Thursday, May 29, 2014

Putting Unclaimed Property To Work

Council discusses disposition of property

Council Members have recently discussed how unclaimed property acquired by the Provo Police can be more efficiently utilized.

The Council’s discussion focused specifically on bicycles and tools which come into possession of the Provo Police as stolen, abandoned, lost, or unclaimed property.

According to Utah State Law, property acquired by Provo City may either be auctioned off and the funds raised added to the city general fund, or the Council can authorize a conversion of the property into public use.

Provo Police collected 262 bicycles last year, and after unsuccessful attempts to reunite them with their owners, sold them to an auctioneer for $13 each, depositing the monies earned into the Provo City General Fund. The Council’s intent in the discussion of disposition of bicycles focused on an exploration of  more efficient uses for bicycles which would benefit the community to a greater degree than collecting a paltry $3,500 for use in the general fund.

As a result of their discussion, it was determined to permit Provo Police to have first access to the stolen bikes which they use in crime prevention activities, and allow the remainder of the bicycles to be utilized by The Provo Bicycle Collective, a non-profit 501c3 organization. The Provo Bicycle Collective explained how their organization would make better use of the lost or stolen bicycles in a presentation at the Council’s Work Meeting.

“As a non-profit organization, the Provo Bicycle Collective’s goal is to provide residents of Provo, especially the needy, with access to a professional bicycle shop and tools at low cost,” said Zac Whitmore, Director of The Provo Bicycle Collective.  “Thousands have already been helped.”  Whitmore said the Collective’s Earn a Bike program, which benefits at-risk children, would greatly benefit from a donation of the bicycles. Earn a Bike provides training for at risk youth over the course of a week, where they learn bicycle repair and maintenance skills. Following completion of the program, the child gets to keep the bicycle they have repaired. Whitmore said this gives kids skills which can help them gain employment at seasonal bicycle sellers and assemblers, like Walmart and Target, and also provides them with a means of transportation.

Whitmore said that after repair, the typical bicycle improved by the Collective is valued at $65, a significant improvement from the $13 the city now receives from auctioned bicycles.

Provo Police also said they had a use for some unclaimed stolen or abandoned tools, but would need the Council to authorize the conversion to public use.

The Council voted unanimously for staff to prepare a draft resolution to address the Provo Police’s needs for retained tools, and for a the possible donation of bicycles recovered by the Provo Police to be used by the Provo Bicycle Collective.  The Council will revisit this issue at a later Council Meeting.  

Growing an Urban Living Culture in Provo

Developer announces new project on 80 North, 100 East

The Council recently heard a presentation from Ryan Freeman,the CEO of Forge Companies, announcing plans for a new 75 unit, six-story apartment complex at 80 North, 100 East in downtown Provo.

Freeman said his company was interested in investing in Provo because of the leadership provided by the city, and the economic opportunities and growth about to take place in Utah County.

“We believe that Provo is on the brink of a major economic explosion,” Freeman said. “We have our finger on the pulse of a lot of companies that want to come into Utah County, and feel that Provo is really poised to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Seven main floor two-story brownstone apartments are planned, containing three to four bedroom units, and sixty-eight apartment buildings above those. Courtyard and rooftop areas were also planned, and Freeman said the apartments would be slightly larger than those on 63 East. Freeman said the buildings were designed to enable a modern historic blending, and provide for a more walkable environment.

Forge Companies is also the developer of the adjacent complex of mixed-use apartments at 63 east. Freeman said the success and interest in the apartments at that site spurred the company to expand their offerings, and indicated the close proximity of the facilities would allow them to closely manage economies of scale, and to share management.

“We’re fifty percent pre-leased at the apartments at 63 East during the construction phase,” Freeman said. “For anyone who knows about the business, that is a very difficult threshold to achieve, and indicates a substantial level of interest. We’re also one hundred percent pre-leased for retail at 63 East also, and we expect to see similar interest in this project.”

Freeman said his company was requesting Provo City Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to fund a loan of $600,000 for the development, for which they would receive 5% of the revenues over a ten year period. This is a similar agreement to the current agreement the RDA has with Forge Companies for the development on 63 East.

A challenge to the development will be to find adequate parking facilities to allow for an optimal 1.5 spaces per unit, which Freeman said would be necessary to market the development competitively. Freeman said adequate parking could be achieved in a variety of ways, including exercising an option to lease more spaces at the Wells Fargo parking garage, and including 20 surface parking stalls in front of the building along 100 East.

Freeman said a lot of the interest in this project has come as a result of excitement for the new urbanism movement among young people, and that this development would provide new opportunities for Provo to capitalize on that excitement.

“Provo can be the only true urban living experience in Utah County,” Freeman said. “With Salt Lake at one end, and Provo at the other as a bookend, this could be a great way to capture that urban living trend that’s so popular with the 25 to 30-year-old demographic.”

The project is pending a development application that will require planning commission approval.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Council hears proposal for Strategic Parking and Management Study

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch? Parking Strategy

Council Members recently heard a presentation proposing a Strategic Parking Management analysis study to assess parking comprehensively in Provo.

“In the past, parking issues in Provo have been handled in an ad-hoc sort of way, case-by case,” Community Development Director Gary McGinn told the Council. “The city would benefit from a long-term, holistic approach to parking, one that would weigh the competing interests and needs of students, residents, renters, businesses and educational institutions,” he said.

McGinn indicated that Brigham Young University and the Utah Transit Authority are supportive of Provo’s efforts at strategic parking management, and that they would tailor and augment their policy to align it with the city’s.

As part of the process, Provo’s Community Development Department has put out a request for competitive bids for firms to perform the study, and received four offers which have been ranked by a committee representing different interests in the city. McGinn said the next step after approval from the Council would be to discuss which of the firms to include in the project.

McGinn said Community Development wanted to do the project correctly, but in a way which would be cost conscious. To ensure the best possible use of funds, McGinn said Community Development would hold discussions to determine to what degree city staff and interns from BYU’s planning and transportation planning programs could contribute to the project.

Provo Mayor Curtis offered some thoughts about the proposal, saying he thought taking a comprehensive, strategic approach to parking was a good idea, as it would allow the city to discuss potential future issues including downtown parking, traffic circulation and congestion, and consider the impact parking meters and parking garages could have on downtown parking, among other issues.

McGinn said the study would provide information and recommendations for best practices for Provo based on an analysis of cities with similar demographics, institutions and traffic patterns.

The majority of funds for this study have already been appropriated.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Breaking Ground at the Westside Connector Road

(Council Chair Hal Miller offering remarks at the Provo Westside Connector Groundbreaking)

Last week Council Chair Hal Miller and other Council Members joined Provo Mayor John Curtis at the groundbreaking for the the Provo Westside Connector. The Provo Westside Connector is a road 3.7 miles long which will connect I -15 at the 1860 South University Avenue Exit to 3110 West, near the entrance to the Provo Airport. This will provide direct access to the Provo Airport from the South University Avenue I-15 exit, and increase mobility with new developments on Provo's West side.

(Provo Mayor Curtis, Council Members, and Provo City Staff and other officials)
The impact this road will have on the city will be dramatic,” said Mayor Curtis. “From an economic standpoint, from a quality-of-life standpoint, even from a safety standpoint.” Mayor Curtis also noted the cooperation and work of many people to bring the Westside Connector project to fruition, including the city’s work with affected property owners, and also noting the cost savings from other I-15 projects which made the road’s funding possible.

(Mayor Curtis at the controls of the groundbreaking back-hoe, Allegiant flight in the background)
Council Chair Hal Miller also noted the importance of the road and its role in the greater development for the city. Miller asked those present to consider all the past pivotal moments of change for the Provo community over the last century of its development, and consider how the Westside Connector would take its place as a moment in Provo history which was essential for the future growth of the city.
“The Westside Connector I believe will come to be viewed as a pivotal point and a moment of special significance which will help Provo toward its destiny as the urban center of Utah County,” Miller said.

Council Approves Issuance of Bonds for Cemetery Expansion

Cemetery Expansion.jpg

The Council unanimously approved the issuance and sale of cemetery revenue bonds to fund an expansion of the Provo City Cemetery, which is very near to its capacity, at Council Meeting on May 6, 2014.

Provo City Cemetery was founded in 1853, and has around 38,000 plots, covering 45 acres.  Currently there are less than 1,000 plots available. The expansion will add approximately 8 acres which the city already owns.

As a result of a competitive bidding process, a loan by investors to the city, administered by Capital One Public Funding LLC, was chosen in the amount of $2,340,000 on a twenty year term. The city was given a very favorable rate of 3.87%.

Funding for the repayment of the loan will be through those that use the cemetery by paying plot sales and burial fees. If sales are higher than expected, the city has the option to pay off the amount early.

This project supports the Council's Vision 2030 core values of:
  • Preserving legacy to future generations
  • Creating sense of place in Provo, and how our heritage influences who we are
  • Our understanding of the connection between living spiritual values and well-being
  • Our effective and well-maintained public infrastructure.

The expansion also fulfills the city’s General Plan requirements for a City Cemetery:
  • General Plan, Chapter 7: Parks, Recreation, and Open Space

  • Provo City Parks and Recreation Goals
    • Goal 11: Provide a burial park that meets the needs of the citizens in times of bereavement and which also adds to the beauty and dignity of the community

Council Cleans up Organized Fighting Exemptions

At the Council Meeting on May 6, 2014 the Council voted to clarify an ordinance prohibiting organized fighting contests in Provo.

The Council’s action removed an exemption which allowed the Mayor to hold organized fighting contests on city property subject to certain conditions. The Council’s action also clarifies conditions under which permitted educational and instructional events featuring organized fighting may be permitted.

You can read more about the Council’s discussion on this issue here and here.

The modified ordinance may be found here under Chapter 9, subsection 14. You can also review the Council’s new and updated version here.

You can also watch the Council’s Work Meeting discussion on this issue here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Out to Lunch with Council Members

Several months ago, Council Members Kim Santiago and Dave Sewell began holding outreach lunches where members of the public could interact with Council Members on current issues. Council Members will rotate their participation in the lunches in an effort to be inclusive.

The goals of the lunches are to to promote greater Council engagement with the community, to enhance transparency, and provide Council Members an opportunity to gather information and sample public opinion on key issues.

To maintain the informal nature of the lunch meeting, no more than three Council Members may be present. If more than three Members are present, the meeting must be publicly noticed, minutes made and a recording taken. Members of the Council have committed to have no more than three Council Members present at any given lunch to preserve the informality of the meeting.

Members of the public are invited to attend any lunch meeting with Council Members. To be as accommodating as possible, the Council will inform the public of upcoming Council Member lunches with date, place and time on their blog a week in advance of the event.

This week’s coming lunch will be held on Monday, May 19, 2014, moderated by Council Member Gary Winterton at Joe Vera's Restaurant located at 250 W. Center Street, Suite 100 at noon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dollars and Sense

Council receives draft of Provo Budget

The Provo Council acknowledged a receiving a draft of the Mayor’s budget Proposal for the coming year at the Council Meeting on Tuesday May 6, 2014.

The Council will receive input on the draft budget from the Council’s Budget Committee. The draft budget will also be reviewed by Council staff before the Council revisits the issue for a possible formal adoption, tentatively scheduled for a Council Meeting in June.

Council Citizen’s Budget Committee

The Council Citizen’s Budget Committee advises the Provo Municipal Council on financial and budgeting issues. The Committee is chaired by Council Member Kim Santiago and Vice-Chaired by Council Member Gary Winterton. Members of the Committee include the following residents of Provo: Becky Lockheart, Dave Armond, Larry Walters, Jane Carlile, and George Stewart.

You can review the budget for yourself here.

Council will be seeking your input formally on June 3, but please feel free to contact them by either commenting on this article, or reaching out to individual Council Members directly here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Council to Seek Input on BRT

At the Provo Council’s meeting on Tuesday May 6, 2014 the Council voted for a continuation of a reaffirmation of Provo City’s commitment to the locally preferred alternative Bus and Rapid Transit (BRT) route until Council Meeting on June 3, 2014.

The interval will allow the necessary stakeholders such as community members, residents, representatives from BYU and others to convene and discuss any necessary mitigating factors they would like the Provo Council to recommend to the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) for consideration.

If you’d like a brief history of Bus and Rapid Transit (BRT) in Provo, you can read more about the Council’s past actions here, and here.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Council knocks out MMA, cleans up language

At the Council’s Work Meeting on April 29, 2014, the Council voted to bring a proposed modification of a city ordinance to clarify a prohibition of organized Consensual Fighting / Boxing contests in Provo to the regular Council Meeting to be held May 6, 2014.

The Council also recently discussed this issue at the Council Meeting on April 1, 2014. The Council will officially act on this item at their regular Council Meeting on May 6, 2014.

During the discussion, Council Members explored the background of the issue, including questions of violence, community standards, feedback from constituent groups, economic impact, and unintended consequences.

The Council determined that their intent is to remove exemptions to the ordinance which currently permits the Mayor to allow organized fighting events on Provo City owned property, under certain conditions. The Council’s intent also includes issuing clarification to the ordinance regarding educational and instructional events for organized fighting.

The ordinance to be modified may be found here under Chapter 9, subsection 14.  

If you’d like to listen to the Council’s discussion at their April 29 work meeting, you can view the video here.

More details on this issue may also be found in a previous article on the Council’s blog here.