Town, auditorium association aim for 1-year deal
The Town of Winthrop and the Winthrop Auditorium Association seem to be just a few words away from finally reaching accord on an operating agreement for the Winthrop Barn.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Sally Ranzau and council members reviewed the latest iteration of a proposed one-year agreement under which the auditorium association would oversee the barn’s daily operations and scheduling.
The seven-page document was marked up in a few places with red type indicating changes the auditorium association would like to see in the final document.
“We’re getting pretty darn close,” the mayor said.
One request from the auditorium association is to create a $5,000 reserve fund. Rick Northcott, who was recently elected president of the Winthrop Auditorium Association board, said “the hope is we’ll have some opportunities for upgrades and generate more business.”
The main sticking point was a paragraph under the “agreement to indemnify” section of the proposed contract, specifically language that would require the auditorium association to “resist and defend” certain legal actions “on behalf of the town, and at WAA’s own cost and expense by counsel reasonably satisfactory to the town.” Ranzau said the language by town attorney Scott DeTro was considerably trimmed down from an earlier version.
“What would trigger that [provision]?” Northcott wanted to know. “We’re unclear as to what situation would arise … we’re looking for clarity.”
Ranzau said she would ask DeTro to provide some hypothetical examples.
Northcott said that “it seems that the rest is OK,” with addition of a safety inspection by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
The council was generally satisfied with the proposal, assuming the auditorium association is satisfied with an explanation of the indemnity paragraph.
Northcott said the auditorium association can’t hire a new manager for the Winthrop Barn until it has an agreement. The association had set an Aug. 31 deadline for reaching an agreement, Northcott said. However, the town council won’t be able to act on the proposal until its next scheduled meeting on Sept. 5.
“We need to get it done,” Northcott said.
A 25-year agreement between the town and the association expired in May 2017. The association approached the town with a proposed five-year agreement in January of this year, and discussions have been going back-and-forth since.
In other business at last week’s council meeting:
• Consultant Chris Johnson, representing the owner of a proposed 10-lot housing subdivision adjacent to Cascade Condominiums, asked for a meeting with town representatives and state officials to sort out some technical issues related to the town’s water service plan for the area, so planning for the subdivision can proceed.
Johnson said the owner, Richard Hamel, would pay for whatever state services are required. Johnson said Hamel would like to “get an indication that we are moving in the right direction.”
Hamel proposes to create 10 lots on the 9.56-acre property, with the access road culminating in a cul de sac.
• The council agreed to renew a lease on a building that houses the Marshal’s Office. The building at 131 Riverside Ave., owned by Jerome and Kim Thiel, has been used by the Marshal’s Office since its former quarters in the basement of Town Hall flooded a couple of years ago. The town will pay $600 a month in rent under terms of the one-year lease.
Marshall Dan Tindall said the building serves his department well. “It’s a great spot, and we have lots of parking,” he said. Parking for the department’s vehicles had occasionally been an issue when it was at Town Hall.
Tindall also reported that a backlog of property being held as evidence in old cases has been returned to owners or destroyed. “It was evidence that we no longer needed and should have been cleared out earlier,” Tindall said.
The marshal also said his department is developing operational policy guidelines for use of the police motorcycle it recently acquired. He said he contacted other agencies for guidance on developing a policy.
Tindall said the motorcycle won’t be used in high-speed pursuits except in an emergency Nighttime use will be discouraged, he said. Tindall said the motorcycle will be more efficient when the town is crowded with traffic during busy tourism times.
Deputy Marshal Doug Johnson is current the only Winthrop officer who is certified to use the motorcycle on patrol.
Tindall said the department’s recently acquired Ford Crown Victoria police vehicle, a used model, will soon be outfitted with identifying decals and necessary equipment.
• Ranzau said that local arborist Teresa Miller has offered to conduct an inventory of the town’s trees and advise the town on keeping the trees healthy. The mayor said that Winthrop may seek to form a combined Tree Board with Twisp, which has an active program to maintain its trees.