City Council Delays Decision On Air Park Blight Designation, Approves Use of CARES Funds

Lincoln, NE (July 12, 2021)   Questions about tax breaks, the effects of a blight designation on the Nine Mile Prairie, how surplus land would be disposed of, and long term area plans all combined to delay a vote on a designation of “extremely blighted’ for a portion of Lincoln’s Air Park.

The area between West Holdrege Street and West Fletcher Avenue, west of Northwest 48th Street, was under discussion.  Urban Development Director Dan Marvin told the Council that passing the blight designation would make it possible for home buyers to apply for special $5,000 tax deductions.

Questions from Council Members and members of the public about the effect of the designation arose throughout the discussion.

Supporters of the Nine Mile Prairie were most prominent among the members of the public who posed questions at the Public Hearing.  Concern was raised about the closeness of homes that might be built adjacent to the Prairie, and whether they would effect conditions for the unbroken stretch of natural tall grass.

Several Council Members wanted more information about the “Huskerville Agreement”, the decision reached more than a decade ago concerning land set aside for Arnold Elementary School.  Details were sketchy on the disposition of land included in the purchase by the School District, but not used for the school.

At the end of the discussion, Council members agreed to delay the decision for two weeks, meet with each other and community leaders over the proposed designation, and re-open the Public Hearing on July 26 before taking a final vote on the designation.

Also on the agenda was $19.4 million in federal dollars received from the CARES Act. Council members approved the allocation of the money, applied for last year by both the Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln Fire and Rescue.

“This is reimbursement of salaries spend between March 1, 2020 and May 21, 2020,” said Brian Jackson, LPD’s acting chief of police.

The bulk of about $8.8 million going to LPD and $8.2 million to LFR will be used for upgrades to facilities, technology and apparatus.

“Refurbishing, remodeling our fire stations that we’ve shown are in states of disrepair,” said LFR Chief Dave Engler.

Also on the agenda was the first reading of a resolution to approve Teresa Ewins as the next Lincoln Chief of Police. She is scheduled to be present for the public hearing on her nomination, which is set for next Monday.