Kent City Council defers Wells Sherman House Loan payments, approves road closures for farmer’s market celebration

Kaylee Peterson

The Kent City Council committees approved several new items at its meeting Wednesday. The agenda included issues such as street closures for the Haymaker’s Farmer’s Market 25th Anniversary celebration and a financial report concerning the revenue and expenses associated with parking meters in Downtown Kent.

Wells Sherman House Loan Option

Ann Ward spoke to the council to request a two year deferment on the current $125 per month payment residents of the historic house pay. Ward cited that the house, which was moved from a temporary location on College Street to North water Street in 2013, is a source of support for the community and local groups who need meeting places.

Non-profit organizations frequently use the building for meetings and events. Additionally, the house is available for lease as needed by community members and remains open for public restroom use during downtown Main Street events, such as the Art and Wine Festival.

The basement is undergoing renovations, Ward said, which will hopefully increase its rental potential. However, Ward also cited that concurrent renovations of neighboring buildings coupled with run-down state of some of these buildings could contribute to a lack of interest in renting the space.

Ward asked for the deferment in order to allow the historic house to “get back on its feet” with hope in the future all remaining loans would be forgiven.

The council unanimously approved the deferment request.

Haymaker Farmer’s Market 25th Anniversary Celebration

The Haymaker Farmer’s Market is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and requested the city approve a partial road closure of Franklin Avenue from 6-9 p.m. on August 18.

Ami Gignac, vice president and treasurer for the Haymaker board, spoke in front of the council and explained the selection of the date after Mayor Jerry Fiala questioned closing a major road in Downtown Kent on a Friday night.

Gignac said Friday night allowed the community and vendors to be more involved and to pull in people who may not have had previous exposure to the farmer’s market.

The council unanimously approved the street closure, which will extend along Franklin Avenue from Erie Street to College Street.

Downtown Parking Meter Financial Report

Bridget Susel, the Kent community development director, presented a financial report of the revenues and expenses incurred by the parking meters in Downtown Kent.

In May 2015, the city installed 221 meters but due to technological difficulties and errors, 2016 was the only year considered in the financial report.

Sussel said the meters, which cost $288,000 to install, would need to be replaced by 2018. The cost of replacement is estimated to cost $650 per meter and nearly 235 will need to be ordered. This leaves the estimated cost of replacement exceeding $150,000.

“They’re like cell phones,” Sussel said.“They only have a shelf life of three to five years.”

Despite the cost of installation and eventual replacement, Sussel said the meters are assessed to be self-funding. While the city is not currently seeing a remarkable revenue, the meters do make enough to fund eventual replacements and repairs as well as other associated costs including the staffing of a compliance officer to monitor the meters.

All other revenue made from the parking meters is put into a reserve fund to eventually contribute to parking efforts and renovations downtown.

The meters were originally implemented in an effort to support local commerce and store owners, who thrive off of frequent turnover at store fronts. Although residents were originally upset with the meter installation, Sussel said the outrage has calmed and she now rarely receives complaints.

No vote was required from the committee as this was a financial report.

Proposed Queen of Hearts Event in Fred Fuller Park

The Kent City Parks and Recreation department requested a permit to allow vendors to sell alcohol at a proposed Queen of Hearts event.

Currently, alcohol is prohibited in city parks; however, the organizers cited alcohol sales as critical to the success of any Queen of Hearts event.

The event, which is scheduled to take place on July 23, has the potential to be a big source of revenue for the Parks and Recreation department, which will receive 50 percent of the proceeds from the 50-50 raffle.

The event was cited as low-risk to the city as the city’s only responsibility would be staffing, which is provided by the Parks and Recreation department. All alcohol vendors would be located in a separate, roped-off area. No revenue from alcohol sales will be incurred by the city.

The council unanimously approved the motion to permit alcohol on July 23.

Parks and Recreation Facility “Resolution of Necessity”

The Parks and Recreation department also requested an approval from from the council to begin the process for obtaining a 17.5 million bond to construct a Health and Wellness center.

The process would begin with the Parks and Recreation department reaching out to the county financial department and obtaining a financial report about the impacts of a bond. The bonds are typically issued for 30 years and paid for by the taxpayers.

Once a financial report is obtained, the issue will be sent to the ballot in November for a vote by citizens.

The council approved the motion unanimously.

Kaylee Peterson is the downtown reporter, contact her at [email protected].