Council, VFW reopen lease talks on Craig City Park | CraigDailyPress.com

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Council, VFW reopen lease talks on Craig City Park

In other action …

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

• Approved, 4-0, setting a public hearing for Feb. 28 to consider renewal of a conditional use permit for a 500-gallon propane station at 124 W. Fourth St., requested by B&B Welders.

• Awarded, 4-0, bids for 2012 chemicals from General Chemicals, LLC, Thatcher Chemical and Summit Labs.

• Approved, 4-0, Resolution No. 3 (2012) amending Article 14.2J of the City of Craig personnel policies manual.

• Heard month-end water and wastewater reports for December 2011.

— Council members Ray Beck, Joe Bird and Don Jones were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Craig City Council members sat down Tuesday with representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 to resume lease negotiations concerning Craig City Park.

As part of a list of seven possible deals, the VFW suggested the city begin paying $2,500 rent per month to ensure continued public access to the park.

After the meeting, Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said money has never changed hands between the two entities in the form of rent in more than 60 years.

Mark Wick, former VFW post commander, served as VFW spokesman at the meeting. Current commander David Walters, and VFW members Jim Meineke, Guy Bradshaw and Johnny Garcia joined him.

The VFW pitched the monthly payment idea because its membership decided during a recent meeting to no longer accept free water, sewer and trash services from the city.

"The days of free water and sewer are over," Wick said. "From now on, we pay our own way, but we need cash to continue services for our members, to pay for basic maintenance to our building, and we believe that park is worth something."

Council members were in general agreement the $2,500 price tag is high, but were mixed as to whether it would be appropriate to allocate taxpayer money toward rent regardless of the amount.

After discussion, council member Gene Bilodeau conceded that he and the rest of the council were not expecting the VFW to ask for monthly compensation and requested additional time to consider the proposal.

The two parties agreed to table the issue until after Feb. 14, the date of the next regularly scheduled council meeting.

Wick outlined the VFW's remaining lease considerations:

• The park will be named "Veteran's Memorial Park" and proper signage will be installed by the city within 30 days of the new lease.

• The city will maintain the grounds, cut and maintain the grass, and water the grass and plants.

• The city will install and maintain public restrooms.

• The park will not be used as a campground or RV park. No overnight parking will be allowed.

• When the VFW begins construction of the Medal of Honor Memorial, the city will assist with construction.

• Personal and property liability will be the concern of the city.

After the meeting, VFW members said they were pleased with progress made on the park.

"We fly under the radar and we don't need a pat on the back," Wick said. "All of the money we raise from our activities go right back into this community and that's the way it should be, but you gotta open the door before you can walk through it."

Council members were also encouraged by the meeting's outcome.

"It went pretty smooth," council member Byron Willems said. "Everything they asked for is pretty much what we have done in the past. We really just have one item to sort out."

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