The Montrose City Council left no question where it stands regarding a hotly debated issue Tuesday night. The council unanimously passed a resolution urging residents to approve a community recreation center in the April election.
The council added an addendum to its agenda Monday night containing a resolution that cited existing citizen support, positive economic impacts and benefits to the health of the community all made possible by a new recreation center. Each councilor offered personal comments before the resolution was approved and signed.
Councilor Kathy Ellis gave perhaps the strongest remarks by reading a prepared statement, which she said had kept her up all night Monday. As the council’s most conservative member, she said, she felt she owed an explanation for supporting a tax increase. The plan, including its financing and 0.3 percent sales tax, was better than the plan presented previously in measure “A” and warranted support, she explained.
Adding a personal example, Ellis equated the difference in sales tax, should the 0.3 percent raise be approved, to a fraction of the contents of a box of Junior Mints she had purchased on a recent grocery trip.
“If I can’t afford that, then I think there’s something wrong. I think there’s a lot of inflated discussion going on,” she said.
After delivering a bevy of supporting points to the discussion, Ellis concluded her statement by saying measure “B” would be the first, and likely the last, tax increase she would ever vote for. As her statement concluded, residents in the audience rose to their feet to applaud.
Councilor Bob Nicholson pulled no punches in naming the opposition, Curtis Robinson, and refuting Robinson’s points and practices. Nicholson went so far as to say Robinson had supported the recreation center initiative no less than six months ago, when Robinson approached the recreation district in talks of a Black Canyon Golf Course purchase.
“Mr. Robinson completely switched horses and is now opposed to the rec center. ... I do think it’s disingenuous, frankly.”
Councilor David Romero told the audience he had voted against measure “A” two years ago, but was a frequenter of the Delta and Gunnison recreation centers. He attributed his last vote to being “misinformed” on the issue, and pledged his support. Romero said he hopes to be a voice for community youth on the council and could not oppose this opportunity to provide recreational resources.
Councilor Carol McDermott said she hoped function would be the primary director of form if and when it comes time to construct a recreation center, but lent her support to the ballot issue. Mayor Judy Ann Files echoed the statements of her councilors, and said when sworn in to her position, she pledged an oath to the council’s motto — “Quality of life is our commitment.”
The councilors voted unanimously to pass the resolution and added their signatures to the documents. The resolution’s language states the council “urges the voters of the City of Montrose, CO to vote ‘yes’ regarding the ballot question, measure ‘B,’” to provide a new community recreation center and conversion of the existing facility into a field house.
Not all in attendance were in favor of the recreation center — city resident Becky Waugh spoke up during public comments to voice her opposition.
“I don’t enjoy doing this,” Waugh began, before questioning the district’s last minute change from a 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent tax initiative.
Waugh said she was also frustrated by the lack of detailed information available to the public, including financing terms.
“There are still numbers the public hasn’t heard,” she said.
Waugh also noted she was an independent opponent of the project, not affiliated with any other group.
In other city business, the council approved the issuance of a liquor license to Horsefly Brewing Co. of Montrose to serve alcohol at the Montrose Regional Airport, in the holding area for passengers who are past the security checkpoint and waiting for flights. Horsefly has been serving food and refreshments in the area, and petitioned to add beer and wine to their service.
Airport Director of Aviation Lloyd Arnold gave his support to the license, saying it was a service the airport needed. Council approved the license.
The council also passed multiple intergovernmental agreements with Colorado Department of Transportation to receive grant moneys and effectively move ahead on a plan to improve South Second Street in cooperation with All Points Transit.
A second issue with CDOT, a proposal to purchase seven-tenths of an acre of city property to replace the piping above Cerro Summit, was approved on first reading.
Documents from the meeting, including the council’s resolution in full, are available on the city website, www.cityofmontrose.com.