With the help of a folder of information about the Hotel Pawnee, the city council unanimously approved an historical designation Tuesday for the eight-story, 1929 downtown building.The information was supplied by Kaycee Anderson of the city historical commission and officially declares the Pawnee a city historical site.
The historical commission voted 4-0 on Oct. 15 to recommend the designation.
Anderson, who is a research librarian at the public library, put the information together with help from the Bulletin.
The hotel is already on the national list of historic places. The city designation gives the historical commission a chance to review any proposed demolitions of the building. This is a preemptive move, as there are no known plans to demolish the hotel.
The hotel officially closed Sept. 1 for the first time in its history.
The building was an assisted living home for 20 years. Former executive director Sandy Schade recently told the Bulletin that it is for sale. She said at least two buyers have expressed interest, but did not specify.
The city historical designation allows city council to review any demolition application before a permit would be issued.
Demolition costs were briefly discussed. In response to a general question from councilman Brook Baker about the cost, North Platte's contracted engineer Tom Werblow said the only reference he had was the demolition of the old Waltemath building at Sixth and Jeffers, which cost about $250,000 for destruction.
That cost also covered repaving. It was a two-story building with wood framing.
The Pawnee is built entirely of brick and concrete.
Werblow said "it would be very expensive" to demolish the Pawnee.
Councilman Larry Campbell said he was happy with the designation and that Anderson did a good job of informing the council and councilman Jim Carman gave her a thumbs up signal.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council also unanimously authorized the issuance of various purpose bonds in the principal amount of $6.2 million.
These bonds replace temporary financing for improvements in street, paving, water and sanitary districts, city administrator Jim Hawks said. The big project financed by the warrants is the Buffalo Bill Ave. extension, as well as a number of other projects in North Platte that have been approved and are complete.
The council authorized the bonds without objections.
Bruce Lefler with Ameritas Investment Corporation said the bonds allow the permanent financing of outstanding notes and retire the city’s outstanding warrants, which are temporary financing.
Also, the council approved an annual operating agreement with Borges Enterprises, LLC, doing business as Regional Recycling.
The vote was 7-1, with councilman Brook Baker voted no.
The agreements include equipment leases with Borges, and the city also agreed to pay Regional Recycling $40 a ton for the recyclable materials.
The agreement prompted discussion.
Councilman Andrew Lee asked why the lease should be renewed when Borges might come before the city again in need of a grant, or “another bail out.” Lee was referring to a $66,000 quality growth fund grant a year ago that kept Regional Recycling going, especially in regard to expenses connected with the processing materials in curbside containers.
But that grant is not part of the annual equipment lease of sorting and baling equipment that is owned by the city. Regional Recycling needs the equipment to operate curbside recycling. The city purchased the equipment three years ago with a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
Councilman Brook Baker asked if the city couldn’t operate the program as cheaply.
Hawks said that would be difficult, because employees would receive city wages and benefits, which are on a higher scale, and there would be substantial costs to create a place for the equipment and move it.
During the discussion, Borges said he is barely breaking even because the price of recyclables continues to be relatively low. He said he might have to lay off a couple employees.
In other action, the council:
• Awarded a contract to Plum Creek Motors of Lexington for three 2014 Chevrolet Impalas for the police department for $68,908. Jerry Remus of North Platte was the second lowest bidder at $69,968.
• Approve an application by Christine Herrick/Yellow rose of Curtis for a special designated license on Jan. 11, 2014 from 5 p.m. to midnight. at the D&N Event Center for a wedding reception.
• Send the application of Bailey’s American Cuisine Lounge for a catering and a class C liquor license to the Liquor Control Commission with no recommendation, as is customary. Bailey’s will open soon in the new Nebraskaland Bank building.
• Agreed to remove Vicki Winder from the library advisory board and approved the mayor’s appointment of Mary Ann Agler to replace her.
• Approved the mayor’s appointment of Larry Biss to the RSVP (retired senior volunteers) board, replacing Dallis Dye.
Bulletin editor George Lauby contributed to this report.