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Council approves two grants

| November 16, 2004 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

The Libby City Council on Monday approved a $145,000 grant to the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce along with a $15,000 grant to fund plans for a public swimming pool.

The chamber grant will fund a variety of improvements at the organization¹s visitor center, including $50,000 for an electronic reader board designed to match the ³Kootenai River Country² gateway signs being planned for highway entrances to the county, $41,000 to pave the parking lot, $16,000 for office equipment, $25,000 for advertising and $13,000 for a contingency fund.

The committee working on the swimming pool proposal will use the $15,000 to hire the consulting engineering firm CTA Architects/Engineers to draw up plans for the project. The plans will allow the committee to place the question of whether or not to fund construction on a spring ballot. The cost of building a pool is projected at around $1.5 million.

In other business, the council formally received a funding proposal from the Lincoln County Port Authority.

The port authority is seeking the unallocated funds remaining in the city¹s economic development account ? around $400,000 of the original $8 million received via federal appropriation in the fall of 2000 ? plus the monthly payments from a $320,000 loan to Kootenai Paving approved last spring. Another $3 million is due to be returned to the account eventually and include a $1.5 million loan for the expansion of the golf course at Cabinet View Country Club and a $1 million loan to the city itself to pay off water and sewer bonds.

The port authority seeks to use the funds to develop the former Stimson mill site.

³It will not be used for projects that do not provide direct economic growth,² said board chairman Jim Mayo. ³It will not be used for administrative costs.²

The port authority received the mill property from Stimson at the end of 2003 and borrowed $96,000 from the city to fund upkeep on the site for one year. The property is getting close to being self-sufficient with more than 100 people employed at the several businesses leasing space there, Mayo said. The port authority is negotiating with several other businesses interested in the site and will soon have to look into erecting new buildings, he said.

According to consultants, 80 percent of businesses looking to relocate want an existing building or a site that¹s ready to build on, Mayo said.

³Speed is the key in attracting people,² he said.

The council will vote on the issue at its next regular meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 6.