Bond issue vote set for Aug. 2

The Marshalltown City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to set Aug. 2 for a public referendum allowing the city to borrow an amount not to exceed $17.5 million for a joint police and fire building project.

If voters approve, the joint facility would be built at the “old” EconoFoods site, 909 S. Second St.

“I am strongly in favor of this proposal,” said councilman-at-large Bill Martin. “The project is needed.”

Mayor Jim Lowrance and other members of the council added support and the need to get the project on the ballot Aug. 2

Second ward councilman Joel Greer said waiting until 2017 would result in higher project costs.

“We would be looking at a minimum four percent increase if we delay,” he said.

The police building and fire station were determined to have too many structural deficiencies to adequately repair.

Additionally, Police Chief Michael Tupper cited numerous deficiencies.

“We are one suspect’s punch on an officer, and that suspect only having to go through two doors to escape to the back alley,” said Tupper

Consequently, a new, joint facility was recommended by an all-volunteer Citizen Advisory Committee.

“I would like to commend staff, the city council, the CAC and the citizens who attended the six open houses that helped us arrive at this point,” city City Administrator Randy Wetmore.

However, councilman-at-large Leon Lamer said numerous residents have asked what will be done with the police headquarters, 22 N. Center St., and fire station should the referendum pass.

“We need to have a plan in place in the near future to answer these questions.” Lamer said firmly.

Wetmore said the final cost estimate was $17,485,525, which was $85,525 above the Prochaska & Associates of Omaha, Nebraska, $17.4 million estimated costs.

The estimate included options to secure the EconoFoods and Knights of Columbus properties, asbestos re-mediation at EconoFoods and street/ site adjustments.

Council agreed to “round up” the bond amount to $17.5 million.

Prochaska & Associates was hired by the city last October to provide professional services.

Now it will be up to the CAC to convince voters of the need, since elected officials by Iowa law, can only inform, and not promote, passage of the measure.

Iowa law requires 60 percent approval.

Monday’s vote was necessary to notify Marshall County officials and give the county auditor’s office enough time to prepare for a Aug. 2 vote, City Administrator Randy Wetmore said.

If passed, the referendum would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $88.58 per year, said Wetmore.

Marshalltown voters rejected a proposed $13.75 million police-only facility by a 972 vote margin in a special election May 5 last year.

2,137 no votes, or 64.7 percent, were cast vs. 1,165 yes, or 35.3 percent.

The 3,302 total votes cast vs. 15,990 registered voters represented nearly 21 percent of eligible voters participating.

With those results and criticism the police-only building process was rushed, the site selection (Old Crosby Pool on Sixth Street) unpopular, and sentiment to have a joint police-fire building in mind, the city and interested residents went to work last September.

A second citizen’s advisory committee was created, Prochaska & Associates were hired, and the team started all over again.

Prochaska & Associates in tandem with the CAC, reviewed 21 sites.

Over a period of several months and holding numerous public meetings, they reduced the number eligible eventually to one – 909 S. Second St.

“The city and volunteers been studying and working on this process four years,” said Lowrance. “The time is now.”

$30,000 funding for TRAILS, Inc.

After extensive debate, the council voted 5-2 to to expend $30,000 out of the Capital Improvement Plan allocated to TRAILS, Inc.

TRAILS is a local non profit group working in tandem with Hardin County officials to build the Iowa River Trail, a multi-purpose recreational trail from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock. Specifically, the $30,000 will be used for a portion of the trail constructed within Marshalltown city limits, said Lowrance.

With approximately 20 TRAILS supporters in attendance, first ward councilman Robert Schubert and Lamer directed pointed questions to Wetmore and Greer.

Lamer and Schubert’s contention was that in past years city staff had to make do with less.

However, Wetmore said the council voted to include the $30,000 during budget hearings only because the city’s tax situation had improved.

The vote reflected the discussion with Lamer and Schubert voting no.

However, when the dust settled supporters came away with the funds, which Greer said was necessary to generate more money from grant sources.

Green contented at other meeting the project had lost out on countless funding sources because the city had not committed financial; resources.”

Rex Ryden Road

Local attorney Rex Ryden of Cartwright, Druker and Ryden was ceremoniously honored with a street in the Marshalltown Industrial Park named in his honor.

The location was fitting, since Ryden had been a MIP director, legal advisor, and past president for many years.

Ryden, a Des Moines native, began his legal career as an associate with Boardman Cartwright & Druker Jan. 1, 1960.

Over 56 years, Ryden would donate thousands of hours of pro-bono work and personal time to his church and numerous local organizations.

“Rex has made a lasting impact in every decade,” said Lowrance. “He has made a tremendous and lasting impact.”

Ryden received a standing ovation from council members, city staff and others in chambers when Lowrance presented him a large “Rex Ryden Road” sign.

The next regular meeting of the city council is 5:30 p.m., June 27, in council chambers, Carnegie Building, 10 W. S. State St. For more information, contact 641-754-5701, or visit ci.marshalltown.ia.us.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com.