Growing pains and responsibility for rodeo grounds maintenance

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CAVE CREEK – Mayor Vincent Francia opened up Monday night’s council meeting by congratulating and expressing gratitude to all involved in Wild West Days.

debbie barlowTraci Casale, president of the Cave Creek Rodeo, introduced volunteer Debbie Barlow, who researched costs and availability of companies to replace the code-deficient bleachers at the rodeo grounds and provide additional seating for an event that turned away 500 people last year due to lack of adequate seating.

Casale made a pitch to council last month for a $25,000 contribution toward the $100,000 cost to replace the code-deficient bleachers salvaged from a Mesa high school over 30 years ago.

At the time, council stated it wanted to know more about the costs for renting versus purchasing and comparative bids for purchasing.

Barlow explained the unsafe salvaged bleachers in Section 5 only hold 250 people and, although the VIP section was safe, it was too small.

The VIP bleachers would be moved to the other side of Section 5 and new bleachers would be installed to provide additional seating in the VIP section.

What they were proposing was for the town to provide $25,000 toward replacing the VIP section, move the VIP bleachers to the other side of Section 5 and rent the Section 5 seating at a cost of $12,000 which would come out of the rodeo’s operating budget.

Councilman Mike Durkin questioned how they went from contributing $25,000 and getting all the bleachers done to just getting the VIP section done and the rodeo coming back to council for more money next year.

He said, “That is certainly not what we were pitched last time.”

Casale said, “The answer is, we’re out of time.”

She explained they have to report their seating to ticket agencies in December and there are no bleacher companies that can complete all the work by then.

Durkin said he could certainly understand the shortness of time and stated, “But what we’re getting for $25,000 is not the same as a couple weeks ago. Something has changed.”

Casale said they “ran every path they could and have to get the rodeo grounds up to code.”

She also pointed out the town is the assigned manager of the rodeo grounds and the rodeo is helping as much as it can.

Durkin said he wanted an explanation because time and money aren’t the same thing.

Councilman Reg Monachino said it was clear to him the rodeo is going to need additional funds and stated, “Yes, we do want a rodeo.”

He also stated there were 17 opportunities to apply for grant money from the various Indian Nations that have gaming compacts with the state.

As he called for a vote to approve the $25,000 expenditure, Francia thanked the rodeo volunteers and said council asked for additional information, which they provided. He also stated, with the Cave Creek Rodeo being nominated for best small rodeo in the country, it is now part of an elite group, which he said is all a part of “growing pains.”

With Vice Mayor Adam Trenk absent the motion passed unanimously.

Council also passed a resolution supporting the Sonoran Arts League’s annual Hidden in the Hills Artist Studio Tour and Sale to be held later this month.

Associate Planner Bambi Muller, the town’s trails coordinator, gave a presentation with before and after pictures of the storm damage to the trails after the two major weather events this year.

She said ordinarily they rely heavily on volunteers, who have logged 574 hours, but the damage was so extensive they needed to bring in equipment and expertise, which she said should give them more sustainable repairs.

She said the Maricopa Regional Trail, the 10-miles of trail that connects Cave Creek Regional Park with Spur Cross Conservation Area was the most damaged.

Muller said Okanogan Trail Construction, Inc. was brought in along with numerous volunteers to complete the repairs.

Cave Creek Merchants and Events Association (CCMEA) Treasurer Marc Peagler presented a revamped banner program to council for approval and said, among the changes made to the program, contracts would be for one year instead of six months.

Councilman Thomas McGuire asked what they expected for annual income from the program.

Peagler said it would be $2,000 based on the current full deposit ones.

Peagler noted 80 percent of the revenue would go to CCMEA and 20 percent would go to the town.

Monachino stated there was no mention of the almost $7,000 reimbursement to the town for costs it incurred to implement the program.

Peagler said the 80/20 split was in perpetuity, so once the town was paid back it will continue to produce revenue.

Councilman Charles Spitzer stated there was nothing in the document about subleasing, which Peagler agreed should be added.

Councilman Ernie bunch moved to approve the program with the addition of a subleasing clause.

Monachino asked to include some sort of reimbursement acknowledgement and said, “There is money due to the town,” and wanted some type of payment schedule to pay the town back on a regular basis.

The motion passed unanimously with the understanding CCMEA will come back with a repayment program.

Council voted 5-1, with Durkin dissenting, to pass the first reading of a zoning change from Desert Rural to General Commercial for 7.58 acres located at the northwest corner of Cave Creek and Olesen roads for applicant Nicholas Brown of CEG Applied Sciences on behalf of owners Ben and Kathryn Pearson.

The parcels are purportedly for the development of a Tractor Supply Co. store, described as a consortium of many different stores in one, for ranch and farm needs.

Council voted 4-2, with Bunch and Durkin voting in favor, against a development agreement with Lou Spelts for his Continental Mountain Estates project requesting waivers from the subdivision ordinance regarding fire hydrants and approximately $96,000 in capital improvements to be provided by the town for improvements to water lines.

When asked if the town had the authority to waive the items in the agreement, Town Attorney Fredda Bisman said there is no provision for waivers in the subdivision ordinance.

She also pointed out the wording in the agreement was very broad and indicated it could permit waivers of more items than those being discussed.

Francia commented he understood the fairness argument, safety and setting a precedent, but after listening to counsel felt the provisions were too broad.

Council voted unanimously in favor of a housekeeping measure brought forward by staff to approve a resolution establishing all water rates and fees by resolution instead of by ordinance.

According to Town Manager Peter Jankowski, the fees that were previously adopted by ordinance and were part of the town code are being established by resolution at exactly the same rate.

Council also voted unanimously to approve amendments to the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Budget by transferring appropriations from a variety of funds, as per the town auditor’s recommendations.

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