Monticello considers private business proposals
by Eric Niven
Two economic expansion proposals were discussed at the July 11 meeting of the Monticello City Council.
Kevin Francom, owner of Monticello Mercantile, proposed the purchase of 12 acres of land in the Monticello Industrial Park.
Francom had previously negotiated the purchase of two acres at the park to establish a bulk products yard for mulch, decorative gravel, paving stones, etc. Until that land is surveyed, Francom has been paying on a lease-to-own basis.
Francom wished to add the additional twelve acres at a cost of $30,000 for both sections.
Francom claimed that because of easements crossing the land, and sections being unusable, the land isn’t desirable. However, he said that due to the nature of his business, he could make the land work.
The City Council seemed positive about selling the land, but the proposal bogged down on a request that the city bring potable water, including free hook ups. Francom said the water stipulation could make or break the deal. Francom proposes the City survey the parcels, obtain title insurance, and waive the water connection and meter fees.
Monticello City provides incentives to businesses that invest $100,000. Francom said he has exceeded that amount over the course of his ownership of the Merc.
City resident Lee Bennett, who owns land adjacent to the Industrial Park, expressed caution about future traffic access to the area. Bennett said that with the Port of Entry expansion, the shoulder on the entry road to the Industrial Park has been eliminated and will pose access problems as traffic increases to reach Francom’s land. She also cautioned about a gas line that crosses the parcel and questioned the water rights to a spring on the land.
Francom’s proposal was granted with a split decision by the Council.
A second proposal by Tyler Hall, of Artisan Jewelers, proposed that the city grant a concessionaire license for a business at the Monticello Millsite property.
Hall said that metal detecting is a growing tourist attraction. He said he is stockpiling and currently has up to $40,000 dollars of gold scrap that he intends to bury in the ground of the park!
He will then sell metal detecting permits and allow individuals to hunt for gold. Hall said he expects this to be a profitable venture and ten percent of all permit sales will go back into the park.
The agreement states that regular activities and use of the park will not be interrupted. City Attorney Walter Bird said he has no legal issues with the agreement.
Hall said that a concessionaire’s license from the city will allow him to seek grants to construct a facility and advertise the opportunity.
Hall requested that the city pay for utilities for the facility, once it is operational and pay one half of the insect abatement expenses.
Concerns were raised about whether the Department of Energy (DOE) would allow tourists to dig on the millsite. The DOE spent more than $250 million to clean up the millsite in the 1990s. Other questions include what traffic the project would create and whether there is a bird nesting area on the proposed site.
The Council is asking the DOE about the proposal. The Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure Committee (VMTE) submitted a letter of support to the proposal. If a letter is received from the DOE, the Council will consider this proposal again on July 25.
The annual report of the streets department was presented by Public Works Director Nathan Langston.
Langston outlined the projects and associated costs the department is tackling, with chip sealing and dust suppression the most expensive.
Langston said his biggest concern is the ability of the City to pay for future road maintenance. Mayor Tim Young said the streets are the best he has ever seen and thanked the Road Department for their work.
In the public comment section of the meeting, residents Matt Brooks asked whether he could ride his bike on the golf course paths during non-golfing hours.
Councilman George Rice said city tax payers pay for the Golf Course whether or not they play golf. Rice said use of the paths would be a benefit to non-golfers as long as the traffic doesn’t detract from golfers.
Mayor Young said the past difficulties regarding path usage were from kids riding bikes on the course and causing damage. Young said path traffic prior to 7:30 a.m. may be okay, but after 7 p.m., path users should check in at the Pro Shop. Young said the City will draft a formal policy.
Two Eagle Scout projects were accepted by the Council. Parker Walker will repair steps and Thomas Anderson will repair bathroom floors at the ball field.
Kim Halliday asked what is her responsibility regarding removal of a sidewalk. Langston said that if a resident removes a sidewalk, they must replace it.
Councilman Rice said Monticello Home and Auto has not yet paid a $1,700 bill for the parking lot repair in the past year. Langston said his crew is no longer purchasing supplies at the store.
Councilman Steve Duke recognized the service done by the Beautification Committee and local youth groups who spent time cleaning up the streets in the past week.
“This town was built on volunteers,” said Councilman Blaine Nebeker.