City plan would assess YMCA for street

A perceived verbal agreement wasn’t enough to convince some members of the Minot City Council Tuesday that the city should pay the full cost of a street improvement past the Minot Family YMCA.

The city and the YMCA have been negotiating cost-sharing on paving 36th Avenue Southwest. The city would like to begin design work and call for bids.

The council’s Finance and Improvements Committee voted to recommend the council enter an agreement with the YMCA to pay 25 percent of the bill being negotiated. YMCA representatives insisted the city would be reneging on a commitment unless it pays the full amount.

City engineer Lance Meyer told the committee that the city typically would reimburse the YMCA for having to replace one of its lost access points and pay some amount in damages for the loss. He estimated the liability at $57,000 to $78,000.

The city has estimated the cost of constructing 300 feet of 36th Avenue at $232,000, which would be split between the property owner on the south and the YMCA on the north. The city’s willingness to pay 25 percent of the cost on the YMCA’s side should cover at least $57,000 in reimbursement and damages on the access.

YMCA representatives presented 2006 correspondence from then city engineer Waide Kritsky and also cited a previous verbal commitment from former city engineer Bob Amptman as evidence that the city had an agreement with the YMCA to cover the full cost of the street improvement. At the time, the city believed federal funding would be available, but YMCA executive director Roger Mazurek said the city never indicated that its contribution hinged on getting federal funds.

Travis Zablotney, YMCA board president, said that although contracts are required today, in the past, a man’s word was a man’s word so the city and YMCA likely felt a contract was unnecessary.

“The city was very much a part of the conversation at the time and very much did make the commitment to take care of this access,” he said. He suggested the city commit to paying a larger share of the cost than the $57,000.

Meyer responded that some of the correspondence is unclear about whether the city was agreeing to pay for the entire project or was simply moving ahead with certain preliminary steps.

City attorney Colleen Auer said the council would need to have taken formal action because it can’t be bound by statements of staff when spending public money. She added that the city also cannot spend money in a way that appears to be a gift to a private group but must show that it is receiving a public benefit from the expenditure.

The city’s share of costs is to be paid by general obligation bonds, which are repaid with taxpayer dollars.