After a lot of citizen input and questions, the Newton City Council voted 4 to 2 last night to purchase the Newton Inn at the southeast corner of the Highway 14 and Interstate 80 interchange for 495-thousand dollars. The City plans to demolish the 2-story motel and make the land available for new development. BJM Hotels Incorporated owns the motel which City Staff says has been the site of numerous police and EMS calls over a period of months. City Staff says efforts have repeatedly been made to get the state, which has jurisdiction over the motel’s license, to step in and take action against the business. But those efforts have been unsuccessful. To pay for the acquisition and demolition, which could cost another 500-thousand dollars, the City will borrow money from the Water Pollution Control Fund and the General Fund. Those funds would then be paid back with bond revenue the City will receive this coming spring. 1st Ward Councilman Mark Hallam voted against the purchase.
At-Large Representative Lin Chape’ agreed with Hallam and cast the other “No” vote. She also thanked the citizens who spoke last night, asking questions and expressing concerns.
Mayor Mike Hansen notes a portion of the City’s investment in the property could be recovered when the property is sold to a developer. The Mayor claims there’s already interest in the site for a variety of uses which he currently can’t comment on.
Look for more on this story on this website and KCOB radio throughout the rest of this week.