City, Hymnus sign agreement for use of former Armory

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The New Prague City Council unanimously approved a concession agreement for Hymnus, Inc., to use the former Armory building at 301 Lexington Ave. S as an arts and cultural activities center.

New Prague Planning Director Ken Ondich explained during Monday's meeting the concession agreement was being used instead of a lease at the request of the Department of the Interior. The department deeded the armory to the city, but still has an interest in the use of the building. The department provided a template that the city used. Mary Zard, administrator of the local choir Hymnus, and city attorney Scott Riggs looked over the agreement and agreed to it.

Ondich noted the term for the agreement is from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2013; Hymnus will provide a payment of $1 to the city.

Responsibilities for the structure are split between the city and Hymnus. The city will maintain the furnace, air conditioning, water heater, mowing the lawn, trimming trees, repairs to the roof and building exterior and snow removal from the parking lot since a city water treatment plant also uses the lot.

Hymnus is responsible for all other normal maintenance and cleaning of the interior, the organization will pay all utility costs, will trim the shrubs and weed the area near the structure and the sign out front and remove snow from the sidewalks.

Councilmember Kay Wilcox asked if the $1 payment was one time or annually. She thought the city should look at possibly going over the contract annually or payment from Hymnus in case work had to be done on the building.

Ondich and City Administrator Mike Johnson both explained that if the city starts charging or asks for rent that would likely make the land subject to property taxes. Currently the area is tax exempt since it is owned by the city and Hymnus is a non-profit organization.

With no more questions, the council approved the agreement.

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