County foundation donates $250,000 to pool, gym project
The Recreational Facilities Task Force committee is one large step closer to funding a new gymnasium and outdoor pool in Fairfield thanks to a $250,000 donation from The Greater Jefferson County Foundation.
Committee member Dan Breen said the task force knew all along the foundation stood behind the project, but everyone was pleased by the generosity of the donation.
“We are really excited that the foundation came up with this kind of support,” he said. “I was confident the foundation would support the project since it reflects the community and the kind of support we have.”
Ever since the November election the task force has been busy soliciting donations from the county’s larger companies and organizations. The election was crucial in showing Fairfield’s support for the project, said Breen, when citizens voted 2-1 in favor of paying $3 million in general obligation bonds to help build the two facilities.
Breen said the foundation was a natural fit as it reflects “the heartbeat of the community.”
The Greater Jefferson County Foundation was established in the 1970s to help fund educational, civic, cultural and charitable pursuits in the community. To that end, the foundation offers grants, scholarships and educational training.
Dave Neff, vice president of Iowa State Bank and public relations officer for the foundation, said the finance committee reviewed its donation history to evaluate how much it could reasonably give in the next five years. Neff said the $250,000 will be given in installments for the next five years, and will be drawn from local grant funds and the Endow Iowa Fund.
Breen said the foundation is not unusual in opting to stagger its contribution across several years.
“We have a number of people and organizations making donations over a period of time,” he said.
Neff said the foundation found the project compelling because it would impact such a large number of residents.
“So many families are represented by this project, when you look at the number of children who learned how to swim in the Fairfield municipal pool,” said Neff. “We feel the outdoor swimming pool is an integral part of quality of life in Fairfield and in Jefferson County.”
When asked if the foundation is directing its funds solely to the pool, Neff responded, “It’s a package deal, it’s not one or the other. We are saying we want the pool and gym to become a success.”
The foundation also has volunteered to manage private donations made to the project. Neff said the foundation will hold the funds until the $7 million goal is reached.
Breen said the committee’s “first focus has been on the community’s largest contributors.”
While some companies have already stepped forward, such as First National Bank, which pledged $150,000 in December, others have been slower to commit to a dollar amount. Breen said he expects some of the town’s largest employers to make announcements in the coming weeks.
In order to build and reopen the outdoor pool by the summer of 2014, the task force set a goal of raising all of the funds by the end of April. That way, construction of the pool and gym could begin this summer.
“That doesn’t mean we have to be completed by April 30, but we want the pool to be open as soon as possible,” said Breen.
In February, Breen said volunteers are gearing up to approach the public for individual contributions. He said they’ll be giving volunteers a packet of information with talking points so they’ll be “informed about the project.”
“We’re ready to roll that out,” he said. “We’re going to get really aggressive at enlisting people in the community to seek funds.
“We would hope anyone within the community with financial means is asked by someone,” he said.
Breen said the foundation’s donation has reinforced the committee’s goals.
“It’s another step in demonstrating the broad support we have,” he said, “and the sense of hope that we can actually do this.”