Breaking News: Downtown Needles, CA: Needles City Council moves and postpones again decision on declare or extend Needles Chamber of Commerce agreement and lease on Needles Visitor Center.

By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):

Source: City of Needles (Information and Agenda Packet):

Downtown Needles, California: Members of the Needles City Council has postponed again during their regular meeting held on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 inside the Needles City Council Chambers a decision on declare or extend Needles Chamber of Commerce agreement and lease on Needles Visitor Center.

The item will be placed on the agenda for the next regular meeting due to a lack of quorum with two of the members having to excused themselves from this item and due to the Needles City Manager Rick Daniels wanting to discuss with the Needles Chamber of Commerce what a form dateline would be if it was extended.

According to documents from the City of Needles, on April 27, 2021, City Council entered into both a Services Agreement and a Lease Agreement with the Chamber of Commerce as the preferred vendor for the Visitor Center in the Historic El Garces Train Depot. The Chamber agreed to complete the tenant improvements for the Visitor Center and the Chamber Offices to open full time regular business on or before December 31, 2021.

At the October 26, 2021, City Council meeting, the Chamber of Commerce provided the City Manager with a request to extend the December 31, 2021, deadline to August 1, 2022, for the Services and Lease Agreement.

The following outlines the terms of the agreement for the Professional Services Agreement:

  • The Chamber will occupy 634 square feet of the 1,217 square feet to operate the Needles Visitor Center.
  • The Chamber will provide quarterly report to the City on the contacts with visitors (foot traffic at the VC, email count, phone call count, tours given, events scheduled in the El Garces).
  • The Agreement will remain in effect for a period of five years and shall be subject to mutually agreeable options to extend for three (3) year periods.
  • The Chamber will be compensated a fixed sum of $2,000 per month or $24,000 annually as Chamber’s sole and only compensation under the Agreement.
  • The City or Chamber may terminate this Agreement by giving written notice.

The following outlines the terms of the Lease Agreement for the Chamber in the El Garces:

  • The Chamber will lease 583 square feet of the 1,217 square feet space for the Needles Chamber of Commerce Offices.
  • The Agreement will remain in effect for a period of five years and shall be subject to mutually agreeable options to extend for three (3) year periods.
  • The Chamber will lease the 583 square feet for $0.61 cents per square foot or $355.63 per month for the area of the premises operated as the Needles Chamber of Commerce. Rent in the amount of $0.61 cents per square foot (634) for the City of Needles Visitor Center or $386.74 per month shall be waived by the City provided the Chamber is providing services under the Services Agreement.
  • The payment of utilities in the operation of the Needles Chamber of Commerce and the Needles Visitor Center shall be the responsibility of the Chamber. • Prior to entering the lease, the Chamber will obtain a building permit and commence construction within 30 days from the Effective Date of the agreement and be completed 90 days thereafter.

The Chamber provides an explanation of the delays that they have encountered in their letter received on October 26,2021. The Building permit was issued for this project in 2019. When the Chamber was first selected as the vendor, they informed the Council that they were “shovel ready” to immediately start construction. They presented proof of funds to pay for the project. They also provided a list of volunteer subcontractors which led the Council to choose them to build and operate the Visitor Center. Some volunteer subcontractors have since chosen to be unavailable. The City has not been provided an overall project plan for achieving the completion of the project. While the Chamber has a volunteer general contractor to construct the facility, there does not appear to be sufficient project management skills or expertise engaged for this effort. Any consideration of remaining with this vendor must be accompanied by proof of qualifications to manage a project of this scale.

When the Visitor Center in the El Garces was first envisioned, there were two disconnected organizations operating to serve visitors. That situation remains. The Needles Tourism and Visitor Center group recently submitted a status report on their efforts.

As for the fiscal impact, the City of Needles said in the documents $24,000 for the management of the Needles Visitor Center to be paid out of the General Fund and $4,267.56 in rental income from the Needles Chamber of Commerce office.

The recommended action to members of the Needles City Council is for the City Council determine to either:

  • Option 1 Declare the contract and lease in default and request that the Council Visitor Center Committee to reassess the project and seek other options.
  • Option 2 Extend the agreements upon the submission of a project plan prepared by a paid qualified project manager who will assure the project completion.

*** Agenda Packet for Agenda Item #9 (Unless otherwise noted, all downloadable agenda packets that are posted here are in a PDF file format so please make sure to have a PDF file reader or viewer): ***

cc-09-011122-chambers el garces

More information is still coming into ZachNews, stay tuned to ZachNews.

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