Council approves Iron Horse lease

Some long-term rentals are expected to remain available


In other business

- The council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance governing the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries. However, because of a technicality, the issue will return to the new City Council for two more votes, staff attorney Dan Foote said.

Foote explained that Tuesday night's vote previously had been scheduled for Nov. 17, until it was realized that would not allow for a second and final reading before the 90-day moratorium on the dispensaries runs out. That could have opened the door, allowing more dispensaries than the three the city plans to permit to slip in before the ordinance was in place.

The council instead approved an emergency ordinance on a single reading Tuesday night, with the understanding that a presumably identical ordinance would be formalized through two more public hearings.

- The council unanimously gave preliminary approval to the $39.5 million 2010 budget. Among the changes since the Oct. 6 budget meeting are a $17,220 increase in the summer marketing budget to $525,000 and a $2,530 increase to the Search and Rescue budget to $20,350.

— Two dozen or more Steamboat households face an uncertain winter after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a lease agreement with Boulder hotel operator New West Inns for the city-owned Iron Horse Inn.

In an Oct. 22 article, the Steamboat Today reported that 28 of 52 rooms at the Iron Horse on South Lincoln Avenue were rented on a long-term basis at $600 a month.

And though city officials hold out hope that as many as 10 rooms will be reserved for long-term rentals, that provision did not make it into the lease.

One exception is a room reserved for clients of LIFT-UP of Routt County.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said New West is open to reserving an unspecified number of rooms for long-term rentals but would not commit to that until it has time to complete an in-depth financial plan for the property.

City facilities manager "Bob Robichaud met with them, and they said they are willing to set aside 10 rooms, probably, depending upon what the nightly rental market is," DuBord said.

"But they are not willing to contract for that. They don't anticipate kicking people out of efficiencies if they can't rent them nightly. But they are not willing to say how many and for how long."

LIFT-UP Executive Director David Freseman urged the council not to give up on protecting more long-term rentals in its lease agreement.

"The whole building that has efficiency (apartments) has been extremely advantageous, it seems, to the whole community," Freseman said. "I wonder if there isn't some way to split this up," leaving the traditional hotel rooms for New West to manage and preserve the efficiencies for local work force housing.

Outgoing City Council President Loui Antonucci reminded Freseman that the city no longer wants to be in the business of managing housing and that with budget duress, it cannot afford not to realize the promise of greater income through the arrangement with New West.

The city hopes a projected annual deficit of $500,000 on the Iron Horse, which a previous council authorized buying in 2007, can be reduced to $160,000 through the New West lease.

Two councilmen who had voted against the lease on first reading of the ordinance, Scott Myller and Jon Quinn, announced that after re-examining the financial issues, they would reverse their positions and go on record as being in favor of the lease.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 6 months ago

I hope they were holding their noses when the votes were cast.


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