Crestwood board approves lease with owner of Barn

Roby believes it’s ‘improper’ for aldermen ‘to bring these changes’ to public meeting

Karen Mott at The Barn. Photo courtesy TripAdvisor.
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Karen Mott at The Barn. Photo courtesy TripAdvisor. (

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted last week to approve a lease agreement with the owner of The Barn restaurant at the city’s Thomas Sappington Historic Site.

An ordinance approving the lease with Barn owner Karen Mott was approved with a 7-0 vote. Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach was absent from the April 26 meeting.

The ordinance was considered before the winners of the April 5 election were seated — incumbent Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding and incumbent Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter, both of whom were unopposed; Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel, who previously served nine years on the board; and Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy, who made his first bid for office.

The board voted in late 2012 to approve a three-year lease with Mott to operate The Barn. Mott’s new lease will run from June 1, 2016, to May 31, 2021, with options for three five-year extensions.

The pact also includes phase one improvements to be made by the city not to exceed $30,000. The improvements will be the property of the city.

Under the terms of the lease, Mott will pay base rent of $900 per month in 2016, an additional $350 per month for phase one improvements and $550 per month for utilities — $1,800 per month or a total of $21,600 per year.

Among other provisions of the lease:

• If the city uses The Barn for a special event, the cost would be “an amount equal to one month’s rent as a facility fee.” Food and beverage costs are not included in the facility fee. Such events would be limited to two per year.

• The city agrees “to periodically place information regarding ‘The Barn’ in its city of Crestwood Parks and Recreation brochure, newsletter, website, electronic message board and other social media outlets at no cost” to Mott. The content of such information is exclusively controlled by the city.

• Early termination of the lease will be allowed after the first five-year period.

The approved lease differs from a proposed lease that was given initial approval with a 5-3 vote on April 12. Opposed were Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau, Ward 3 Alderman Grant Mabie and Ward 4 Alderman Tim Anderson.

The approved lease clarifies some issues that were raised during a discussion of the pact at the April 12 meeting, including outlining that the city will be responsible for replacing a number of major appliances should they fail, while Mott is responsible for the maintenance and repair of those major appliances.

Mott said April 12 that she had some concerns about maintenance in the lease, including a refrigerator that may be 45 years old. At that meeting, Mabie told Mott that she “wouldn’t be obligated to replace the fridge.”

Mott replied, “No, but I need it. I’m using it. If it dies tomorrow, I have to have a place to put that refrigerated food. So one of us has to replace it because it’s a full refrigerator.”

City Administrator Kris Simpson said last week, “… Following the last meeting where there was some disagreement on the board about the nature of the agreement that staff brought before the board …, I felt it was important to try and address some of the concerns that were raised by the board and asked staff to work with Miss Mott and some of the board members in question to come up with some sort of compromise bill.

“That’s what this ordinance is for. We have, I believe, addressed the concerns that were raised, or at least the most significant ones, and come up with I think all parties agree is a better agreement …”

Simpson noted that because the lease would be effective June 1, the board would need to extend Mott’s current lease until then. But Mayor Gregg Roby asked why the new lease couldn’t be effective immediately when Mott’s current extension expires, and Director of Public Services Jim Gillam said that could be done.

Roby later called Mott to the podium, “My question for you, Miss Mott, is are you in agreement with this current contract that has been worked up that’s before us tonight?”

Mott replied, “Yes.”

But she said that she was opposed to making the new lease effective immediately.

“I would like another month before my rent goes up,” Mott said.

Roby said, “… OK, we can do that …”

Anderson later cited a typographical error in the lease and proposed a language change to the default provision in the lease. He also proposed that the provision outlining the city’s responsibility to replace certain equipment “could have some notation that replacement does not have to be new equipment, but could be used equipment and that it only be a one-time replacement. So in other words, this is a lease that goes on for, with extensions, for almost 20 years, and if it’s the city’s duty to replace equipment, does it extend throughout the entire 20-year period or if we replace an item, will that suffice in terms of our duty? …”

Anderson sought to make a motion, but Roby asked him to delay doing so until other aldermen could speak.

Stadter said, “… I just want to be really clear because I’m not sure I’m hearing this the way you mean for it to be read. But essentially what I just heard you say is we want it to be OK for the city to be able to buy used equipment — doesn’t matter how used it is as far as this is concerned — and then only replace it once. So we can buy something that’s absolute crap, replace it once and then it’s on her? That doesn’t seem right either.”

Anderson said, “Well, the question was when the equipment that was given to her in the beginning was old, used and in some state of — certainly not new. So, in other words, I don’t think the city would have an obligation to put her in a better position … than what she was originally …”

Stadter interjected, “I still think we need to put some sort of a safeguard in there for her, that what we get her is at least of equivalent use or condition as to what she originally had … I want to make sure we’re not putting her in a worse position.”

Anderson said, “No, no, obviously it has to be functional. It has to be serviceable. It has to be working …”

After further discussion, Charboneau said, “… Maybe if we put in there used equipment agreed upon with Karen, in that wording …”

Stadter later said she agreed with Charboneau.

“… I just think the important point is that we need to have it in the contract, and I like the idea that it would be a mutually agreed upon arrangement with the lessee,” she said. “And the reason for that is this is a 20-year contract. It’s probably longer than the tenure of any of us on this board is going to be, so we need to be clear for whoever is in these seats in the future what the intent was …”

Roby said he was unhappy with any proposed changes to the lease agreement and vowed to veto the ordinance if the board approved it with the proposed changes.

“… I’m not satisfied with the way this has gone,” he said, noting aldermen had the opportunity to pick up their packets for the meeting a week earlier. “You’ve had since last Tuesday (April 19) to bring this information to the city to get this contract worked out so that (Mott) had the opportunity to read these issues that you’re now trying to incorporate into a contract that you’re wanting to approve tonight that you haven’t given her the opportunity to read with these changes.

“And I’m not supportive of that, and as a result, if this board moves forward with this contract with those amendments, then I will veto that until such time as this contract can be rewritten and be approved by (Mott) … I don’t think tonight is the time to be negotiating this contract and making these changes, and I believe it’s improper for the board to bring these changes to the public meeting at this time when you’ve had since Tuesday to read this document and submit these changes to the city, so that when this document came before us tonight, it was clean and everyone was in agreement with what was written there. So having said that, do you still wish to maintain your motion, Alderman Anderson?”

Anderson said, “… Yes, your honor.”

After further discussion, Roby invited Mott to address the board.

“… I’m really not sure how to feel about this, except — I’m OK with the default language change,” she said. “I’m OK with the typo change. The equipment — I think Mr. Gillam and I came to an agreement on that equipment, and I would really like the agreement that we came to, to stand. I would like the board to take into account that in the past three years, you’ve made $50,000 from me, OK, and less than $10,000 of that has been spent in my building …”

Mabie asked Mott, “… With respect to the line that Alderman Anderson suggested of just a clarification that may be used equipment, do you feel that is contrary to what you and Mr. Gillam discussed?”

“No … Used equipment is fine with me, as long as it’s in working order,” Mott said. “But it’s your risk …”

Anderson proposed three amendments, including:

• Changing the words “any additional” extensions shall require the approval of the city and Mott to “all” extensions. The change was approved with a 7-0 vote.

• Eliminating “after written notice of such failure to pay” from the default provision of the lease. The change was defeated with a 6-1 vote with Anderson in favor.

• Adding language allowing the city “to replace existing equipment with used equipment at the city’s risk.” The change was approved with a 6-1 vote. Ward 4 Alderman Cindy Minor was opposed.

The board later voted to “postpone indefinitely” the lease ordinance that was given a first reading at the April 12 meeting.