BRIGHTON — Despite some mixed feelings over the cost of proposed changes, City Council voted 7-2 during the April 15 meeting to include the former Brighton Senior Center building on the local historic register.
Mayor Dick McLean and Councilman J.W. Edwards cast the dissenting votes.
The city is looking at rehabbing the building into a youth services center for the city’s youth and their families. The building would need $783,000 in repairs, is anticipated to cost $504,984 in its first year and about $44,684 to operate in subsequent years.
City officials would like to move forward with pursuing state historic designation of the building, which would allow the city to pursue grant funds. Securing a historic designation with the city is the first step in that process.
While neither McLean nor Edwards disputed the historic value of the building, they raised concerns about the costs the city would incur in renovations and maintenance. McLean expressed his concern that the building would be a “money pit” for the city, and Edwards considered the other important projects the city’s department heads could use the money for.
“I’m not against preservation of this building at all, nor am I against the proposed use of what it could become for our youth,” he said. “What I’m afraid of is that since the city owns it and then we put the stamp ‘historical landmark’ (on it), we now have that chain around our neck and then we are committed to use the money in trying to restore this (building).”
Councilwoman Lynn Baca said she wouldn’t hold up the vote to designate the building as a historic landmark but that she would like council to study more of where spending from the project would come from. She also noted she would like council to have more discussions with School District 27J about what the district can bring to the table.
Councilman Rex Bell said council, along with the Historic Preservation Commission, have been wrestling with the cost of renovation versus the value of the building for about a year now. Bell noted that the commission is strongly in favor of preserving this building and that council ought to consider their counsel and recommendations, as well.
“The plan for it, I am totally in favor of those plans,” Bell said. “I think if we throw away our past and the memory of our past, we lose a lot of the future.”
Councilman Ken Kreutzer said his biggest concern is that if the city were to tear the building down, they wouldn’t get it back. He understands that buildings bring challenges but he doesn’t want the city to lose it’s past.
The second reading of the resolution is slated for council’s May 5 meeting, starting at 7 p.m. in city hall.
In other business:
• The first reading of a conditional use permit to allow an e-cigarette business in historic downtown was approved by council 7-1 vote, with one abstention. Because the land use development code doesn’t address e-cigarettes, the business — Ace Star Vapes — is being treated as a tobacco-related business. Conditions stipulated in the permit require customers to be 18 years of age or older and prohibits “vaping” in the building and prohibits the sale of recreational marijuana. McLean had the dissenting vote and Bell abstained from the vote.
• Council also approved the first reading of a conditional use permit that would allow a new childcare facility at the First Presbyterian Church property. The proposed child care facility — Four Seasons Early Learning Center — is not affiliated with the church and would be housed at the building adjacent to the church. Besides following all state and federal guidelines for a daycare, conditions for the facility include having a written agreement with the church for parking and that the pick-up or drop-off of children cannot happen on 27th Avenue or Southern Street.
• Former Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Scott was named an emeritus member of the Historic Preservation Commission in a unanimous appointment by council, with a term to April 15, 2017.
• Council unanimously approved a number of proclamations including designating the month of April as Donate Life Month, April 26 as El Día de Los Niños, and May 1 as the National Day of Prayer.