MONTROSE – The Montrose City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance to close a portion of South Cascade Ave. between South Second, and South Third streets to be transformed into a pedestrian quad aimed at connecting portions of Colorado Mesa University's Montrose Campus.
CMU Vice President for Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Derek Wagner told council the project represents the college's continued commitment to developing its downtown campus.
Council councilors Judy Ann Files, Bob Nicholson, Carol A. McDermott and David Romero voted to approve the ordinance (Councilor Kathy Ellis was not present); the required second vote takes place in two weeks.
In August, CMU purchased the former 3,200 square-foot Patrick Davis and Associates architectural firm building at 245 S. Cascade Ave. to house the school's new student lounge, tutoring center, career services department, financial aid, and meeting rooms for student clubs and organizations, for $400,000. The City of Montrose contributed $50,000 toward the purchase.
To connect its new building to the CMU main campus on the west side of Cascade Avenue, CMU wants to close the street, citing the need for pedestrian safety and for creating an open space for students and library users.
City Manager Bill Bell said the project would resemble Centennial Plaza, and that the city plans to increase parking areas downtown next year.
Ron Barta, who owns and rents out office space in a building on the corner of South Cascade Ave. and South Second St., voiced concern that the project would adversely affect tenants’ parking, but was assured by Wagner and by Community Development Director Kerwin Jensen that final plans will take into account his concerns.
Wagner said the college has reached out to Montrose County to use portions of its parking lot located directly north of the campus, and that use of that lot would relieve parking congestion at the library. CMU has agreed to pay for the landscaping improvements, and says the area will still be accessible for emergency vehicles.
Wagner said the project and the purchase of the Davis building sits on top of CMU’s to-date $1 million investment in a Montrose campus.
"We have made a commitment to being downtown. Our actions speak louder than words," Wagner said.
Founded in 1925, CMU enrolls more than 9,000 students in associate, baccalaureate and graduate programs.
City Approves Shared Services Agreement With Rec District
Members of the Montrose City Council renewed the city's intergovernmental agreement with the Montrose Recreation District for shared services in finance, turf, field and facility maintenance, and IT services.
City officials said the agreement generates $86,000 in revenue and saves taxpayers up to $100,000 annually.
"This has been a great opportunity for reducing costs to the taxpayers by sharing our services," said Virgil Turner, the city's director of innovation and citizen engagement.
New Guidelines for Door-To-Door Solicitation
In 1937 the City of Montrose banned door-to-door solicitation but in order to avoid free speech challenges, the the Montrose City Council on Tuesday changed the city's ordinance and will soon be delivering the new guiltiness to the public.
City attorney Stephen Alcorn said the Montrose ordinance was similar to the one used in Ft. Collins. He said the City of Ft. Collins was sued because the ordinance violated commercial free speech and ended up being a "costly court battle."
To avoid the same challenge and costs to the City of Montrose a new ordinance was approved to balance the First Amendment rights of residential solicitors in the city with the privacy, safety, health and welfare of city residents.
The new ordinance requires the city to issue identification badges and permits for solicitors and limit hours of solicitation activities.
Residents with no solicitation or no trespassing signs already on their property will not be affected and the ordinance will allow residents to sign-up for "no solicitation" list so companies will know who allows solicitation.
Nonprofit organizations seeking donations or gifts, religious organizations and political organizations will not be affected by the new ordinance.
"The Girl Scouts can still bring you Thin Mint cookies" Alcorn said. "This allows us to control it better.”
The ordinance will go into effect Jan. 31, 2014, violators can be sentenced to 1-year in county jail or face thousands of dollars in fines.
In Other City Business...
• Residents are invited to Montrose's annual Parade of Light on Main Street this Saturday starting at 5 p.m.
• The deadline to purchase Montrose Bucks is Dec. 6 at the City's Office of Business and Tourism located at 107 Cascade Ave. Residents can get $120 in Montrose bucks with $100 cash and can be used through most Montrose area businesses.
• City Manager Bill Bell also said the winter season is approaching and with it, seasonal tourists visiting Western Colorado Ski areas. He said residents should have a "welcoming attitude" to visitors traveling through the community.
• Montrose resident Sharon Fipps was approved to fill a vacant position on the Montrose Parks Advisory Board.
• Santa is scheduled to be at his cabin this Sunday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Market Square located at 514 S. First St.