Jones.

“I’m not going to make a judgment call based on something they can or cannot do,” Jones said. “Not until we’ve given them the opportunity to try.”

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