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Petoskey begins talks on public charging stations for electric vehicles

PETOSKEY – Petoskey could make new public charging stations for electric vehicles available as early as next year.

At their meeting on Monday, Petoskey city council members heard about the possibility of installing up to three hookups in the city allowing hybrid and electric cars to refuel. In particular, the infrastructure would benefit local residents who do not have the parking space or amenities to charge at home.

One of these circumstances earlier this year was a major factor in the city’s efforts to implement the new public facilities. A citizen, who lives in a neighborhood without a garage and requiring the use of on-street parking, bought a hybrid vehicle and wanted to know if he could get permission to either connect an electric wire to his car on the street, or install a station that would allow him to access the power supply to his home from the street, said Mike Robbins, director of public works at Petoskey.

“We discussed it at length and rejected the request, at that time, to put this unit in a public right of way”,

Using a cordon or building a private charging station on the public right-of-way was not both logistical and legal, but Robbins said the request was “not without merit” and that ‘it corresponds to the city’s long-term sustainability objectives. possible public spaces where charging stations could go. Earlier at the same meeting, city council members adopted their “Petoskey habitable” master plan, which contains multiple references to encouraging electric vehicle installations in the region and shifting the city’s fleet to electricity.

“Electric vehicles are coming… which means there is a need for infrastructure in our city. There are charging stations around, there are places these people can go, but we’ll see what we can do to meet that demand, ”Robbins said.

Currently, there is a public electric charging station in the city, located in the Darling Lot, the parking area at the corner of Petoskey and Michigan streets. This was installed in 2017 in conjunction with the city’s Green Corridor Project which built a non-motorized trail along a former rail corridor.

The plan to study and possibly install new stations should be included in both the capital improvement plan and the city’s budget for 2022.

Depending on what the city finds in its preliminary explorations, the objective would be to add a “level 3” charging station in a practical and walkable part of the city, with the possibility of a few “level 2” stations. .

These levels refer to the energy potential of the stations and the usable load range, with level 1 providing 140 volts, level 2 providing 240 volts and level 3 providing a three phase power system ranging from 208 to 480 volts. Level three stations are only compatible with certain high-end vehicle models and can charge vehicles powerful enough in 20 minutes to travel up to 80 miles, compared to 20 miles in 60 minutes for level two stations. But Robbins said the efficiency is getting higher and higher. A Level 3 station would cost approximately $ 40,000 and a Level 2 station would cost approximately $ 7,000.

City officials were not expected to take action on the matter at their Monday meeting, but most city council members spoke positively about the idea.

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Tips to protect your car

Catalytic converter theft, a crime that has been happening for decades, suddenly escalates as thieves take advantage of soaring prices for rare metals in automotive devices.

Before the pandemic, thefts of catalytic converters had become quite rare, averaging just 108 per month in 2018, according to the National Insurnace Crime Bureau, a nonprofit that fights fraud on behalf of the insurance industry. .

This figure rose to 282 per month in 2019 and reached 1,203 in 2020, increasing steadily throughout the year and reaching 2,347 in December.

Catalytic converter theft soars: Metal prices skyrocket, leading to soaring nationwide thefts

Thieves stole nearly 26,000 from January to May 2021, research firm BeenVerified estimated based on an assessment of NICB data and Google search reports. This would translate into a monthly average of over 5,000.

Discover our in-depth story on the rise of catalytic converter theft.

Chicago resident Sam Horvath's 2004 Honda CR-V catalytic converter has been stolen twice during the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently in early July 2021. Since the start of the pandemic, converter thefts Catalysts have skyrocketed nationwide due to shortages or rare metals caused soaring prices that have made devices a particularly enticing target.

How to avoid the theft of the catalytic converter

Catalytic converter theft can happen anywhere, but thieves tend to target vehicles parked in driveways, on the street, or in poorly lit parking lots.

Experts say the best way to protect yourself is to:

• Park your vehicle in a secure garage if you have access to it.

• If you do not have access to a garage, park in a well-lit area or in an area with many people.

“Secure parking is great, but you should definitely park in a well-lit area or on a street with heavy traffic,” said Sgt. Mark Ponegalek, an information officer with the Torrance, Calif., Police Department who was hit hard by the thefts of catalytic converters. “They’re looking for streets where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic so they can get in and out.”

Police in Torrance, Calif., Recovered 87 stolen catalytic converters as part of a three-week effort to crack down on the growing crime in June 2021.

• Consider purchasing an aftermarket device better described as a metal cage that can be installed to cover the catalytic converter, which makes theft more difficult, just like the Club device hooked to a steering wheel makes it more difficult to steal an entire car.

Despite the different steps people can take to protect themselves, Chicago resident Sam Horvath said she still feels helpless enough to avoid it. Thieves have stolen the catalytic converter from his 2004 Honda CR-V parked on the street twice during the pandemic, including in July 2021.

She said that renting an indoor parking space was not financially reasonable for her and that spare devices would cost about as much as her deductible.

“I don’t know exactly what to do,” she said.

You can follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news Monday through Friday mornings.

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JT Burnette Trial Day 5

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – JT Burnette’s corruption, extortion, bank fraud and racketeering trial resumed on Tuesday after a brief hiatus when a juror reported she may have been exposed to coronavirus on Friday.

The unvaccinated juror received a negative test result and it was revealed that the court knew who was and was not vaccinated. They use two different jury rooms to spread out.

Paige Carter-Smith testified again, facing Burnette’s defense attorneys.

During cross-examination, she was asked if she had lied under oath in a 2014 sworn interview with the #Florida Commission on Ethics about a complaint by Scott Maddox. “Yes,” she said.

Carter-Smith said there had been trips to football games and Madison Social with “Sweets” and “Miller” undercover agents.

Previously, she had filed three guilty pleas: honest service mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government, and honest service wire fraud. Carter-Smith said she had met with government officials four times to discuss the case, each meeting lasting two to four hours.

Carter-Smith’s last meeting with government officials took place a week before the trial began.

The government has tabled a motion to reduce Carter-Smith’s sentence for his cooperation. Judge Hinkle will make the final decision.

“As you sit here, they are the sole arbiter of this filed motion,” Kehoc said.

Carter-Smith said the first time money or a check was received from Southern Pines it was not knowingly a ploy.

“At first I didn’t ask enough questions,” she said.

She said she thought it was for Fool’s Chase.

The defense said Carter-Smith provided information about McKibbon and KaiserKane, charges for which she had not been charged.

“We had general conversations the whole time,” Carter-Smith said of his conversation with Scott Maddox, “but nothing specific about it. We have already established that we have an intimate relationship.”

She and Maddox bought “special phones” to communicate.

“I didn’t want my personal life to be open to the world,” Carter-Smith said.

Carter-Smith said she gave Ric Fernandez an old phone and bought new phones for herself, Maddox and her assistant Annie Flemming so their personal conversations wouldn’t be public.

When asked why her old website showed plans for the Floridian Parcel, the official name of the MHG project, Carter-Smith said she was proud of it.

In February 2013, Wes Townson emailed Rick McGraw of the CRA asking to extend the hotel’s deal. The email was then forwarded to Carter-Smith.

Three weeks later, in March 2013, McKibbon still hadn’t told the City that it was planning a hotel, not the original office space and parking lot.

Carter-Smith said at this point that she was not involved and that Townson was having private conversations and was not being honest with the city.

“I didn’t want to hurt McKibbon by having Erwin Jackson shoot me and Governance,” Carter-Smith said. “We knew I wouldn’t be the first president, we wanted Gary [Yordon] to take the lead. He recused himself because he had already had a conflict of interest. Erwin Jackson just raised the temperature in the room for everyone. “

Carter-Smith said Jackson was only part of Zachary Group’s use for McKibbon. Yordon was led to distance the governance of McKibboon by appearances.

On June 7, 2013, a consultation agreement was concluded between McKibboon and Zachary Group.

As of November 2013, Kim Rivers, Burnette and Carter-Smith were all working on a GSA contract.

Yordon spoke, answering questions from the defense about the response from various city officials.

At first, Mayor John Marks did not fully understand the impacts of office space and parking, and some commissioners felt that the initial project would benefit the city more than the hotel.

Andrew Gillum and Gil Ziffer were concerned about securing parking at the Floridian Parcel, believed to have been MHG’s fifth hotel in Tallahassee.

Yordon said the commission asked them to come back with a workable process and McKibbon agreed to pay for the parking lot in hopes of inspiring them to feel more comfortable extending the contract.

“This is a two hour witness,” Judge Hinkle told the defense. “You could have had it done. He’s been there all day. Keep an eye on the ball! What are we trying to do now?

Jansen said a juror was dozing off. The judge replied, “My point exactly.”

Jansen muttered, “Welcome to Tallahassee.

“Prove what you need to prove and remove what you don’t need,” Justice Hinkle said. “You’re going to lose the jury. Get rid of the lint.”





Corruption at the town hall is the scandal that the FBI published on February 5, 2018.

It was at this point that Scott Maddox, who was Tallahassee City Commissioner, and Paige Carter-Smith, who was Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority, were named in the affidavits of the search warrants.

These documents say, through a consultancy firm called Governance, that they were paid to vote for various groups pushing to settle in Tallahassee.

Maddox called the claims false a week later.

In December of that year, federal prosecutors found enough to charge him with 44 counts, including bribery, extortion, bank fraud and racketeering.

A day later, former Governor Rick Scott suspended Maddox. Carter Smith has also stepped down from his role.

Not finished with the players on hand, prosecutors indicted Tallahassee businessman JT Burnette on May 9, 2019.

In August of the same year, Maddox and Carter Smith pleaded guilty. The plea deal only covered three counts: two for extortion and one for tax evasion. Thirty-nine of the charges were dropped as a result of this plea deal.

On the same day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a new statewide division made up of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, agents from the FBI, IRS, and the Department of Justice to crack down on all forms of crime. corruption in government.

After three delays, JT Burnette is now on trial.

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Bangor City Council approves ordinance allowing more housing units

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – The city of Bangor voted on Friday to approve an ordinance that will result in the construction of more housing units in the city.

The updated ordinance reduces the lot size for each unit, including a drop from two parking spaces per unit to one.

City council members say the additional parking space is not needed due to the pedestrian nature of the affected neighborhoods.

The ordinance is a first step in helping meet the city’s goal of creating more housing units near the Bangor business district.

“So really what we’re trying to do is encourage the redevelopment and construction of new buildings in dense, pedestrianized neighborhoods,” said Tanya Emery, director of community and economic development for Bangor. “We are grateful to see a continuous and constant flow of these small redevelopment projects, and then we have engaged with the developers on a number of larger housing projects, which we hope will come to fruition here in Bangor,” and provide some of that much needed housing inventory that we know people are clamoring for.

One of these projects could include adding new units to an existing building on Ohio Street. These proposals flow from the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Task Force.

Copyright 2021 WABI. All rights reserved.

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The agenda: briefs from local governments for 19.19.21

A map of the 334 acre The Aire site in Westchester, just west of Westchester Commons on Route 288 and Midlothian Turnpike. (Courtesy of Chesterfield County)

Proposed 334 acre mixed-use development adjacent to Westchester Commons

The Chesterfield Planning Commission is due to meet on Tuesday. Full agenda here.

Commissioners are expected to assess a rezoning application from GrayCo Properties that would pave the way for a 334-acre mixed-use development by HHHunt Communities called The Aire in Westchester, in the Magisterial District of Midlothian.

The development would be adjacent to Westchester Commons, which itself is slated for an infill residential project. The Area at Westchester would rise north of Midlothian Turnpike, west of Highway 288 and Watkins Center Drive, and east of Huguenot Springs Road.

The development would include townhouses, single-family homes and apartments, with the total number of proposed residential units of 2,215 units. The development would also include 200,000 square feet of commercial space.

A conceptual site plan of how the GRTC temporary transfer station would be set up in the city-owned parking lot. (Courtesy of the City of Richmond)

Provisional GRTC transfer station on the town planning agenda on Monday

The Richmond Planning Commission meets at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. Business on the agenda includes the review of a planned temporary GRTC transfer station in the city-owned parking lot between Eighth and Ninth Streets and between Leigh and Clay Streets.

The relocation of the current layout to Ninth Street would make way for the redevelopment of the Public Security Building site, where a 20-story tower and a mixed-use office complex are planned.

The transfer station is expected to be in place for up to 10 years. The 64 public parking spaces on the lot would be removed and municipal government spaces would be reduced from 199 to 34. A dozen street spaces along Eighth Street would also be affected, and seven spaces are expected to remain.

Also on the agenda is a special use request for a proposed art gallery at 205 W. Brookland Park Blvd. Full agenda here.

‘Greater Scott’s Addition’, zoning changes north of Fan advance

At its previous meeting on July 6, the city’s Planning Commission voted to recommend the proposed zoning changes for the “Greater Scott’s Addition” area and properties along the Pulse Corridor generally north of Broad Street from of the Fan district.

The commission suspended for six months a review of Richmond’s year-old rules to regulate short-term home rentals in the city. The commission now plans to review the rules in January.

Hanover County to Begin Full Plan Review

Hanover County is expected to soon begin its regular process of reviewing and updating its comprehensive plan, which is the county’s long-term roadmap for development, land use and growth.

A review of the Strategic Zoning Initiative policy, as well as solar farm policies, agri-food policies, mixed-use zoning, housing and development plans for specific corridors in the county are among the focus points. departure that county staff identified for updating the plan. planning director David Maloney told county supervisors during an introductory presentation on the effort last month.

At this point, it is difficult to say which elements of the plan could be changed. The review process will be informed by feedback gathered from county officials and county residents.

The county plans to field a consultant by early October to help them with their last regular review of their comprehensive plan, and that consultant will work alongside a traffic consultant in the review, Maloney told BizSense on July 9th. The county has allocated $ 300,000 to hire. design offices for the exam.

In November, the Planning Commission and the Oversight Board will meet to agree on housing demographics and trends and land use analysis to inform the review. The public engagement period is scheduled for fall and winter 2021 and 2022. Preliminary recommendations are expected by spring 2022, with early adoption of the updated plan by winter 2023.

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Publix to anchor East San Marco Mall in Jacksonville

Residents waited about 18 years for the first shovelful to be turned on the construction of the East San Marco shopping center anchored by a new Publix supermarket built on top of a parking lot.

The project – which also includes a separate Publix liquor store, Orangetheory fitness center, and other retail stores – is well underway at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard in historic San Marco in Jacksonville.

“The provisional opening date is scheduled for the end of the second quarter [second quarter] of 2022, ”Chris Norberg, community relations manager for the Jacksonville division of Publix, said in an email to The Times-Union.

Dirt moves in East San Marco: Beginning of the first work on the project after 18 years of waiting

Publix is ​​coming: Supermarket, parking structure in East San Marco

Norberg declined to comment on the supermarket’s planned amenities.

Previously released plans show the 38,294-square-foot supermarket will be above a first-floor parking garage. Escalators will take shoppers to the grocery store.

Construction is well advanced on Publix which will anchor the East San Marco shopping center at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

Publix officials said in 2019 that the East San Marco store would be the first in Jacksonville built above a parking structure. But there are several with a similar design in the supermarket chain’s multi-state service area, they said.

Eric Davidson, a spokesperson for developer Regency Centers, told The Times-Union that construction on the project is going well.

“We are still on schedule to complete our construction after the summer of next year,” he said. “At this point, we will then hand over our spaces to our new tenants, who can then update how long their construction will take. ”

New movie theaters:Cinemark 14 takes center stage in Jacksonville’s new mall

Update:Aging and obsolete Roosevelt Square turns into modern Ortega Park

Update:RH Jacksonville Brings Luxury Home Goods and Rooftop Restaurants to Downtown St. Johns

Right now, the concrete block is rising, but there is still a lot of work to be done, Davidson said, noting that despite the weather and the COVID-19 pandemic “we are still on schedule.”

Davidson said Regency Centers is in talks with potential tenants and concepts to join Publix and Orangetheory in East San Marco, but nothing has been finalized and ready to announce.

Construction of the new East San Marco shopping center anchored by the Publix supermarket is well underway at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

The project has been in operation since the early 2000s. The recession as well as the withdrawal of a residential development partner were among the factors cited over the years for the repeated delays.

Finally, a groundbreaking ceremony held on February 16 kicked off construction.

In addition to the supermarket, the project also includes a 1,430 square foot Publix liquor store and another 18,800 square foot “shell” retail or restaurant space for other tenants, according to building permits. and project plans.

An architectural drawing shows the East San Marco shopping center project on Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

Publix East of San Marco

  • Address: 2039 avenue Hendricks, at the intersection of avenue Hendricks and boulevard Atlantic
  • Publix Planned Completion: Second Quarter 2022
  • Estimated overall completion of the shopping center: summer 2022
  • Total estimated initial cost: $ 9.7 million
  • Site area: 3.25 acres
  • Tenants with signed leases: Publix and Orangetheory Fitness
  • State of construction: exterior concrete block walls are in place and infrastructure work is underway
  • Developer: Regency Centers
  • Contractor: Construction J. Raymond
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Kozhikode’s multi-level parking projects in limbo

The proposals for improving the city’s car parks are still lagging behind without any notable progress in carrying out the allocated works. Although private agencies in the parking sector take advantage of the laxity, the Kozhikode Corporation and the district administration remain indifferent to the plight of motorists.

Two multi-level parking projects, one along Railway Station Link Road and the other at Kidson Corner, have yet to show signs of completion in the near future. Work on the first project near Link Road has been underway for more than five years. The project was delayed even after the second round of the foundation stone ceremony.

“Although the project along Link Road was to accommodate 700 cars and 800 motorcycles, it could still be a pipe dream,” said Mohammed Rizwan, a local trader. He said the roadside space near Link Road has been converted to the city’s largest illegal parking space in the absence of other options.

With the vehicle ban on SM Street, store owners and customers find it difficult to use the private space available inside the street. Although one of the main parking lots on the street is open, restricted entry from the main entrance continues to be a barrier for many. Public parking in the area has been planned as a solution to the problem.

“The plan was to build a 7,579 m² parking lot at an estimated cost of 45.43 crore. No one currently knows the status of this high profile proposal, ”said Rajendran Chenakkal, a trader. He said there was chaos in the area with the illegal parking of vehicles on the side of the road.

Meanwhile, some company officials said the lack of funds affected the completion of many of the payment and parking facilities on offer, including the one planned near the EMS stadium. The pandemic crisis coupled with the shortage of funds was derailing many similar infrastructure development projects in the city, they added.

At the same time, the delay in the construction of public car parks has given a boost to many private entrepreneurs in the field. They now charge hourly rates without following official rules. Many operators do not even ensure the safety of vehicles in such parking spaces. The call to introduce some uniformity in parking prices has also gone unanswered.

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Wooster Barn reassembled for a new gallery at the Buckeye Agriculture Museum

WOOSTER – Log by log and beam by beam, the Buckeye Agriculture Museum and Education Center has recreated one of Ohio’s oldest barns for its new gallery which will open at the fair.

The two-story bank barn was originally located on the property where the Wooster High School and Follis Field are located. It was dismantled by a group interested in preserving the agricultural history of Wayne County shortly after the Buchholz family sold the property to schools in the town of Wooster in 1992.

From the farm, parts of the barn have been stored in several maintenance garages over the past 30 years. The surviving pieces finally reached the museum parking lot in May, ready to be reassembled inside the facility across from the Wayne County Fairgrounds.

Reconstruction of the Buchholz barn:A dismantled barn stored for more than 30 years finds new life at the Buckeye Agricultural Museum

Ron Grosjean and Paul Locher hold one of the original planks that were used on a barn extension built in 1830. The barn was originally built in 1814 by David Billman.

The museum rebuilt nearly half of the barn inside its third gallery space, keeping almost the original 60-foot width but only building half the 30-foot depth and reducing the height of the barn of four logs.

The barn exhibit and other exhibits will be open to the public when the Wayne County Fair opens on September 11.

Wayne County Fair:Grandstand entertainment returns to Wayne County Fair

The gallery will also include a working Russell steam engine

A Russell steam engine sits in the parking lot of the Buckeye Agriculture Museum, waiting to operate again in the new gallery. The steam engine will run on compressed air. Ron Grosjean, a member of the Friends of Wayne County Fair, plans to have the steam engine running by the time of the fair.

Ron Grosjean, a member of the Friends of Wayne County Fair, stands in front of a log-built loft from the Buchholz barn which will display old farm equipment.

Additional logs from the barn have been used to create a loft across the room where antique farm equipment will be on display. The wall panels under the loft were hewn from a bald cypress tree that stood where the Wayne County Event Center was built.

The floor under the right side of the reconstructed barn is from the first frame house built in Wayne County. The house stood in downtown Wooster Square and was built as an office for Resin Beall in the early 1800s. It was later moved to the corner of Grant and South streets.

The flooring installed under the right side of the barn is from one of the original houses built in Wooster for Resin Beall.

Paul Locher, curator of the Buckeye Agriculture Museum, saved the floor of the house before it was demolished.

On the back wall of the barn, local artist Kristin Lorson will paint a mural that will describe what the landscape would have looked like across the walkway and down to the pasture when the barn was built in 1814. Lorson painted the painting mural outside the museum along West Old Lincoln Way.

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San Francisco parklets are here to stay, but supes say they can close overnight

Outdoor parklets for restaurants and businesses are here to stay as part of San Francisco’s post-pandemic cityscape.

The supervisory board on Tuesday approved an amended version of the ordinance regulating the shared spaces program to allow most small businesses to continue using public sidewalks and parking spaces to bolster their operations – and to close those spaces at night.

Supervisors were divided over whether to let businesses shut down parks overnight. Supporters of the parklet closures said keeping them open would place a responsibility on business owners to clean the spaces of any nighttime mess or deal with noise from people using the spaces after hours. Supporters of keeping parklets open overnight said they wanted to preserve public space for public use.

Supervisor Ahsha Safaí presented two last-minute amendments on Tuesday to allow companies to close parks overnight and keep the program running within the planning department, which has issued park permits throughout the pandemic. , instead of moving the operation to public works. Both amendments were adopted, with night-time closing times set from midnight to 7 a.m.

“This program is one of the lasting legacies and a positive direction for our city,” said Safaí. “The biggest complaints were when people used these spaces after hours. It is more difficult to defend these spaces if they remain open 24 hours a day.

Supervisors Safaí, Matt Haney, Rafael Mandelman, Gordon Mar, Myrna Melgar and Catherine Stefani voted to allow companies to close parks overnight.

Haney, who represents the inner city neighborhoods most affected by homelessness and outdoor drug use, said business owners in his neighborhood told him leaving parklets open overnight would present ” significant challenges “. He was concerned that companies could be held responsible for issues like a crowd selling drugs in a parklet.

“Requiring them to stay open overnight would make them impractical for many of the small businesses that I represent,” Haney said.

Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Connie Chan, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted that parklets should be open to everyone overnight to preserve space removed from the public.

“We are starting this incredible program that has changed the landscape of San Francisco,” said Ronen. “We are giving up an extraordinary amount of public space to accommodate private businesses, as I think we should, but in return, I think the public should be given as much access as possible.”

The law obliges companies to add a public bench near or in the parklet.

In recent months, the parklet program has come under scrutiny as elected officials question how to regulate the hundreds of outdoor spaces that have provided a lifeline for small businesses during the pandemic. In particular, the members of the board of directors sought to ensure that the parklets are accessible to people with disabilities and discussed the permanent privatization of public space.

At one point, the Mayor of London Breed threatened to put the parklet program on the ballot if the board did not pass it.

Family businesses will benefit from a two-year fee waiver for the program to help with economic recovery. Fees range from $ 1,000 to $ 3,000 for a single parking spot, depending on the type of park, and will be required for chain formula stores.

Some business owners were happy to hear that the program they saw as a lifeline would continue.

“I’m exuberant right now,” said Ben Bleiman, founder of the SF Bar Owner Alliance representing 475 bar owners in the city. “This is the biggest positive change for small businesses in my 20 years in San Francisco. “

Bleiman set up parklets at his two bars – Soda Popinski’s in Nob Hill and Teeth in the Mission – whenever he could. The outdoor space was “life or death” at the Nob Hill location, he said, because without it he couldn’t have reopened the bar.

Bleiman was grateful for the last-minute amendment allowing businesses to close their parks at night, arguing that even city parks do not stay open all night.

“I thought that was the recipe for disaster,” he said. “The downsides were extremely obvious. We have an epidemic of clean streets, homelessness, and city crime and safety right now around our trade corridors. Having to keep them open at night would have been a beacon for this activity which would have put small businesses in direct conflict with our neighbors. “

Bleiman did not understand the argument that parklets privatized public space, especially when they occupied parking spaces. He stressed that there would always be enough space on the sidewalks for people, including the disabled or the elderly, to pass.

Shirley To, owner of Bottoms Up Bar and Lounge on Mission Street near the Excelsior, had mixed feelings about the plan to make the parklets permanent. Last year, the parklet she built in August allowed her to keep her business open.

But she had issues, including homeless people using the parklet “like a house” and letting her clean up the space, she said. And in May, a drunk driver slammed into the parking lot late at night, digging a hole in the wall and bumping into a nearby homeless person. With the repairs, she ended up paying over $ 8,000 for the parklet.

She still has the parklet in place but doesn’t use it much, she said, as her guests prefer to be indoors near the TV and out of the wind and cold. She said she would give him another chance when the weather warms up.

“I’m still a little worried about this,” she said.

JK Dineen and Mallory Moench are the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle. Emails: [email protected] [email protected] Twitter: @sfjkdineen @mallorymoench

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City of Billings leaders move closer to purchase of Stillwater Building

BILLINGS – With a 10-1 vote on Monday night, Billings City Council gave the mayor the power to sign a buy / sell agreement, signaling the city’s intention to purchase the Stillwater building with possible plans to build the space of a center of law and justice.

“This idea is a long-term investment. It’s not just about kick-starting another problem that another board will have to address in 10 or 15 years,” said Kendra Shaw, member. of the council, which represents district 1.

Alaska-based WC Commercial LLC currently owns the building, walkway, and nearby parking across North 26th Street.

Once Mayor Bill Cole officially signs the document, the city will have 60 days to do their due diligence to inspect the building for any issues that may cause city staff or council to reconsider their decision. . September 15 is the date scheduled for the city to close the deal.

MTN News / Mitch Lagge

Members of Billings City Council are discussing the possible purchase of the Stillwater building to add more room to city services at their Monday night meeting.

The city negotiated a price of $ 17 million for the building and its land. Construction was estimated at an additional $ 10 million and could take between three and four years. The construction price does not include the cost of furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Part of the money to buy the building would come from $ 20 million of money freed up from the general fund. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city paid for part of its public safety services using federal COVID-19 relief dollars from the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, freeing up money from the general fund to spend on other things.

The Stillwater Building was originally built in 1960 and was once a federal courthouse. The building has five floors, a basement with parking and an underground access for the transport of prisoners.

The idea of ​​the purchase is to have a central location for all of the City of Billings services. The Planning and Community Development Department, Zoning Department, Code Enforcement Department, Building Division, Public Works, City Court, and Police Department could all be located under the roof of the Stillwater Building at over the next few years if the city agrees to buy the property.

City services are currently spread over three sites in the city center. After a tour of the current city hall, council member Mike Boyett said everyone was too crowded for space.

“It is not (handicapped accessible). When I broke my ankle, I had a hard time walking through this building. There are people in the cupboards. There are people in the boiler room. Yes, there’s another building in Billings, but let’s let all the kids play in one place. Let’s make room for expansion, “Boyett said.

City administrator Chris Kukulski said the plan would first be to address the immediate need for a legal and judicial center. Then other departments could move in as leases expire on their current spaces over the next two years.

“We are also renting out several different spaces in the city center. We are tenants today of several of our office services and this is money that taxpayers are paying and will not pay anymore,” Kukulski said. .


MTN News / Mitch Lagge

The front side of the Stillwater Building in downtown Billings which is connected to the Stillwater Parking Garage across North 26th Street via an overhead bridge.

The city would occupy only about two floors of the Stillwater Building and would have the option of leasing the remaining space. Kukulski said the goal would be to get state or federal law-related services located in the building.

“My interest is not to go out and compete per se and try to book retail operations or other operations in this building. It is to put other local government departments or state departments or federal services that complement the local government services we provide, ”Kukulski mentioned.

The Yellowstone County government already occupies 7,000 square feet of office space on the third floor of the building. The county pays approximately $ 365,000 per year to lease space at WC Commercial. The lease ends in 2025.

Kukulski mentioned that the Yellowstone County Council of Commissioners recently took a 2-1 vote to sign a buy / sell agreement to purchase the Miller Building at 301 N 29th St.

“They are one of our most likely tenants. If they determine that they are going to move out after 2025, long before we know that answer,” Kukulski said.

The need for more space for municipal government was first identified after the completion of a facilities master plan in 2015. Over the past 18 months, the city has entered into negotiations regarding the Stillwater Building. As a price was not agreed, negotiations turned to evaluations.

Jessica Iverson, City Construction Manager and Facilities Manager, provided the background to the assessments. Elkhorn Appraisal valued the building at $ 22 million and NVC Appraisal at $ 12 million, Iverson said. An evaluator-reviser was then called upon to analyze the methods of the other evaluators. Review appraiser Dave Thomas valued the building at $ 13.5 million.

“What determination of market value the review appraiser seeks to find is based on a typical buyer or investor in the market. This does not take into account the value of the specific benefits that the city has. The negotiating committee took this into account during negotiations to determine the price with the seller and concluded that the building has greater value to the city than the review’s assessment suggests, which is why a price The higher purchase price was offered to the seller, ”Iverson said.

With the price tag of $ 17 million, the city would purchase the building for $ 85 / square foot. Much less than the $ 375 / square foot it would cost to build a new building.

Council member Shaun Brown said he was concerned that the city was paying more than appraised value and disliked the possibility that a majority of the building would remain vacant if the city could not find space. tenants.

“Is this going to sit empty for years? I’m struggling with this, but I’m working really hard to support this as an opportunity we wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it’s still $ 4 million So I’m fighting with that, but I will support it, ”Brown said.

Ward 4 representative Penny Ronning, a council member, was the only one to vote against approving the buy / sell agreement. Ronning said she supported the move to the Stillwater Building, that there was not enough public commentary on how the city should spend the money freed up thanks to the federal government.

“I don’t think that’s good government the way this process has worked,” Ronning said.

071221 Penny Ronning.jpg

MTN News / Mitch Lagge

Penny Ronning, a member of Billings City Council, who represents Ward 4, shares her position on the Stillwater Building buy / sell agreement with council.

“Not a single request to the public on how the public wants to use this money. Not a single presentation on our options for using this money. Could we build an 8 fire station, where 40,000 Billings Heights members could actually be? served with additional fire departments? What else could we use this money for in terms of public safety services where our crime is so high it’s unbelievable. I don’t dispute that we need it? ‘additional space for the town hall. I do not dispute that we need the space of the center of law and justice, I do not disagree with that at all, but I do not agree with the fact that it is the only option that is even given to us and presented by our municipal administration for the use of these funds, ”Ronning added.

RELATED: Billings Could Buy $ 17 Million Stillwater Building for Law and Justice Center.

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