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MACC eligible for ARPA funds

CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC A rendering provided by FEH Design of the new art museum at the Marshalltown Arts and Civic Center.

The $6 million Marshalltown Arts & Civic Center/Fisher Community Center renovation project might be eligible for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Project coordinator Karn Gregoire and Mike Mason, who both sit on the Fisher Governor Board of Trustees, requested funding assistance from the Marshall County Board of Supervisors during the regular Tuesday meeting.

Marshall County Auditor Nan Benson listened to the presentation they gave and waited for a certain word to be uttered — tourism.

“You said the magic word at the end,” she told them. “That makes it eligible for our ARPA funds. I kept waiting. I was listening, taking notes and going, ‘Come on. Say it. Say the word. Tourism.'”

Mason opened the presentation by telling the supervisors the board is trying to set the facility up for the next 30 to 60 years. He said the board of trustees is going after $850,000 of state funding. To receive the money, the project needs to get local funding support from the city and the county, and Marshalltown is providing solid support. Gregoire said the project needs to have local commitment by July 14. Mason said they are in a position to release for bidding, but they are holding on taking that step until a clear picture of the funding is established.

Gregoire provided an update on the renovation progress and said all of the asbestos has been removed, which carried a cost of $500,000 and the roof has been replaced at a cost of $700,000. Those two expenses have been largely covered by insurance, but $100,000 still remains. Gregoire said they are negotiating with the insurance company now.

She said significant improvements to the building will be a huge economic advancement for Marshalltown and Marshall County. Some of those planned changes are improving meeting spaces and installing a full catering kitchen, which will make the facility more desirable for conferences.

“We’re going to be able to host more events, more conferences, which is going to be a huge economic driver for not only downtown but for all of Marshall County,” Gregoire said.

Benson asked what size of conference could be accommodated. Mason told her the building could easily take 100 to 150 people. Supervisor Bill Patten did bring up the poor acoustics in the center. Gregoire said the sound system has been discussed.

Supervisor Dave Thompson asked if any organization would still be able to host one meeting per month at no charge. Mason told him that is still the plan.

Gregoire also highlighted the Fisher art collection, which contains numerous impressionist pieces. The interest in the pieces is something that will draw art lovers from across the state and the nation, she said. The collection is one reason the board of trustees is making all of the renovations and improvements — to turn the building into a museum-quality facility.

Mason said the project has three components — the Martha Ellen Tye Playhouse, the civic center with the reception hall and meeting spaces and the art gallery.

“We think the economic drivers are the reception and meeting space capabilities and the art collection which has been under wraps for many years,” he said. “We want to open it up and let the public enjoy. We’ve seen in other states, other economic opportunities have been driven through similar collections. We have the potential to do the same thing.”

Thompson asked if the center has a long-term commitment from the Fisher family to keep the art in the building. Mason said the family wants the art to remain in Marshalltown and housed in a proper gallery.

“They want the public to see it and use it and it is the property of this community — in a nutshell,” he said.

Gregoire said Bill Fisher donated the art and the facility to Marshalltown with the intention it was going to be an enhancement and economic driver.

Since the funding request was only listed as a discussion item for Tuesday’s meeting, Thompson asked for it to be added to the July 6 Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting agenda. He said that will give county officials time to research how to utilize the ARPA funds for the project.

In other business:

The supervisors received a petition from residents of Wolf Lake addition south of Marshalltown to improve road conditions. Kurt Hoffmeister told the supervisors the deteriorating roads need serious repair or possibly replacement. Hoffmeister said the petition was signed by most of the residents at the 57 Wolf Lake homes and could have obtained more as visitors and servicemen have complained about damage to cars and tires.

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or

lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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