Purchase photos

Pavilion gets partial city approval





Even though Hays city commissioners voted Thursday night to provide site preparation and a restroom for a downtown pavilion, project supporters likely will be jumping through a few hoops before the project goes further.

Brought before commissioners by members of Downtown Hays Development Corp. at a September work session, the pavilion, proposed to be located near 10th and Main streets near Union Pacific Park, is estimated to cost $576,534. City staff has estimated annual maintenance of the facility, a cost proposed to be incurred by the city, to be $6,000.

Commissioners voted 4-1 for the city to provide site preparation services for the proposed structure not to exceed $176,534 and provide a restroom not to exceed $75,000. The agreement is subject to the project's approval by Union Pacific Railroad and an agreement between DHDC and the city of Hays regarding ongoing annual maintenance costs of the structure.

Commissioner Barbara Wasinger asked DHDC Executive Director Traci Konrade and board member Michele Flax if they had discussed with their board the idea of DHDC putting aside a portion of future fundraising dollars toward maintenance of the pavilion.

Although Flax and Konrade both said the DHDC board had not discussed a maintenance agreement with their board, Konrade said it would be a topic at their next meeting.

Konrade said there are several "hoops that we still have to jump through."

"Obviously, we have to approve it with the railroad and things like that long term," she said. "This is kind of like the horse before the cart, we have to be able to get the project started to see if it can be carried out."

Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV, who said he agreed with the need for an enclosed shelter in the park area, said he was troubled by the idea the city would provide a cash contribution to the project without input on the project's bidding process.

When originally submitted to the city, DHDC's plan for the pavilion did not include the project be overseen by city staff. At last week's work session, it was agreed that if the project proceeded, city staff would provide project oversight.

"Actually, (DHDC) changed their stance in the request last week," said Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno. "They asked city staff to actually bid the project ... provide project management of the facility as well.

"And I believe the donor would submit the funds to the city."

Flax reminded commissioners half the project would be paid by an anonymous donation, contingent upon city support of in-kind and cash contributions.

"So if we cannot garner city funds, there is a great possibility that our $200,000 to $250,000 will go away," she said.

A suggestion to table the vote came from Wasinger.

"I would have liked to start yesterday, believe me," she said. "But rushing through it doesn't make any sense when you can make everybody feel comfortable with what they're doing."

Commissioner Ron Mellick, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he could see pitfalls in the city owning a building that will be used for weddings, receptions and business meetings.

"The city, I don't believe, should be owning and operating this," he said. "I believe the DHDC should be owning and operating this.

"It's still going to cost the city money to take care of this, and those costs are only going to grow. I don't believe we should get into private enterprise."

In other business, commissioners:

* Voted 4-1 to authorize an additional $20,325 from city commission financial policy projects toward turf replacement at Larks Park. Commissioners voted June 28 to authorize a cost-share with Fort Hays State University not to exceed $150,000. Due to bids exceeding estimates, FHSU requested the city commit an additional $20,325 to split the exceeded bids.

* Approved a resolution accepting the replat of Golden Belt 8th Addition.

* Approved a pre-annexation agreement allowing owners of the property at 2807 U.S. Highway 183 Alternate to connect one commercial structure to the city's sanitary sewer system.

* Voted to authorize the vacating of an alley in the Reservation Addition.