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Tue, Sept. 17

Council vote on garage pact Tuesday<BR>

PRESCOTT – Termination of the City of Prescott's long-term partnership for the downtown parking garage could become official this week, when the Prescott City Council votes on the matter.

At last week's study session, the council members appeared to agree that the city should terminate its partnership with M3 Companies, the private development firm that the city has worked with for about three years on the plans for a downtown parking garage.

This week, the item will be back on the council's agenda for a possible vote. And City Manager Steve Norwood was fairly certain Friday that the council would be ready to arrive at a decision.

"Overall, they're at a point to go ahead and make it official," Norwood said of the council members Friday afternoon. "They want to move toward getting some kind of final settlement on their costs."

The meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St. Prior to the regular voting session, the council will meet in executive session to discuss the parking garage in private one more time. A number of closed-door meetings have already taken place on the topic. The executive session will begin at 2:30 p.m. at city hall.

During the executive session, the council will discuss its position on a possible agreement with M3 over the costs the company has incurred on the project.

In an earlier letter to the city, M3 officials maintained that their costs for the planning and design of the garage topped $1.1 million.

Since about 2000, the city and M3 had been working toward a joint project that would have combined a public parking garage with a privately owned residential component. In the initial plans, M3 proposed apartments and then, later, the company shifted to a condominium/hotel concept.

But in mid-August, Norwood announced that he would recommend that the city sever its ties with M3 on the parking garage plans, maintaining that the estimated costs exceeded the city's budget and that the city had not received all of the information it needed in a timely manner.

Although Tuesday could end the city's involvement with M3 on the garage, Norwood emphasized that it will not end the parking garage discussion. He expects the council to ask him to begin looking into its other alternatives for building a parking garage in Prescott's downtown.

If he gets that direction from the council, Norwood said he could be ready to present options for the garage by the first council meeting in Octo-ber.

Even so, he cautioned that any new plans for the garage would take some time to develop. "The bottom line is we are not going to have a garage for next Fourth of July," Norwood said.

Even having a building complete by Christmas 2004 would be difficult, Norwoodadded.

In other action, the council will:

• Consider a resolution that would set out a new policy for city contributions for the cultural and performing arts.

At last week's study session, the council debated a proposal to turn over recommendations for its contributions to the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council (PAAHC).

In its 2003-04 budget, the council allocated $20,000 to special events. The proposed change in policy would allow PAAHC to evaluate the requests that the city has received and recommend to the city manager which events should get the city money.

• Consider an agreement with One Heart, LLC (Zuma's Woodfire Cafe) to take on the food and beverage concessions at the Antelope Hills Golf Course.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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