MONTE VISTA — The Monte Vista City Council approved the sale of the Gulzow Building to Wayne Pacheco for $65,000 during Thursday's meeting, Nov. 18. The council's 5-0 vote came after a public hearing on the matter.
City staff also explained the process for selling the building located at 720 1st Ave. Raina Bowsher had questioned the process during a City Council meeting on Nov. 4.
City Attorney Michael Trujillo provided a list of exhibits that were entered into the record for the sale of the building, including, the original lease agreement, between the City and Ron Douglas. The agreement did not include an option to buy the building, although there was an addendum to the lease that included the option to buy the building. Trujillo also provided an appraisal that had been done by Monte Mullins showing the value of the building at $65,000, and a letter from Pacheco, who is the current lessee, requesting to purchase the building.
The Gulzow Building at one time was home to the Monte Vista Police Department.
Trujillo answered questions that had been brought up at the prior City Council meeting by Bowsher. Trujillo said that if the City abandons a building, it can be leased or sold without a public vote. Trujillo pointed out that the Gulzow Building had been empty for over 10 years before being leased to Douglas, therefore it qualified under the charter rule to be leased without a public vote, so the prior accusation of not following protocol when originally leasing the building was moot.
Trujillo said that while interested parties talked about inquiring about the sale of the building two years prior to the current hearing, none of those parties had requested any type of public hearing for the sale of the building.
Anyone could still do so at this public hearing, Trujillo said.
“If people are interested in this property at this public hearing, there is no contract with Mr. Pacheco on this building," he said. "The hearing this evening is being held, to allow anyone, including Mr. Pacheco who has a proposal and wants to purchase the building, the option to purchase the building."
Trujillo added that the City Council had the option of accepting, rejecting, or not selling the building at all in accordance with the rules of the charter.
Pacheco spoke at the meeting and said he was not looking for a special deal.
"Ron Douglas and myself proceeded with the best of intentions on this building," Pacheco said. "We were not looking for any special deals or special treatment, only a fair deal. What we understood was Douglas had the right to buy the building. I have put a lot of money into this building, it was really in a bad state of disrepair. I spent $30,000 repairing the building. Had I have known that two years from then, I would be asking for permission to purchase the building, I don’t think I would have spent $30,000. I am not asking for anything special or a sweetheart deal. I would like to purchase the building for the appraised amount. I am a native of Monte Vista, and I am only asking for the opportunity to purchase the building.”
Rio Grande County Commissioner Scott Deacon and OptiMystics Citizens Action Network member Ken Hamko both spoke in favor of the sale to Pacheco.
“Pacheco had made the building into a worthwhile business,” Deacon said.
“Monte Vista needed to make it easier for people to have their own business,” Hamko said.
Douglas spoke about previously being Monte Vista’s Economic Development coordinator. Douglas said that he leased and took on the Gulzow Building along with two other buildings to help business growth in Monte Vista.
“We tried everything we could to get people into these buildings," he said. "They were not habitable, nobody wanted them, that is why I chose to lease them out so that I could fix them and make them nicer so that people would want to put their businesses into these buildings.”
He said that despite local rumors, he just wanted to help local businesses.
Bowsher was opposed to the sale.
“This isn't about me winning anything, two people talked to the City Manager about purchasing the building two years ago, and we were never given the equal opportunity to buy this building," she said. "We were never informed or given the chance to sign a lease, the City Manager never got back to us. The City Council are fiduciaries for Monte Vista, you should have gone out with RFP’s where were you acting as responsible fiduciaries? Interested parties were never told anything.”
Bowsher said while she respected Pacheco and the money and work he had put into the Gulzow Building, that as a business owner she also had to put in money to improve her building before she opened it and that it was just part of the process of owning a business. Bowsher's husband Jim also spoke in opposition to the sale.
Phinel Garcia was opposed to the sale, stating that policy and procedures were not followed.
The public hearing closed with the Gulzow Building being sold to Pacheco with a unanimous vote of the council for the appraised value of $65,000.
In other matters, Stephanie Ruybal was formally introduced as the City's new Event Center Manager.
A motion was also passed to approve the ongoing IT Intergovernmental Agreement, between Monte Vista and Alamosa, allowing the current IT Technicians to continue to maintain the City of Monte Vista’s computer systems.
An update on the municipal golf course was also provided by Austin Heersink.
"The golf course had a great year and has also become self-sufficient,” Heersink said.
City Council members brought up the $40,000 that had been requested for the golf course in the budget, and Heersink said that the money would go toward demolition of the pro shop buildings and for building a new pro shop. Heersink added that the golf course also wanted to match the amount from the City to help with the project. Councilor Martha Lock recommended that Heersink look into any grants that might be available to help.
A second public hearing was held for a liquor license at 201 Jefferson, for a business called the Public Pivot House. Justin Deforest said he is planning to open a restaurant at the corner of Jefferson and Second streets with his wife. They would be serving craft cocktails, beer, and wine in the restaurant. He plans on opening in June of 2022.
Local business owner Starla Encinas was opposed to the liquor license, stating that this would be close to her business, and she would not want to be responsible for anyone that parked in her parking lot who became intoxicated at the nearby restaurant.
Monte Vista Police Department Police Chief George Dingfelder said she would not be responsible if they were in her parking lot.
The Council unanimously awarded the liquor license to Deforest.
The final reading of the City's budget was approved by the Council with a 3-2 vote.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2.