City Council Minutes

Thursday, February 9,2006

FEBRUARY 9, 2006, 4:00 P.M.

Mayor Daniel McArthur
Council Member Suzanne Allen
Council Member Rod Orton
Council Member Bob Whatcott
Council Member Gail Bunker
Council Member Larry Gardner
City Manager Gary Esplin
City Attorney Shawn Guzman
City Recorder Gay Cragun

Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and welcomed all present. The pledge of allegiance was led by Scout Brendan Fuller, and Mayor McArthur offered the invocation.

Consider approval of a resolution in opposition to SB170.

Council Member Allen explained that Senate Bill 170 is a land use and development bill which takes zoning power away from cities. The sponsor, Senator Mansell, said he had not even read it and is not supporting it. There will be a substitute bill.

City Manager Gary Esplin explained that the substitute bill contains four provisions, two of which establish a reasonable time line for development approvals, and a requirement that impact fees be tracked with regard to costs. It looks like the substitute bill may be passed.

Council Member Allen advised that SB170 originally had 11 sponsors, however, all but one have pulled their names from the bill and do not want to be identified with it.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that the Utah League of Cities and Towns would like the City to adopt a resolution saying that SB170 is an intrusion into local governments and denies them the opportunity to control their own destinies.

MOTION: A motion was made by Council Member Orton to approve the resolution.
SECOND: The motion was seconded by Council Member Allen.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman advised that the original bill will be withdrawn, but was not dead yet.

VOTE: Mayor McArthur called for a roll call vote, as follows:
Council Member Orton - aye
Council Member Allen - aye
Council Member Orton - aye
Council Member Bunker - aye
Council Member Gardner - aye

The vote was unanimous and the motion carried.

Council Member Gardner commented that while he was opposed to the bill, it provides an opportunity for the City to look at its own process to see if it could be done differently or better.

Public Works Director Larry Bulloch presented a power point proposal, stating that his department has been actively working with the Mall Drive neighborhood and police department to help with traffic calming. One of the goals is also to improve the beauty of the roadways. Major roadways, however, are meant to carry traffic with a minimal amount of traffic conflicts. He presented three options for Mall Drive which included medians and landscaping. The first option was $165,000, the second was $220,000, and the third was $340,000. Pedestrian counts, however, do not warrant crosswalks, but one will be built at Fossil Hills Intermediate School.

City Manager Gary Esplin expressed concern that if medians were installed in this 80' street, all 80' streets would require them and there is not funding for this.

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February 9, 2006
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Council Member Whatcott commented that Mall Drive is a corridor meant for travel. If it is turned into a residential street, then another street should be designated as a corridor street to move cars north and south.

Council Member Allen suggested first trying the radar sign to see if it helps.

Public Works Director Larry Bulloch recommended Option B as it softens the neighborhood, beautifies the area and does not interfere with access needs in commercial areas. He stated that the City Council also must decide if it wants to beautify major arterials. This can be done as roads are built.

City Manager Gary Esplin suggested that these arterials be identified and prioritized and looked at in the framework of the next budget. There will be serious funding issues. In the meantime, he suggested that radar signs be installed.

Council Member Orton commented that other areas appropriate for radar signs should also be looked at.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that installation of the signs, coupled with what the police have been doing to teach safety to the children, is a very proactive approach.

Council Member Bunker suggested that all major arterials should be evaluated for placement of medians with landscaping to beautify the roadways.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised there were ongoing maintenance costs associated with landscaped medians, and these maintenance costs will have to be included in the decision making process.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that the Canyons Complex has won awards the last seven years in a row, and the City Council gave staff the direction to make sure the facility is upgraded and maintained to remain one of the top in the country.

Kent Perkins introduced new City employees Ryan Budge, Landscape Architect, Mark Goble, Landscape Designer, and Steve Bingham, Recreation Manager.

A power point presentation with regard to the Canyons Complex history, objectives, and proposed improvements was made.

Ryan Budge explained the nine improvement areas, listed by priority: pond/pipe upgrades at $70,000, parking lot additions at $40,000, maintenance building landscaping at $91,000, underpass landscaping at $35,000, passive areas at $120,000, warm up areas at $25,000, shade structures at $60,000, south gateway improvements at $165,000, and north gateway improvements at $65,000 for a total cost of $671,000. Other improvements were also suggested: north park entry at $25,000, in-ground lighting posts at $30,000, landscaping behind fields 4 and 5 at $84,000, a new scoring tower behind fields 6 and 7 at $60,000, secondary signage at $20,000 each, Tawa Pond landscaping at $73,000, Tawa parking lot landscaping at $96,000, tree groves at $28,000, trellis expansion at the concession building at $35,000, a new building with added restrooms at $152,000, landscaping west of the new parking addition at $37,000, and concrete replacement at $53,000, for a grand total of $1,364,000.

Mr. Perkins commented that the Canyons Complex brings in about $28,000,000 to $30,000,000 a year in revenue to the City.

City Manager Gary Esplin suggested that the first nine items be done now using money out of the Economic Development Fund, and then work on the other suggested improvements.

Mr. Perkins explained that there were some things which needed to be done first. He explained that staff has begun to scale back the number of tournaments per year to 28 because the facility is suffering and needs time to heal.

City Manager Gary Esplin agreed that better scheduling was needed, as it made no sense to bring everyone in during two months of the year if they had to stay in Mesquite or Cedar City because there were no available hotel rooms in St. George.

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Council Member Whatcott suggested the possibility of incorporating a walking trail around the Canyons Complex.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that he would come back with costs and timing, and staff will begin to work on the first nine prioritized items.

Support Services Manager Marc Mortensen explained that two groups would like to present proposals for Main Street festivals. The first group, represented by Sandy Lenois, did the Downtown Thursday Night events. There needs to be consensus if the events will be held on Thursday or Friday nights.

Members of RAD presented Mayor McArthur with a picture of Main Street during the Holiday Stroll.

Council Member Bunker was excused from the meeting.

Sandy Lenois commented that last year the Downtown Thursday Night events were an instant hit with the community. She was contacted to evaluate the event, and decided to use her ability to assist Outland Productions and Chad Hardy. A mission was established to produce grand weekly events from the last week in March to the second week in November to draw a large number of people from the community and beyond to promote St. George. She proposed Thursday night events with a wide variety of educational and entertaining attractions free of charge to the public. Their event will create additional traffic and awareness of good and services, and increase patronage by means of a themed weekly event. The event will serve as a forum for artisans to show and sell their work, provide a venue for food vendors and local bands, and will provide intangible benefits to enliven community pride and spirit. An advisory committee has been established consisting of artists, community leaders, and professional event planners. She stated that a Thursday night event would be preferable over a Friday night event since there were already many things to do on Friday nights. A majority of the businesses downtown would benefit from Thursday night events. Friday night events would have a major negative effect on the Vintage Celebrations reception business. She then read letters of support. She advised that the time would be 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the spring, and 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. in the summer.

Alan Crooks advised that he has been involved with the businesses downtown in various ways, including the Fourth of July celebration and the Holiday Stroll, and he represents those downtown businesses who would like to hold Friday night events. RAD suggested that an alliance of downtown businesses be formed for this purpose. He stated that events would be held April 21 through June 30, and then again Labor Day through October 27. Funds generated will go to non-profit groups. RAD supports this proposal and is aware of the conflict with Vintage Celebrations and will accommodate them by making room for the limos, etc. The events will be family-oriented. Thursday nights prove hard for families, as this is a school night.

Mayor McArthur commented that the Downtown Thursday Night events started out great, but eventually turned into a carnival atmosphere. There was vandalism, inappropriate music, and vendors were not treated fairly. Police officers were also negative about the experience.

Sandy Lenois advised that the new events will be a whole different experience because of the advisory committee. Also, ending at 9:00 p.m. will prevent the wrong kind of group from attending. Chad Hardy also advised that the problems experienced last year were not typical for his projects.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that this item was not scheduled for a decision this evening. He stated that in his opinion it would be great to give the downtown merchants a chance as they are the primary beneficiaries of the events, and they are the logical ones to have the opportunity now to do so.

Council Member Gardner commented that with regard to the downtown parking structure, as investors in the project they were required to provide all their own parking. The City?s parking is in addition to that required by City ordinance, and was done with the downtown merchants in mind.

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February 9, 2006
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Council Member Allen commented she had not heard how the negative effect on Vintage Celebrations would be alleviated.

Council Member Bunker arrived.

Council Member Whatcott commented that with the Blvd. being torn up, closing down Main Street on a Friday night would not only hurt the wedding reception business, but also Ancestor Square. He stated that while be was leaning on the side of the downtown merchants, he did not know if adding to the congestion on a Friday night would be a good idea. He commented that the City Council?s responsibility is to make sure the event promotes the City and its preferred lifestyle. He stated it was his opinion that the carnival atmosphere created by Downtown Thursday Night was not what the City wanted to promote.

An unidentified gentleman from RAD stated that RAD is a separate organization from the downtown alliance, but appreciates the support and effort to have events in the downtown area. He suggested the possibility of both groups working together.

Mayor McArthur inquired of Mr. Crooks why the events were planned for Friday nights.

Mr. Crooks replied that the downtown alliance wants family events, and Thursday nights are school nights.

Lewis Reece advised that he represented Debbie Payser of Vintage Celebrations. He expressed concern about the loss of income to Ms. Payser if the events were held on Friday nights, and he did not know how a street fair could work around her business, even if it were nicely done.

Dennis Dargon advised that he represented local golfers who were upset with the recent rate increase. He distributed a spread sheet.

Council Member Whatcott advised Mr. Dargon that there was no rate increase June 1 through October 1.

Mr. Dargon replied that he had a season pass.

Mr. Esplin advised Mr. Dargon that a season pass allowed him to play for $4.00 a round, when it costs $12.00 a round to maintain the course.

Mayor McArthur commented that the City had to recoup its costs, and golf is paid for by golf.

Mr. Dargon inquired why golf had to be self-supporting, and commented that it should be treated like other sports.

Mr. Esplin replied there are not enough local golfers to warrant operating four courses, and if there were only two golf courses, Mr. Hargan would never be able to book a tee time. The Economic Development Fund has put $500,000 in the General Fund to help pay for golf. Additionally, the City is not proposing that it put $1,000,000 into the softball fields every year.

Mr. Dargon suggested that groups of five be allowed to play on the courses which would provide a 20% increase in revenue per tee time.

Council Member Whatcott replied that this would allow less players on the course than foursomes.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that the City cannot afford to have golfers play for less than it costs to maintain the courses.

Council Member Gardner explained that the matter was discussed specifically in a meeting devoted to golf, the Spectrum had an article about the proposed increase on the front page, two public notices were published, and it was posted as required by law. Additionally, the City stopped selling passes at the golf courses and advised the golfers about the upcoming meeting, and a good discussion was held which clarified the action taken to raise the fees.

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February 9, 2006
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Mr. Dargon suggested a citizen advisory committee on golf be formed, or the courses leased out under private management.

Mr. Esplin advised Mr. Dargon that he could purchase a pass good for unlimited golf on all the courses four months of the year for $100. He could then take the remaining $250 and use that to play at other times. The City must get people on the courses who are willing to pay the rack rate in order to subsidize the local golfers.

Support Services Manager Marc Mortensen advised that a brand new marketing campaign is in the works.

Council Member Whatcott commented that everyone else was paying for the pass player, but this has now been changed to make it more fair for everyone. The City still offers a good round of golf for a reasonable price, and Mr. Dargon?s numbers were incorrect.

Council Member Allen commented that golf rates had not been raised in three years, and the increase amounted to a $1.00 increase per year.

MOTION: A motion was made by Council Member Orton to adjourn to an executive session to discuss a property purchase.
SECOND: The motion was seconded by Council Member Bunker.
VOTE: Mayor McArthur called for a roll call vote, as follows:

Council Member Orton - aye
Council Member Bunker - aye
Council Member Whatcott - aye
Council Member Allen - aye
Council Member Gardner - aye

The vote was unanimous and the motion carried.

The meeting adjourned upon the conclusion of the executive session.

Gay Cragun, City Recorder