Council OKs grant application

Would be used to renovate Coliseum

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A resolution indicating support for a not to exceed $475,000 grant that, if approved, could eventually help offset an estimated $3.8 million to renovate the Veterans Memorial Coliseum generated a significant amount of interest and discussion among the Marshalltown City Council at its regular Monday night meeting.

Housing & Community Development Director Michelle Spohnheimer outlined the application process for the State of Iowa’s “Iowa Great Places” grant funding program due Nov. 1.

Core grant team

A core grant team would prepare the application. They are

Spohnheimer, Executive Director of the Marshalltown Convention & Visitors Bureau Val Ruff, Executive Director of the Arts & Cultural Alliance Amber Danielson, and Martha Ellen Tye Foundation Manager of Community and Grantee Relations Heidi Dalal.

Spohnheimer said the grant team discussed other projects such as the Iowa River Trail, but selected the Coliseum.

Earlier this year, a special Parks and Recreation Dept. committee hired via competitive bidding a Des Moines architectural firm to estimate significant renovations to the Coliseum, which included, among other features, an elevator which would make the second floor of the building accessible to handicapped residents.

Spohnheimer acknowledged that the application work for the Coliseum might seem premature since the $3.8 million in Coliseum renovations are feasibility study estimates and not final costs.

“We recognize this (application) might seem a little early in this project,” Spohnheimer said. “But we are also looking at our time as a current grantee … and the opportunity to apply for funding that is available to us now, may not be available to us in the future. The application guidelines change when an applicant is current (which Marshalltown is) versus a new applicant. This is the time to kick off potential funding opportunities for this project. This could be a starting foundation to secure other funds … be they state, federal, or private funds.”

Spohnheimer said the state would notify the team of application approval or decline Dec. 15.

Lead applicant

The Marshall County Arts & Cultural Alliance is submitting the application, Spohnheimer said, “since it has experience with other Iowa Great Places funded projects such as the “Echo” structure on 13th Street, and the “Drills” sculpture at the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse.

Required match

If the grant is approved, it requires a $475,000 match. That generated questions from several councilors, who were concerned what the total city commitment might be, should other funding sources Spohnheimer referenced be confirmed.

“We are voting tonight on a commitment,” said At-Large Councilor Leon Lamer. “That if this grant goes through … we are going to match that grant.”

Spohnheimer replied “correct.”

First ward councilor Dan Kester asked for confirmation the city could pull out of the project if other funding sources do not materialize.

“I was under the assumption, that if in March (2018) we are not getting the matching funds from the other sources … we can stop at that time,” to which Spohnheimer replied “correct.”

Three-year grant time frame

Spohnheimer said if approved, the grant would run for three years, which would give the grant team and partners ample time to seek and apply to other funding sources, such as from company foundations, regional and local foundations, or federal grants to meet matching grant requirements.

Spohnheimer told the council there were many steps to the process and a resolution of support was just the first step.

After more discussion, the council approved the resolution 7-0.

Severance expenses?

In other action, At-Large candidate Mark Eaton questioned the city expense of an additional $12,300 recently paid to Lynch Dallas of Cedar Rapids, a law firm the city has hired to fight a severance request from two property owners, of which one, Monte Eaton, is Mark Eaton’s brother.

“The city has now spent a total of $24,000 to fight the severance request,” Mark Eaton claimed. “When are you going to say ‘enough is enough’? Since Mark Eaton’s comments were under the public comment portion of the agenda, no action could be taken.

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