At the May 21 Board of Trustees’ meeting, the trustees opened the meeting acting as the town’s Liquor Licensing Authority.
Applicant, Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD), had applied for a transfer of the Foundry Cinema and Bowl’s Tavern Liquor License from U9200 LLC to FVMRD. On February 11, 2019, FVMRD entered into a 4-year lease and assumed operation of the Foundry on that date. They had been operating under a temporary permit, which is due to expire on June 11, 2019.
A number of citizens were in attendance for the hearing, and town attorney, Rod McGowen, swore in all those that intended to give testimony during the hearing. McGowen also noted that one letter of opposition had been received from Craig Clark.
FVMRD Director, Scott Ledin, appeared as the applicant. He stated that FVMRD already had one liquor license in place at Bistro 28 at Pole Creek Golf Club. Ledin explained the District’s board had discussed at length whether The Foundry operation met the District’s mission. Assuring continued bowling activity to the community and visitors, the Enterprise Fund dollars generated by The Foundry would not only support the operation, but are anticipated to fund additional district programs. This satisfies their mission to not use taxpayer dollars. “The letter has no bearing on this hearing – there are inaccuracies on that particular letter”, said Ledin, referring to the letter of opposition submitted by Fraser business owner, Craig Clark. Ledin confirmed the 5% liquor taxes collected would continue to be paid to the town, causing no loss of revenue. “We pay the same sales tax as any other business operator would”, said Ledin.
Ledin added that they would like to extend the application to include outdoor seating and activities. Attorney McGowen stated that would require a separate application, since it has different requirements and was not included in the application for transfer.
Mayor Pro-tem Eileen Waldow asked Ledin what the inaccuracies were in Mr. Clark’s letter. Ledin replied, “That the Town of Fraser subsidizes the Rec District. We are autonomous”. He went on to state that they would not have pursued the operation if there had been private interest. In October 2018, the district had stepped back and told U9200 LLC business consultant, Scott Mahronic, to work through any private interest. Mahronic responded, telling them he had reached out and there did not seem to be any interest. “I will let the owner speak to that. The letter has no bearing on whether the trustees should approve the application”, said Ledin. It was noted that Trustee Parnell Quinn had represented Clark on sale negotiations with U9200 and had recused himself from the proceedings.
Speaking in favor of the approval, bowling enthusiasts Francie deVos and Terry Pratt both told the board that the liquor license is key to the success of The Foundry and would help make the bottom line work. When Trustee Katie Soles asked if they had been into The Foundry since the February 11th date of transfer, they both said they had. Pratt told them that FVMRD had reached out to the bowling community and asked them what they needed to do. As a result, they quickly agreed to host the 63rd annual Women’s Bowling Tournament. They opened early to accommodate the tourney, the bar was run effectively and they made sure the facility was open and available to the players. “It made it quite the event for us – it is just huge”, said Pratt.
FVMRD Board member, Dave McKnight also spoke in support of the license approval. “My name is on the license”, he said. “We believe this to be a great amenity for the community and guests.” McKnight added, “If you have ever gone bowling, it’s difficult to get people to go if you don’t have a bar. Many enjoy drinking a beer when they are bowling”.
Ledin added that the Board of County Commissioners, per state statute, had also reviewed and approved the District’s pursuing operation of a bowling alley at their October 23, 2018 meeting. A copy of the BOCC meeting minutes had been included with the submission and were entered into the record.
Craig Clark, owner of the Fraser Valley Center, spoke in opposition, stating, “the Rec District has deviated from their mission”. He added, “the Rec District is showing poor moral character in their testimony”. Clark explained that when this was briefed, it was conveyed that, if there were private parties, the District agreed to “step away”. Clark stated, “There were 3 offers at or near the asking price. The (District) Board was notified by myself and the realtor.” Clark said he felt the sellers of the building were leveraging the Rec District to drive the price up and a poor financial decision had been made. “It’s offensive to the Town of Fraser. The Rec District is subsidized and running a for profit business, competing against other businesses in the Town for recreational dollars”. Clark told the trustees his first offer was initiated in October 2018. “There was an offer on table up to the date it was voted on and approved.”
Mayor Pro-tem Waldow asked if it was an active offer on January 31, when the FVMRD Board voted. Clark replied, “Yes it was. The offer was very close, within percentage points”. Trustee Herb Meyring asked why the seller did not accept the offer. “It was too far down the road with the Rec District”, said Clark.
Attorney Jack DiCola stated he was not counsel for the applicant, but counsel for U9200 LLC owner, Mark Unicume. After Attorney McGowen swore him in, DiCola stated, “Mr. Quinn presented an offer of $3 million, with numerous conditions in October (2018). $4,250,000 is what Mr. Unicume wanted. The offer was contingent on a $3.2 million loan and a 190-day closing period. He never offered a price within a quarter of a million dollars of the asking price”. DiCola pointed out that the Rec District had not purchased the building and confirmed that Clark’s offers had been rejected, with no counter offer.
Mayor Vandernail asked Ledin about Clark’s statement regarding moral character. “It sounds like there was private interest and you represented there wasn’t.”
Ledin replied, “I take offense to that. I continue to say to the owners, if you are interested in private offers, we are happy to step back. I can’t speak to whether an offer is reasonable. I am not the owner. That was a decision left to the ownership. In October, we told them we are going to step away, we are not interested. We received a call back stating there was no private interest”.
No one else spoke in opposition to the license transfer.
Mayor Pro-tem Waldow asked if any investigation had been done on the liquor license the District held at Bistro 28. Town Clerk, Antoinette McVeigh said there had not. When asked, Ledin confirmed there were no disciplinary actions against the Bistro 28 liquor license.
Trustee Ryan Barwick asked Mr. Clark, “This was very public – we read about it for months. Did you engage the Board or the seller?”.
Clark replied, “Only in January, when we felt mislead. Mr. Quinn, on my behalf, made contact with the District to let them know there was an offer with contingencies very normal to a transaction such as this. We negotiated in good faith and raised our offer several times”.
“Being a public process, did you go and represent your offer to them?”, asked Trustee Barwick.
Clark said the only efforts were made when the vote was pending/imminent. That was when Mr. Quinn contacted them, but not in a public forum.
Trustee Barwick asked Ledin if the FVMRD Board meetings were public and Ledin confirmed they were.
Attorney McGowen next gave the Board several options to consider and the trustees agreed to move forward with a vote. After the public hearing was closed, Trustee Soles moved to approve Resolution 2019-05-05, transfer of The Foundry Tavern license to the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District, subject to approval of the state liquor license by the Colorado Dept of Revenue. The motion passed 5-1, with Mayor Pro-tem Waldow casting a dissenting vote. “There are too many questions for me”, she said. Many in attendance applauded the approval.
Repair work on CR 8 to begin in August
The Fraser Board of Trustees next reviewed the bids received for construction and replacement of the bridge over the Fraser River on County Road 8. Two bids had been received, and the quote from Duckels Construction, Inc. of Steamboat Springs, came in most competitively at a cost of $879,206. Town Engineers, Bowman Consulting, estimated total project costs to be $1,102,896, including force accounts of $187,000 to be used for construction management and unforeseen changes that occur during construction.
Budgeted at $1.2 million, the amount came in nearly $134K less than the budgeted amount. The Town received grant funds from CDOT as part of their off-highway bridge replacement program, and the remaining amount of approximately $200,000 is shared between the Town and the County. With an anticipated construction period of four months, Town Manager Jeff Durbin suggested offering the contractor an early completion bonus, if it works with the Town’s IGA with CDOT. Trustee Barwick recommended that, since they cannot do a firm, fixed price, if the contractor sticks to the bid and completes the job early, only then should a bonus apply. Manager Durbin agreed that it could be a good option. The trustees approved the bid unanimously.
With the approval, construction on the CR 8 bridge will begin on August 1, timed with completion of the Pedestrian Safety project. The Town is looking into several alternative travel routes to be utilized during construction, since complete closure of CR 8 from the intersection of US 40 over the Fraser River would be necessary to complete the work.
To learn more, visit frasercolorado.com.