Gowdy: ‘Young adults key to Marshalltown’s future’

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It is evident in talking to Third Ward Councilor Mike Gowdy he is bullish on Marshalltown’s future.

The 66-year old retiree from a Newton optical company is running unopposed in the Nov. 7 election.

Gowdy, a Melbourne native, was first elected in November, 2013.

He defeated Merrill Price 372-309.

In a recent interview with the Times-Republican, Gowdy said overall, he was pleased with the city’s progress during his first term. He cited passage of a referendum to build a new joint police and fire department headquarters, passage of a Local Option Sales Tax measure which gives the council flexibility on spending and ongoing street improvements.

He also cited the creation of a “Dangerous and Dilapidated” program which removed five dilapidated residential structures last year, and hiring of City Administrator Jessica Kinser.

He saluted the Marshall Economic Development organization and partners, who, despite stiff state-wide competition, convinced Alliant Energy to build a state-of-the art, gas-fired electrical-generating facility on East Nevada Street.

It broke ground July 15, 2014, cost nearly $650 million to build, and pumped $47.3 million into the Marshalltown economy.

At its peak, 1,300 construction workers were on site.

It significantly increased the amount of natural gas flowing into Marshalltown, benefiting local businesses, industry, and residential customers.

Officially, it is known as the Marshalltown Generating Station.

Aptly named, it started generating power April 1 for not only Marshalltown customers, but for other Alliant customers statewide.

Now that MGS is online, Gowdy said he still likes to drive-around and see goings-on in the third ward and in town.

He is pleased with the progress on the joint police and fire department facility, a measure he strongly supported.

The site has been graded and concrete will be poured soon.

Occupancy is expected in December, 2018.

Construction at The Willows site in the 2300 block of Campbell Dr. has been underway since July.

The estimated $13.3-million dollar project on 12.44 acres will provide more senior housing opportunities. Specifically, 40-assisted living units and 18-memory care units.

“Additionally, The Willows expects to create 34-full-time equivalent jobs and generate $125,000 plus in annual property tax,” said project developer Ben Daniels of Fairfield.

“I think it is a great project for Marshalltown,” said Gowdy.

Gowdy, who raised his family in Marshalltown and is the grandfather to seven, said he was pleased to learn Heart of Iowa — a regional communications company — was installing fiber optics on 4th Street and 6th St.

“And, I see (construction on) the Holiday Inn Express (in the 100 block of Iowa Avenue West) is up to the third story.”

Looking forward, Gowdy is cautiously optimistic about plans for the nearly 90-year old Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Gowdy became involved in proposed renovation discussions not only as a councilor, but one active in the local Sons of the American Legion.

At the Oct. 9 city council meeting, Gowdy was one of seven “yes” votes for 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 VMC.

While preliminary construction costs need to be finalized, Gowdy said authorizing the Community Development and Housing Department to submit a grant application was a good starting point.

He is also excited about the Iowa Department of Transportation’s plans to improve Highway 14, specifically on North Third Avenue.

If re-elected, Gowdy said he is eager to see more “Dangerous & Dilapidated” properties removed, the PD/FD facility finished and more street repair projects.

He said he and other councilors will continue to exercise “due diligence” on Marshalltown’s $50-million budget, because of mounting concerns the state legislature will seriously reduce, or eliminate the “backfill” allocation to Iowa towns. “Backfill” was installed by the state legislature under the Branstad legislation to replace revenue lost as a result of commercial property tax rollback initiated several years ago.

When the subject turned to Marshalltown’s assets, Gowdy was quick to identify Marshalltown’s youth.

“For years, I have known young adults are one of Marshalltown’s greatest resources,” said Gowdy, who has worked with many as a Kiwanian and at the Legion. “I have encouraged them to get involved for a long time. I am behind them 100 percent.”

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