Supervisors approve $25,000 for pool, gym project
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pledge $25,000 to the pool and gym project at its weekly meeting today.
The pledge will consist of a series of five contributions of $5,000 in a span of five years. The pledge is conditional on the Fairfield pool and gym task force receiving a Community Attraction and Tourism grant from Vision Iowa.
Task force committee chairman Tom McMahon told the supervisors the task force has scaled back the size of the project in the past month in response to the March 4 vote in which residents in the unincorporated area of the county voted down a proposal to contribute $1 million toward the pool and gym. The project is now expected to cost approximately $8.5 million, about $2 million less than before.
The task force is planning to save about $1 million by moving the pool from the original location of O.B. Nelson Park to an area south and west of the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center. McMahon said the outdoor pool would be able to share a bathhouse with the existing indoor pool, and the size of the outdoor pool would be reduced to save money.
Despite the task force’s new plans for a less expensive pool and gym, it is still counting on a significant contribution from Vision Iowa. The task force has applied for a grant in excess of $1 million, although McMahon said it’s difficult to know exactly how much Vision Iowa will award. He said he hopes it will award the task force at least $500,000.
McMahon told the supervisors that a contribution from the county was critical in securing a CAT grant. He said Vision Iowa wouldn’t even look at the task force’s application without some level of county support. McMahon asked the supervisors for a contribution of $25,000, reminding them that the county had contributed a similar amount to other large community projects such as the construction of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
Supervisor Dick Reed said an outdoor pool and a gymnasium would be great for the county’s youth. He said he hates to see young people in the area spend their summers with no pool to go to. He said the county could contribute $5,000 per year for five years. However, he wanted the pledge to be conditional on the task force receiving a CAT grant.
The supervisors and McMahon talked about whether the county could do some form of in-kind contribution, such as helping to haul away debris from the construction site. Reed said that was unlikely given the amount of work the road crews have to do already, which includes maintaining 1,000 miles of roads in the county.
Supervisor Lee Dimmitt voted in favor of the motion to pledge the money, but was initially hesitant to do so. He asked why the county spent $20,000 on two elections concerning the pool and gym project if it wasn’t going to honor the result of the elections, which was to deny a $1 million contribution.
McMahon jumped in by saying there had been three votes in the county about the project, one of which was the city voters supporting a $3 million bond for the pool and gym. Reed added that the two most recent votes against funding the pool and gym task force were only for the county’s unincorporated areas and that he has a responsibility to represent all 16,000 people in the county. He said he would vote in favor of contributing money to the project given the task force needed county support to obtain the CAT grant.