Tri States Public Radio Staff
Sun April 8, 2012
Lee County To Determine Contribution
The ball is in Lee County’s court when it comes to the future of a proposed sports complex in western Fort Madison.
The $3.4-million project calls for the construction of three soccer/football fields and three baseball/softball diamonds near Fort Madison Community Hospital. Some of the land is being donated for the complex while the rest is being leased.
Public and private donations have crossed the $2.4-million mark. That includes $500,000 over the next two years from the city of Fort Madison.
The project is under consideration for state funding, as well, if the Lee County Board of Supervisors provides a larger contribution.
The supervisors originally pledged all of its hotel/motel tax revenue over the next three years. The contribution sounds much larger than it actually is as the county tends to receive less than $1,000/year from the tax.
Supporters of the complex say the Vision Iowa Board was very supportive of the project, but had some concerns about the size of the county’s contribution. They would like the county to provide at least $10,000/year for the next five years.
The Board of Supervisors plans to vote Monday afternoon on whether to increase the contribution. The vote will come two days before the project goes before the Vision Iowa Board’s Community Attraction and Tourism Review Committee.
Board of Supervisors Chairperson Janet Fife-LaFrenz says it is time to resolve the issue.
A vote occurring last week could play a role in next week’s decision.
The Board voted 4-1 to provide $100,000 for Keokuk Area Hospital. The money will be used as a match for state and/or federal funding.
Supervisor Rick Larkin of Fort Madison made sure to mention, after the vote, how he, as a north Lee County representative, supported a south Lee County project.
The other three yes votes for the hospital funding (Janet Fife-Lafrenz, Larry Kruse, and Gary Folluo) all opposed the funding for the sports complex in Fort Madison.
Keokuk’s mayor is confident his city council will vote on making a contribution to Keokuk Area Hospital within the next few weeks.
Several supervisors questioned why they were acting before the Keokuk City Council when they voted, last week, to fund the hospital.
Mayor Tom Marion says details with Keokuk’s contribution are still being worked out. He says he will push for a vote on either April 19th or May 3rd.
Marion says the contribution would be $100,000, though he does not know where it will come from at this point.
Several aldermen have expressed concerns about contributing money if there is not a plan in place to change how the hospital operates. Marion says the facility is doing everything it can to adapt to the changing world of health care.
A property with multiple storage units and piles of scrap metal near Fort Madison Community Hospital could lead Lee County start talking zoning.
The hospital wants the county to do something about its appearance, since it is outside of city limits. Chairperson Janet Fife-LaFrenz says there is nothing the Board of Supervisors can do because there is no zoning in the county.
She says the board should discuss zoning in the future, as this is not the first time such an issue has come before the panel. The discussion would not take place, though, until after the county’s general plan is completed and approved.