Many city council members expressed their support of the Veteran's Outreach Center at Monday's special council meeting, but more steps have to be taken to make the center a reality.
Hank Thornton, manager of the Legion's Veteran Outreach, approached the city council again in order to lay out his organization's intentions to build an outreach center at the Benewah County Fairgrounds.
Mayor Tom Carver said he thinks a majority of the council supports the idea of building a center for veteran's, but due to what is written in the county's lease contract, the county is the one who needs to request to sublease a portion of the fairgrounds.
“We think what you are doing is awesome,” Mayor Carver said. “But there are some challenges. One of the challenges is under our lease agreement with the county on the fairgrounds area, the county can sublease a portion of the area. The county must request a consent from the city first.”
“We need the county to come and request it not you guys,” attorney Terrun Zolman, who was filling in for city attorney Andrew Doman, added. “It's greatly appreciated that you came to be the face of the program, but the county is the one who has to have the written request.”
“You will be dealing with the county and won't be dealing with us. You'll have a contract with the county, but it will only be under the duration of the lease with the county,” Zolman continued.
Thornton said he and the rest of the outreach center's board are ready to do what it takes to get started on building the center and helping veterans.
“If I need to go back to the county and get a letter we can do that,” Thornton said. “I don't want to go through all of that and come back an have more red tape.”
“Well Hank I don't think there is an issue with the council, I think they are on board,” Mayor Carver said. “But we do need that request from the county that says 'will you give us permission to allow you guys to build it.' I think that will be your next step.”
Some of the issues brought up by the council was the proposed location for the outreach center is the designated area for overflow if the city cemetery has to expand. Mayor Carver said according to the lease contract with the county, the county would have to move any buildings off of that part of the property if the city was to expand its cemetery.
Thornton said the outreach center proposal has garnered a lot of support form the state and he said they hope to get a FEMA building to put on the property which would be easy to move if the city had to expand.
“We are not going to do anything to harm the property. If down the road we have to move the building, we could,” Thornton said. “Even if we can't get the FEMA building, we'll build it in a way that it can be taken a part and moved
Council member Steve Dorendorf expressed his support for the project and for the area's veterans but also asked who was going to pay for the water and sewer hook ups as well as who was going to pay for those expenses monthly.
“We are going to pay it out of our budget. All of our money strictly comes from donations,” Thornton said.
Concerns about a building going into the park was brought up by councilman Randall Sanders.
“Some people thought an office building going into a park, they aren't too keen on that,” Saunders said.
“If you look at the map I gave to the mayor last week, the location is way down almost into the fairground section of that park,” Thornton said. “There is so much park there it would take a long time to fill it down to that building.”
“There are a lot of buildings down there already, it's not all just park,” Dorendorf added.
Councilman Doug Ryan asked about concerns regarding whether or not unstable people would be in the area where there are usually families and if that would be an issue.
“That's a good question and it was something the Fair Board was concerned about too,” Thornton said. “I haven't encountered anyone yet who has been a danger to anyone else other than to themselves.”
Thornton explained the center would be staffed during business hours to intercept anyone who may pose a threat and would be able to contact the local authorities if needed.
Mayor Carver ended by telling Thornton if they are able to get the county to send a request letter before Thursday of this week they will be able to get it on the agenda for next Monday's meeting.
“I'll try my best,” Thornton said.