There are plenty of questions regarding a potential bandstand at Montezuma Park, but Cortez City Council on Tuesday gave it the nod to move forward with a rezone.
The Cortez Retail Enhancement Association in October proposed the idea of building a bandstand or band shell at the small pocket park to support the Third Thursday market and concert series, which takes place every third Thursday in June through September.
CREA Executive Director Mark Drudge said the local nonprofit is willing to put up $30,000 for a bandstand. In the past, musicians at the Third Thursday market have stood on the grass. He said the market attracts between 350 and 500 people and is growing.
Before any structure can be built at Montezuma Park, however, the city needs to change the zoning. According to a memo from City Planner Tracie Hughes, Montezuma Park is in the Neighborhood Business District, which does not permit theaters.
After a neighborhood meeting on Dec. 12, the Cortez Planning Commission directed staff to draft a proposal to rezone the park to the Open zone and amend the land use code to allow theaters in that zone.
Four public notice signs posted at the four corners of Montezuma Park inform passersby that the Planning Commission will vote on the rezone at it’s Feb. 5 meeting at 6:30 p.m.
At the neighborhood meeting in December, Hughes received several comments. Most of the responses were positive, but there are several concerns. One resident stated a concern that the bandstand could become an ideal spot for a homeless person to stay out of the wind.
City Councilman Ty Keel echoed that concern on Tuesday. The park is about a block away from the temporary Bridge Emergency Shelter, at 24 N. Chestnut St., and can attract people who are homeless.
“I’m just thinking down the road as far as it being a band stage that could possibly have some roof structure being an attractive place for people to use as a camping spot, so to speak,” Keel said.
City Manager John Dougherty said he told CREA to keep the bandstand very simple to avoid those inappropriate uses. He said it could be like a basic gazebo with no walls.
“I said, ‘I want it open, a roof and a stage and that’s what we want,’” Dougherty said.
City Attorney Mike Green informed council members that they are just giving the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the Planning Commission regarding the rezone to Open zoning. Beyond that, however, there are plenty of liability questions.
He said CREA would pay $30,000 to build the shelter, but the city would own it and would be responsible for maintenance and security. He said the increased use of the park might warrant an additional police presence.
Then there’s the issue of providing electricity for bands. It’s unclear how that might affect the bandstand.
“There are all these things that are out there, and they do raise some questions about liability for us,” Green said.
In the end, City Council gave the green light for the rezone. Councilwoman Jill Carlson said a bandstand at Montezuma Park would help achieve the city’s strategic plan of expanding infrastructure and services near Main Street.