Council approves 1st reading of Iron Horse sale, denies records request to release other proposals
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday approved a first reading of the sale of the Iron Horse Inn for $3.05 million right after it denied an open records request filed by the Steamboat Today to make public the seven other sale proposals that were considered.
The council is moving ahead with the sale of the Iron Horse to a pair of real estate buyers at Ski Town Commercial who want to renovate the property and maintain it as affordable housing.
The council approved the first reading of the sale without any discussion on the proposal.
Councilwoman Sonja Macys was the lone “no” vote on the sale.
She said she wasn’t certain it was the best use of the property, and she was concerned that the sale contract does not bind the buyers to follow through with their plan for the property.
In a series of closed door sessions, the council has considered eight real estate proposals for the Iron Horse.
Seven of the eight proposals have not been made public.
On Monday, the Steamboat Today requested the city release information about all of the proposals the council has considered for the Iron Horse to give the public a look at what the other options were for the property, which has been a source of controversy since the city took on $5.2 million in debt to purchase it in 2007.
General services director Anne Small said the other proposals would not be released until after a sales contract had been signed for the property per the city’s purchasing policies.
She added that she had spoken to city attorney Tony Lettunich and an open records request for the proposal would be denied.
However, after a lengthy internal discussion about whether to release the proposals on Monday, the city administration took the Steamboat Today’s records request to the council to make the final determination.
Lettunich told the council the sales proposals that would be released did not contain any confidential information, but he wanted the council to decide whether releasing the other proposals would substantially harm the public’s interest by potentially hurting the pending real estate transaction.
“In the private sector, you would not want to have everybody know what the various offers were. You would want to move forward with your real estate transaction and get it closed…” Lettunich said.
A majority of the council agreed and felt it would not be in the city’s or the public’s best interest to release the other real estate proposals before the closing date of the pending sale to Ski Town Commercial.
All but one council member worried the release could damage the pending sale.
“I don’t think this is a difficult decision,” councilman Kenny Reisman said. “I feel very strongly that the public’s best interest is getting this sale to closing. And in order to do that, just like in all real estate deals, all other proposals remain private. When it closes, we’ll release everything.”
Councilman Scott Ford said the degree of harm that could be caused by releasing the other proposals was unknown.
“The release of information creates an unknown harm,” he said.
Councilwoman Sonja Macys said she was in favor of releasing more information about the proposals to the public so that it could better understand the options the council considered for the property.
The council will consider a second and final reading of the Iron Horse sale on Oct. 27.
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