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City blocks western entrance to truck stop

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Sharon Dunn, (Bio) sdunn@greeleytrib.com
May 13, 2005

The city of Evans hits its breaking point with a truck stop on Thursday.

After six years of waiting for Stampede Travel Plaza owners to abide by a 1999 agreement to improve 31st Street where it intersects with U.S. 85, town officials decided it was time to send a message that they are serious.

They pulled out 4-by-10-foot concrete barricades and blocked the western access to the truck stop and its adjacent restaurant, the Double Clutch Cafe. A white sign with red letters alerts drivers the road is closed because of nonperformance by the owners and lists a phone number to call. The eastern access, however, is still open.

"The traffic volumes are huge there, and there is a lot of left-turn movement into that driveway. We felt we needed to take action to get their attention, plus improve the safety," said Evans Public Works Director Earl Smith. "The barricades will be up until they make the improvements. They need to make the improvements, or we'll take legal action."

Evans officials have not had the best of luck with the truck stop. The initial developer, Scott Fish, who left Greeley in 2001 with a wake of millions in unpaid bills and judgments against him, signed the agreement to improve 31st Street and its intersection in 1999. He took out a $260,000 bond to ensure that he would get the job done.

In 2000, the city gave Fish a deadline, but he didn't make it. About the time Fish was leaving the area, Smith said the city tried to cash that bond in to get the improvements done once and for all.

"Unfortunately, the bonding company went belly up; it was worthless," Smith said. "Of course, we kept pursuing with the owner, but then it went through the bank.

"We were taken advantage of a little bit, but given the circumstances with the changes in ownership, we were trying to give each new owner the benefit of the doubt."

Compass Bank foreclosed on the truck stop but continued to run it. Sun Development LP of Houston bought the truck stop out of foreclosure for $1.9 million in April 2002. Now it's owned by Petroleum Wholesale L.P., but it's essentially the same ownership. Petroleum owns several truck stops in the Rocky Mountain region.

Stuart Lapp, general counsel for Petroleum, said the company is willing to do the improvements but wants to redesign the initial plans.

"We would like to redesign the proposed intersection," Lapp said. "Our redesign accommodates adequate ingress and egress to the facility and does not require 18-wheelers and cars to use the same entrance as the city's (plan) does. We are committed to the full obligations that we agreed to undertake when we acquired the property."

If they don't resolve the issue, Smith said the city will file a complaint in Weld District Court, but he didn't give a time frame.

What are people saying about mortgages today:

Rates on 30-year mortgages edged down last week to a seven-month low. Mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.3 percent, down slightly from 6.31 percent two weeks ago. It put rates at the lowest level since they were at 6.24 percent the first week of March.

Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, Territorial Savings Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgages all cut their 30-year mortgage rates to 5.75 percent this week.

Most people think of a mortgage as a means to an end. After all, you buy a house, not a home loan. But a mortgage is much more than the path to homeownership. It is a financial instrument that must be managed, just like any other financial investment.