Tuesday’s City Council meeting brought a completely packed house, with over 130 in attendance. But it wasn’t filled with locals concerned about the new library proposal or sale of land around Exit 118. No, it was out of town residents who claim to visit Mesquite for its location adjacent to Gold Butte.
The item on the agenda was to discuss the council’s position on existing resolutions that showed support for turning Gold Butte into an NCA, or National Conservation Area. The existing Resolutions, #649 and #669 have been in effect since October 2009 when signed by then-Mayor Susan Holecheck. Five and a half years have passed without changes to the area, and with the recent developments with the Bureau of Land Management, city staff determined that it would be good to bring the resolutions back to council to discuss. There was no mention in the materials that any action would be taken, but the possibility was there.
For more than 90 minutes, attendees stood up and spoke for three minutes, sometimes more, of why they want Gold Butte protected and what it means to them. Some even went so far as to threaten that they would never come back to Mesquite if the council were to overturn the resolutions.
But then there was one tall gentleman who stood up and spoke his opposition to making Gold Butte an NCA. Brian Haviland, a member of the Bunkerville Town Board stated that “The BTAB is against wanting to have an NCA dedication in our area. The Gold Butte area is within the Bunkerville Township, it is our town… we do not feel it will help us.” He was one of only a few who spoke in opposition of the support.
After the comments were finished each council member stated their position and concerns, most citing that they don’t have a problem with the NCA portion on protection, but more with the wilderness aspect. That section allows for some unclear lines and undesirable regulations that would hurt those who want to enjoy the area.
Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to rescind the two resolutions once a new resolution with more specific details was approved, potentially at the next meeting.
Other business of Tuesday’s meeting included approving talks with the Library District in how to proceed with building a new library at 105 W Mesquite Boulevard. Dr. Ronald Heezen, the Library District’s Executive Director, was in attendance and stated that building the new 16,000 square foot library could be the boost that the city needs to bounce back from the recession. The land, which was purchased for $1.7 million dollars in 2009, is now only worth about $500,000. With it being empty, it’s considered one of the ‘eye sores’ of the town.
If things move along with the city and the Library District, the new $7 million library could be finished in as little as 1 ½ years. Heezen noted that newer libraries usually see a 200% increase in usage and that both the old and new buildings would be staffed by the district through their Outreach Services Division. He also noted that there are many possibilities for the design of the new building, which the community may have some part of. For now, though, it looks like more talking is in store. With Councilman Rich Green’s motion to approve, the rest of the council approved 5 – 0 to move forward with the talks.
The council also approved a new employment agreement with City Manager Andy Barton, which would increase his salary by 6% over a two-year period, or $3450 per year. Cited in the agenda materials, “there are sufficient funds in this year’s CMO budget to accommodate this expense. This will be a budgeted expense for fiscal year 2015-2016.” This is Barton’s first raise since he was hired in April 2012, and there would be no changes to his benefits or duties.
The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28 at 5 p.m. Among agenda materials, were public notices of a City Council Budget Workshop on May 13 and 14 at 3 p.m. each day at City Hall and public comments will be accepted at those times. A copy of the tentative budget will be on file at the City Clerk and Treasurer’s offices as well as the City’s website at www.mesquitenv.gov. A formal Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at Council Chambers.