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DURA hopes to avoid mediation

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The one-year contract with the Denver law firm providing expertise for the Delta Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) was extended last week after lengthy debate and a 3-2 vote by members of the Delta City Council.

Extensions of 30 days are also being sought with the taxing districts that have yet to sign off on tax increment financing DURA needs to fund a riverfront hotel development.

Over the past year, the city, on behalf of DURA, has paid $74,000 to the firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farmer Schreck. The six-month extension, billed at $6,000 per month, will run another $36,000. Council members Gerald Roberts and Bill Raley objected to the extension.

Carolynne White, an attorney with Brownstein Hyatt Farmer Schreck, has represented DURA in negotiations with the taxing entities that are being asked to sign off on tax increment financing that would pave the way for a mid-tier hotel near the intersection of Highway 92 and Highway 50. DURA would not build the hotel, but would purchase the property, make access improvements and extend utilities to the site. Without funds to correct the deficiencies on the parcel of land in question, the cost of development would be "disproportionate" to the potential benefit, White explained previously.

DURA was unable to secure intergovernmental agreements with all the taxing districts within the 120-day time frame allowed by state statute. The next step would be mediation, but city officials said Tuesday they want to avoid any ill will that could arise from mediation.

At the Morning Buzz hosted by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, city manager David Torgler said DURA has reached agreement with the fire, library, hospital and ambulance districts. Negotiations are under way with Delta County (see related story). DURA is at an impasse with the Tri-County Water District, the Delta County Mosquito Control District or Colorado River District.

The hotel was one of three projects outlined in a study aimed at identifying economic opportunities for Delta County. In conjunction with riverfront improvements, it's believed the hotel could capture some of the tourism dollars that are being lost to Montrose and Grand Junction.

Torgler has repeatedly emphasized that the project can not proceed without buy-in from all taxing entities. He's also stated that a hotel developer is definitely interested in the project.

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