Progress on Kalona community center detailed
KALONA — A possible partnership between the Mid-Prairie School District and the City of Kalona has a major step under way with a community survey due April 15, the council learned Monday. The survey, an effort of the now formally named Kalona Building Needs Assessment Committee (KBNA), is going to all residents, specifically to determine if a center is wanted and what it should contain, City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said.
Once the survey is done, reviewed and tabulated, the committee will make a recommendation to the council. Jody Bailey, an urban planner, is assisting with this plan, as well as with the creation of the English River Watershed Authority to provide flood mitigation for 14 cities and three counties along the river.
The KBNA. entirely a volunteer advisory body, meets regular at 7 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of the month and will review not only the feasibility of the joint project, but also how it will be financed.
The Mid-Prairie District already has announced plans to seek a bond issue in 2014 that would, among other improvements, include a multi-court gym for the middle school in Kalona. The site is large enough to accommodate a community center and the necessary parking. If the joint project proceeds, there will be a 28E agreement between the district and the city that, reportedly, will address ownership, operation, maintenance and financing. To date, Mid-Prairie has an offer of major private donations to finance the gym.
During Monday’s meeting, a Kalona resident asked about costs, noting that the city also has some major infrastructure plans for its sewer system.
“This will not take away from the infrastructure,” said Schlabaugh, explaining that project is under way, and that the center still “has a lot of planning” ahead. He stressed that “until we know what the community wants,” a “rough figure” is not possible.
He added that the survey includes Mid-Prairie patrons, not just city residents and, aside from hard copy distribution in the area, is available on line. In fact, he noted, completion online “is ideal for us.”
In other business, the council:
•received an estimate of $5,000 to $7,000 for the detailed engineering study of the west drainage ditch (also known as Selvesen Creek), part of a larger flood mitigation effort resulting from the final Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMS) mapping of the city;
•learned that the first Watershed meeting is set for 7 p.m. April 24 in North English. Schlabaugh said the University of Iowa based Iowa Flood Center will assist with the plan, noting that the “brunt’ of it involves Wellman, Kalona and Riverside. Bailey is the coordinator for Kalona. Schlabaugh also asked for a council representative for the meeting;
•received an update on the $62,000 city park renovation project that includes a new basketball court, swings and an enclosed shelter. Kalona also received a Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) grant to help with it.
•discussed a compost site and burning in the city with Schlabaugh explaining that when it comes to composting, Kalona does not have the right site and even if it did there woudl have to be a fence, hours and management. Instead, the council agreed to review the burning ordi ance, especially with regard to weather conditions, and possibly to banning burn barrels;
•approved a winter permit for sales at the Kalona Historical Village; and
•discussed finding sites for new bicycle racks in the downtown.