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Plans for Monmouth fire station site on hold

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth City Council decided to wait for more information before approving a temporary use of the old fire station on North Warren Street in the downtown core.

Monmouth City Council

Monmouth City Council

January 14, 2014

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth City Council decided to wait for more information before approving a temporary use of the old fire station on North Warren Street in the downtown core.

Three proposals for the property were submitted to the city from the Monmouth-Independence YMCA, Grove Community Church and Travis Johnson. The Y pulled its proposal at the Jan. 7 council meeting.

The remaining two proposals included paying monthly rent. The previous craft and farmers market that used the space for several years until Dec. 21 did not pay rent, only monthly utility bills.

The church proposal asked that upgrades to the building, including making the bathrooms in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, come out of the $750 monthly rent it offered.

Johnson, who signed his offer as "your friend in Monmouth," offered $500 a month in rent, plus utilities.

Neither councilors nor City Manager Scott McClure had more details on Johnson, except that he submitted his proposal at the last minute.

Both proposals included using the space for community gatherings.

The church would open the building to community events throughout the week and hold its Sunday services, which would bring patrons to downtown businesses for breakfast and lunch on Sundays, according to its proposal.

Johnson said in his proposal that he would open the space for students to use for things such as concerts, art shows, or to just hang out.

Churches are not an outright use in a Main Street District, and the Grove Community Church would have to go through a conditional use process, McClure said.

Mayor John Oberst said a church used to be downtown, and had received a conditional use permit many years ago. But when the church had gone to renew the extension, Oberst said it was declined.

"A church doesn't drive business downtown," he said. "I have that concern again."

Councilman Ben Meyer agreed that issuing an open-ended conditional use wouldn't work, in part because the fire station property is part of the Warren Street Project, and the city would want leeway to allow that project to move forward.

Councilors asked McClure about the bathrooms, and if they'd have to be brought up-to-date regardless of who used the building. McClure said he wasn't sure, but would come back with more information, estimating the cost to be about $20,000.

The council decided not to accept either proposal at this time.

In other business, the council on Jan. 7:

• Discussed the pedestrian crossings on Highway 99W, and how they may be able to improve pedestrian safety.

• Approved a $20 administrative fee for parking an occupied trailer on the street.

• Approved the new Mon-mouth Senior Center expansion plans, and agreed to put another $120,000 toward the project in the next fiscal year if grant funding does not come through.

• Continued discussion about the Warren Street Project, including the parking issues downtown now, and how it might be impacted by more retail and residential buildings.

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