Controversial depot sale approved
.The for-sale sign can come down, because the Englewood City Council gave approval to the final reading of an ordinance selling the Englewood Depot.
The buyer, Denver resident Tom Parson, plans to restore the building and make it home to a living letterpress museum.
The Aug. 19 vote approving the sale was 5-2. Mayor Randy Penn, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Woodward and Councilmembers Linda Olson, Bob McCaslin and Jill Wilson voted in favor of the sale, while Councilmembers Joe Jefferson and Rick Gillit voted against it.
The decision came near the end of the long council meeting. For more than an hour, councilmembers listened to 18 unscheduled visitors, including 15 who opposed the sale and almost an hour of comments and discussion about the proposal.
Like many residents opposing the sale, resident Norma Weir preferred the depot be sold to the Englewood Historic Preservation Society to further the organization’s plans to turn it into a museum. Other opponents said the sale was illegal because the 2006 Parks and Recreation Master Plan listed the depot land as a park and the charter says voters must approve the sale of park land.
However, City Attorney Dan Brotzman stated there is no record of the required ordinance designating the land under the depot as a park. Since it wasn’t officially park land, he said, there was no requirement for residents to vote on whether or not to sell the depot and land under it.
When it was time to vote on the issue, Penn said he would vote to approve selling the depot, but added he still would try to assist the historical society to find a building for a museum, and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Woodward said he was voting for the sale because he felt it was the best course of action for the city.
Jefferson said he was voting against the sale because he didn’t agree with selling city-owned land and would prefer to lease the property. He added that he wasn’t voting against the Parson proposal and felt it could be an asset for the city.
Rick Gillit, District 4 council representative, was the most outspoken opponent of the sale.
“My vote not to sell the depot doesn’t mean I am against the Parsons’ proposal. They will probably do an excellent job with the depot,” he said. “However, I have always said I will never agree to sell city land. In this case, I think it is a bad deal for the city. The land is worth a lot more than the $30,000 being paid and the Parsons’ proposal will not bring taxes to the city. For that reason, I will vote against the sale of the depot to the Parsons.”
After the meeting, Tom Parson said he is pleased the city approved the contract to sell him the depot.
“I am excited to begin work on setting up a letterpress museum and library that I feel will attract designers, printing historians and others,” he said. “I have dreamed of setting up a living letterpress museum for years. Since I began the process to buy the depot, I have received a lot of support, including offers of the donation of valuable equipment and library collections to the museum.”
He said he hopes to close the sale by the end of the month and immediately begin pursuing grants to assist with the complete restoration of the historic building. He said he will spend about $5,000 to secure the historic easement required by the contract and also expects to eventually spend between $200,000 and $400,000 on historic restoration
He said he will soon begin investing his money to modernize the building by bringing in water, sewer and electrical services so the depot can be used.