Blanding City Council approves banquet at Wellness Center, approves contact for master plan

The Blanding City Council approved an event at the city wellness center, approved a contract for a parks master plan, and moved forward on a new airport policy in their last two meetings.
In a special February 10 City Council meeting, the council approved use of the city wellness center to host the annual Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) banquet on March 22.
The annual banquet has been hosted in the wellness center for many years, with the 2021 banquet hosting more than 500 guests.
The city previously denied the SFW request to hold the banquet in the wellness center.
At two recent council meetings, the San Juan County representative for the SFW, Tiffany Dalton, asked the council to reconsider the application. 
The wellness center does not have a sprinkler fire suppression system and the building can accommodate only 299 people. Prior to 2021, the city was not aware of the resttriction. The occupancy maximum changed in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, wich was when the city staff was made aware of the 299 maximum. 
City Manager David Johnson visited with the state fire marshal, city insurance company, and city attorney.
According to the fire marshal, the large event would violate fire code. The city insurance company claimed the city would have no defense if any incident occurred. The city attorney advised against allowing the event. 
Johnson claimed the building can accommodate 1,400 people with a proper fire suppression system. He added that the current fire alert system doesn’t match the schematics in the blueprint. 
Councilmember Cheryl Bowers asked if the SFW could sign a waiver assuming all risks. Johnson said he asked specifically about that option and was informed that waivers rarely hold up in court. 
Because it was not an action item on the February 3 agenda, the council could not pass any motion allowing the event to take place. 
This triggered the February 10 meeting specifically to address the SFW banquet.
Councilmember Erik Grover motioned to allow SFW to hold the banquet in the wellness center with a firetruck and ambulance present and capacity limited to 550 – the number listed on the application.
The motion passed with Bowers, Grover, and Kellen Nielson voting in favor, Kd Perkins voting against, and Len Gasser abstaining.
On February 8, the council renewed and amended contracts and discussed commercial policies for the airport. 
According to staff reports, there is interest in establishing a flight school at the Blanding City Airport.
Johnson explained that there are currently no commercial use policies in place at the airport and requested that the council deliberate and provide direction for a policy draft that will be presented at a later meeting.
A commercial policy allows the city to charge fees for tie-downs, hangar use, car parking, per landing, and any other commercial use. The city currently charges $100 a month to rent a hangar.
According to staff reports, other airports charge between $500 and $1000 a month for hangars. 
Airports often charge a per landing fee to cover the cost to maintain the landing strip. Johnson explained that other airports with a flight school usually charge a landing fee because of the heavy use of the landing strip. 
Now, the city charges no fees aside from the monthly cost of a hangar. Mayor Logan Monson expressed concern that a landing fee would dissuade pilots from using the Blanding airport to purchase fuel. 
The council deliberated and agreed to make the policy simple, with minimum fees, and allow for a flight school. There was no official action to be taken. The staff will draft a policy and present to the council at a later date. 
The council renewed a five year contract with Armstrong Consultant Engineers. Armstrong has been the consulting engineer for the airport for more than 20 years. The motion to renew the contract passed unanimously.
At the previous meeting on January 25, the council approved contracts with Blaisdell Church and Johnson and Infiniteam Legal Solutions. The city contracted Blaisdell Church and Johnson to cover civil matters, and Infiniteam Legal Services to cover criminal prosecution for the city. 
Aaron Nielson of Infiniteam has since found he has a conflict of interest and is unable to be the criminal prosecutor for the city.
The council approved an amended contract with Blaisdell Church and Johnson to include criminal prosecution. The hourly fee of $150 did not change. 
Pratt Redd presented a resolution to renew the contract with Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA) as the primary vendor for the Blanding Visitor Center.  
Redd explained that staff created criteria agreed upon by the council in a previous meeting. CNHA and Bear Skins Custom Ink applied for the contract. According to the criteria, CNHA had a score of 35 while Bear Skins had a score of 23. 
Redd recommended the council renew the contract with CNHA but stated Bear Skins Custom Ink has expressed interest in creating and providing Blanding-branded apparel.
Perkins made a motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Nielson. Perkins, Nielson, and Gasser voted in favor. Bowers and Grover voted against.
The council approved a contract with Blu Line Designs to create a new Comprehensive Parks, Recreation, Trails & Open Space Master Plan. The city will pay Blu Line Designs $49,058 for the new master plan. 

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