MONTE VISTA— City Manager Forrest Neuerburg took to the city council’s podium at the regular Thursday, March 21 meeting to request that the city council approve lease addendums to a contract between the city and Ron Douglas, owner of Local Business Assist (LBA). The request was to let Douglas continue with some plans he has for some empty buildings in town, and to find potential buyers and occupants. The leases are separate from his economic development he previously had with the city which was ended earlier in March.
The two buildings that are the forefront of this discussion are the old Valley Publishing building on Adams Street and the Guzlow building, or old police station and ambulance bays on Highway 160. Currently, the Guzlow building has a tenant, but the old publishing building has remained empty for over a decade. The city has used the old newspaper building primarily as storage space, with occasional deviations such as commodities being distributed there at some time. Originally the building was donated to become an art studio, but that project never came to fruition.
Neuerburg explained to the council that it would be in the interest of the city to allow Douglas to continue with plans to find potential buyers and tenants due to the length of time they have remained unoccupied and because of some complications in the case of the Guzlow building. Neuerburg explained that the Guzlow building was once a public building that housed a public service so therefore it could not be sold by the city without going before the voters of the city of Monte Vista. He stated that for over a decade that the buildings have been empty there has not been substantial interest in purchasing or leasing the buildings. Douglas has potential projects lined up and Neuerburg said he believed in their validity so encouraged the council to approve the lease modifications. He also stated he could get together with the city attorney to determine how the Guzlow building could legally be sold by the approval of the voters if that became necessary in the future.
Councilor Gary Johnson made a motion to approve the lease modifications with Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala seconding. When it was asked if there was further discussion, Councilor Kathy Lorenz raised some points of concern with the Guzlow building. She stated she was in favor of allowing Douglas to carry out his lease for the old Valley Publishing building, but thought there was unrest in the community regarding the details of the Guzlow building and thought the issues should be separated and that the lease end. Douglas, who was present at the meeting, stated that if the city wanted the building back, it was fine with him, but he had receipts for work done and would be seeking a refund of his invested money. The council voted 3-1 to allow Douglas to continue his lease.