Friday, July 22, 2016

City Council: 19-Jul-2016: Surplus of Property, Office Hours

2016-07-19 SoL 1

In total about 130 people attended the council meeting. Around a 100 attended to participate in the public hearing on whether or not the city should sell land to the east of the police and city hall buildings.

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Public Comment

  • None

Presentations

  • Open Meeting Law – Tim Merrill, City Attorney. Once a year the city attorney is required by law to review the state statutes relative to transparency, gifts, and conflict of interest. In sum the council can only meet in closed sessions to discuss impending legal issues, the purchase or sale of property, and personnel issues. Council members cannot accept any gifts of more than $50.00. Conflict of interests must be declared. They exist with there is there is a relationship with an individual or company where a council member receives a benefit of more than $2,000. Click here to see a copy of his handout.

CONSENT ITEMS

  1. MOTION: Approval of an amendment to the Beacon Hills Development Agreement – The amendment will extend the agreement until August 2024.. Click here for for additional info. Two of the ten (E & G) originally planned plats for Beacon Hills remain undeveloped. The developer has asked the city to extend the development date for the project until August 2024. Approved unanimously.
    2016-07-19 Beacn Hills Plats E and G

ACTION ITEMS

  1. PUBLIC HEARING / MOTION: Surplus of City Owned Property – The Council will be discussing whether or not to surplus 1.66 acres of property is located at 5386 West 10700 North. Prior to the public hearing staff explained that was initiated when a developer shared a plan for developing a 3 story 270 unit with retail on the first floor called Apple Creek (click here to review a presentation) and council was willing to consider the project. This hearing is part of the decision process related to that project. Staff also researched the land in question and could find no historical record indicated that this land had been dedicated specifically for the purpose of a public library. There were references to Civic purposes, including a community center which would include a performing arts center and library, a Sr. Citizen’s Center … .
    2016-07-19 Town Center Surplus
    I believe that prior to the meeting at least three of the council members (myself included) had already decided to vote no on selling the land. In the end we unanimously decided to not surplus the property. For me the following email to council members from 2-term mayor Jess Adamson sums up best why I voted no, as did all council members.

    Dear Mayor and City Council Members:

    I am unable to attend the public hearing scheduled for Tuesday July 19th, 2016 regarding the potential sale of property in the Town Square.  Please read my comments and attach them to the meeting minutes.

    In 1994 while serving on the Highland City Planning Commission I participated on the Highland City General Plan Committee.  Our charge was to create a vision for Highland by establishing the land use element of the General Plan.  The plan was formally adopted on September 26, 1995.  Chapter five of this visionary document addressed the future Town Center District.  In 1995 the Highland Town Center only existed on paper.  This fallow area consisting of a few residences but mainly unproductive open fields was destined to become the Town Center District—the Heart of our young community.  This property was set aside for future Civic, Retail and Business usage.  Since that time the civic uses such as the New City Hall, Police & Justice Center and Main Fire Station have been constructed.  Also retail and service uses have been established on set aside parcels.  This visionary plan has already been severely damaged with subsequent changes that resulted in adding Flex Zoning in this area allowing high density residential housing development to displace the original plan of civic, retail and service uses. 

    The parcel you are considering tonight is one of those areas that have been deemed important for future city use.  It was not set aside for any particular use but was reserved for a later time when a future civic need developed.  It is short sighted to dispose of this parcel now or at any time for a non-city related purpose.  Once this property is out from under city stewardship you lose all control and Highland City will certainly suffer in the future from lost opportunity.  Can you visualize what this Highland City Center would look like today if we had not honored the vision that was put into motion 21 years ago?  Most likely you would not be holding this hearing here in this structure tonight. 

    Please exercise patience and allow this parcel to remain under city control and stewardship.  I promise you that there will come a time that this land will serve an important role in our city.  Retaining this civic parcel is not a library issue…that is only one of many future possibilities. The issue at hand is that this parcel was set apart from other non civic uses because of its proximity to the “Heart" of our Civic Center.  Once more-- please retain control and stewardship of this parcel.

    Sincerely,

    Jess Adamson


    Note, connecting with council members prior to a meeting is usually the most effective means of influencing public opinion.  Click here for additional background info.

    Prior to the public hearing the library director shared the following presentation (click here). The primary points were (1) that Highland resident use the library (usage is up over 20% in the last 6 month), (2) our library is relatively small, and (3) there are lots of opportunities to increase programming in ways that would be meaningful to the community.
    2016-07-19 Library Sq Ft Stats
    * Please note the sq. ft. for Highland did not include the conference room, bathrooms or a storage room located outside the library area. I would probably have included the storage room, half the bathroom space and 2/3rds of the conference room so that it would have been more of an apples to apples comparison (If the library was in a stand alone building all of these would be included in the space). Even with these changes Highland’s sq. ft. per capita would still have been below the averages listed.

    I asked the library director what the requirements were to become a full member of the North Utah County Library Cooperative (we are currently a Jr. member). I then asked if we could meet the requirement in the current space. The response was it will be close. I then asked if we expanded in place (utilize some of the multi-purpose room) if we could qualify. The answer was yes. The library director also confirmed that the library will continue to exist with the potential for growth regardless of whether the land is sold or not.

    One item that came up during the Q&A with the library director was a request for a long-term plan with milestones. The library board chair agreed to have something ready for the council by the 1st council meeting in October. This was first discussed with the library board

    During the public hearing none of the residents advocated for selling the land. Most spoke in favor of library growth, some focused on value of the land, a couple added comments about the desire for recreational programs and others mentioned that the funds to build or expand the library should come from donations.

    A couple of interesting items that emerged from the hearing were that the Library Foundation has a total of $68,000 in funds and the Friends of the Library organization has been defunct for a number of years. It was also mentioned that there will shortly be two vacancies on the library board and that previously board member recommendations largely came from the pool of residents who regularly use the library. It was not clear as to how those vacancies were publicized to the community at large.

    Personal Opinion on “Save the Library” as a strategy.

    The campaign to encourage people to attend the public hearing using the slogan “Save the Library” worked in the sense that people did come. A similar meeting occurred over a year ago when we discussed eliminating the dedicated library property tax. Over 50 people attended to support the library. The tax was not eliminated, but where are we now. The library foundation still has no where near the  money needed to build a new building, the Friends of the Library organization is still defunct. We still don’t have long term goals with milestones. Bottom line people were recruited for a one-time event but not invited to be engaged over the long haul. Proverbs 29:18 seems relevant. “Where there is no vision the people perish.”

    Here are some thoughts on how it could be done better in the future.

    • Knowing (or hoping) that a large number of people interested in the library were coming a table could of been set up in the lobby highlighting how residents can help long term and soliciting input on what could be done better. If we had a long-term plan this could have been shared as well.

    • The pre-meeting message could have been help us ensure that we have enough space so that we serve the community by …. . This would have painted a vision and given residents something to get excited about.

    • The “Save the Library” or “Save our Future Library” created an unnecessary divide among residents. The implication being if you opposed the land sale you supported the library and if you supported the sale you opposed the library. Neither were necessarily true. There were lots of reasons to oppose the land sell and as mentioned previously the land was purchased and zoned for general governmental use not specifically for a library. The use could be anything from additional office space, parking, a performing arts center, a senior center and/or a library. If you supported the sale you might have reasoned that the proceeds from the sale plus the increased tax revenues from both property and sales tax could have supported expanding and maintaining the library.

    As a candidate I published a post on my campaign website in October of 2013 entitled “Yes … Let’s Save the Library”. In it I said the following:

    There is no question that the library provides a useful and valuable service. The question is, “what do we as residents want now and in the future.” Highland’s stand-alone library clearly needs to be expanded. There are one-time costs associated with an expansion, but there will also be increased annual operating costs.

    We need to have a discussion on how the library can benefit the community on a going-forward basis. The world is clearly changing and is much different than when we grew up. …

    There are a lot of issues that need to be discussed. However, informed discussions need to be backed with accurate information. Where can you go to today to find: library usage information, objectives for the library and how they are being met, a long-term plan? This information should be readily accessible to the public. …

    Discussions are the first step in this process. Let’s start a public dialog about the library. The net outcome will be positive. I’m not sure what the final answer will be, but I do know that many residents are interested in helping.

    The request for shared objectives and long-term plans is not new. However, for me the good news on the library is that we have a new director who is interested in understanding our needs, wants to better serve the community, has empowered library employees and volunteers to do so, and communicates regularly with the council. A difference has already been made plus as mentioned patronage is up by 20% already this year.

    Is there work to be done? Clearly. We need a long term vision with 5 and 10 year plans that can be used to help engage people. Will we get there? I am confident the new library leadership will get us there but it will take some time.

  2. PUBLIC HEARING / RESOLUTION / MOTION: Surplus and Disposal of City Owned Property – The Council will consider an offer by the Alpine School District to purchase 4.9 acres of property located between Knight Avenue and Lone Peak High School. The Alpine School District has offered $300,000 to purchase land owned by the city between the seminary building at LPHS and Knight Avenue as well as a narrow strip of land between Knight Ave and the baseball and football fields. ASD will use this land to create parking for the HS. Residents will also be able to use the parking when using the soccer fields north of the seminary building and the bike park west of Knight Ave. No one spoke at the public hearing (although one person applauded). There was little discussion and the motion was unanimously approved with a condition that the sales contract include language that would ensure that land remain a parking lot and not be used for buildings. Click here for additional background info.

    2016-07-19 Land Surplus LPHS

 

MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL & STAFF COMMUNICATION ITEMS

  • City Work Week. The mayor wanted to talk about having city services be available five days a week rather than four. The consensus among council members was that for public works the current work schedule made sense. Longer days allow for more projects to be completed and the reduce the restart time requirements that occur when projects span days. Public Works responds to emergency requests on 7x24 bases.

    There was also a consensus that more could be done to provide services to residents five days a week. The website could be enhanced to allow park pavilions to schedule online, the phone system could be better utilized to facilitate the transfer of garbage related calls to Republic Waste (a good share of the Friday calls are people asking about garbage not being picked up). In addition to these options, my personal preference would be to have staff provide options for having the office open on Friday so that we could understand the implications but there was no support for this. The good news is that in preparing for this discussion that staff came up with a number of actions that they could take to improve service to residents and have begun implementing them and they will continue to look for more. Well done staff!

STAFF AND COUNCIL ACTION ITEM LIST

Description

Requested by / Owner

Due Date

Status

Road Capital Improvement Plan for FY 15-16. Prioritize and Communicate to Residents

City Council

Aug 2016

Study underway

Election Policy City Council/
Jody Bates
Aug 2016 In progress
Council Policy and Procedures City Council
Jody
Aug 2016

In progress

Determine Park Use for Recreation

City Council
Parks Staff

2016

In progress

HW Bldg. – PW Storage Status

City Council
Mayor/PW

Ongoing

In progress

Options for Fire & Police Mayor  

 

Employee Pay Rate and Benefit Comparison Mayor & City Council Jan 2017 In progress

LINKS:

City Council Meetings where the Library was Discussed:

  • 5-Apr-2016 City Council: Library Re-Write (presentation on an upgrade to the library). 30 residents in attendance
  • 16-Jun-2015 City Council: Details on how costs will be allocated to library. 9 residents in attendance.
  • 19-May-2015 City Council: Agreed to allocate administrative costs and a charge for space to the library. 15 residents present.
  • 30-Mar-2015 City Council: Library Property Tax Discussion: 51 residents in attendance.
  • 21-Oct-2014 City Council: Brief library board report (discussion current status and metrics) with commitment to meet with the council in a separate work session for a more detailed discussion. 30 residents in attendance
  • 17-Jun-2014 City Council: Library board to meet with council to discuss long term goals within 3 months. 50 residents in attendance
  • 15-Apr-2014 City Council: Library Property Tax Discussion. 25 residents present.

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