by A.C. Hall
The White Settlement Economic Development Corporation held their first meeting of 2014 last week. One item of outstanding business was the approval of financial assistance for a Scottish Inn hotel that will be built near the gun store along West Freeway. The amount of assistance is set at $275,000. The EDC budgeted for this project, and it is the second hotel from the same builder. This builder is also responsible for the hotel next to Flight Deck, which should open in April. That hotel also received $275,000 in financial assistance from the EDC.
A public hearing on this item was held, but with none present wishing to speak it was closed. The EDC then unanimously approved the project.
EDC Director Jim Ryan said the EDC won’t financially assist on any further hotels.
“This is our last hurrah for hotels,” Ryan said.
After the Scottish Inn, the next five hotels that open in the city will fall under the Hawaiian Falls agreement. This states that Hawaiian Falls receives one hundred percent of the hotel occupancy tax from the next five hotels to help pay off their bond. Ryan said that if any more hotels come, it will be because of Hawaiian Falls.
Later in the evening, the White Settlement City Council unanimously approved the first reading of this financial assistance project, which is part of the ongoing process to fully approve the project.
Ryan gave many updates on businesses within the city, one of them being the Williamson HVAC building that is nearly complete on White Settlement Road.
“It’s one example of taking a building, an old building that was somewhat of an eyesore, even though it was a novelty place for a while, but now it’s gonna look a lot better,” Ryan said. “We’re gonna have a business right there on White Settlement Road.”
This business was discussed more later in the meeting, when Ryan informed the board that Williamson HVAC had applied for a Business Improvement Grant. He stated that they are seeking the maximum grant of $35,000.
“It’s a great improvement to the neighborhood and especially to a commercial area of our city,” Ryan said. “It’s a good step to take.”
EDC unanimously approved the BIG grant application
Another business Ryan spoke about was the Region 11 Schools building, which is located at the old Sam’s building. They are anticipating a June/July completion date for the work on the building, and will spend the rest of the year setting up and moving in.
City Manager Linda Ryan gave a financial update to the EDC, and shared some positive news about sales tax income. “The sales tax is up 7.92 percent from last year,” Linda Ryan said. “We’re going back up, we’re hoping.”
Linda Ryan also informed the EDC that the $3 million Central Park project has been completely finished and paid for.
New EDC meeting day
EDC Director Jim Ryan spoke about possibly changing when the EDC meets. Traditionally the EDC met on the Thursday at the end of each month, but Ryan explained his belief that they would be better off holding their meetings on the same day as City Council. Reasons given for this included their tendency to work closely with council, a more streamlined meeting schedule for staff and board/council members, and avoiding interfering with holiday schedules late in the year. EDC unanimously approved the change, and now EDC meetings will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Council meetings will follow at 7:00 p.m.
A new vendor for the concessions at Veterans Park was unanimously selected. Leisure Foods will take over in February as the current vendor informed the city they did not wish to continue at the location. The city will see a 25 percent return on sales from the vendor, which will be under a 12 month contract. Staff was in favor of Leisure Foods and spoke highly of their experience and recommendations.
Attendance for EDC members to the upcoming White Settlement Area Chamber of Commerce banquet was unanimously approved. The banquet this year will have a fiesta theme and what was called more of a “party atmosphere” by Chamber of Commerce member and EDC board member Steve Groomer. White Settlement Parks and Recreation Director Rich Tharp will be honored at the banquet as the Public Servant of the Year.