Brenda Hollingsworth spoke to the Winterset City Council on behalf of the Iowa Theater asking for a monetary contribution since the theater had been renovated and would have qualified for the Community Development Block Grant had renovations not already been started.
“I don’t think anyone here in this room would argue how important the theater is to the downtown and the impact it had when someone purchased that and renovated it,” Hollingsworth said, adding that what some of the council might not know was that after renovation, the theater had been turned over to the community to be run as a non-profit.
“And so while it is holding its own through sales and other fund-raisers, it’s difficult to come up with extra to pay down debt,” Hollingsworth said. She asked the council to consider providing $25,000 towards the theater, since the theater had not been able to participate in the CDBG money that provided funds for the downtown facade renovations.
According to Hollingsworth, the city’s contribution to fixing other buildings as part of the downtown facade project was to the tune of around $40,000 per building.
requests funds for nature center
The council also heard a presentation from the Madison County Conservation Department requesting $25,000 in funds to help build a new conservation nature center. The conservation department requested the $25,000 be paid in increments of $5,000 per year. The nature center is a 4.8 million dollar project, with the conservation department having monetary commitments for around $3.7 million of that.
The conservation department is about to submit a $500,000 request for a Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant from the state and “as part of that process, the CAT grant committee will most likely request the city have money involved in the process to show a commitment of public support”, said Conservation Director Jim Liechty.
“We are anticipating over 100,000 people a year will go through the center, those will have to come through Winterset to get to the park,” Liechty said, pointing out the additional economic impact the nature center would provide for the city. Liechty said the state would replace the entire road system in Pammel next year through a state grant program the department applied for.
“We’re looking for a pledge to use as leverage to be considered for the grant,” Liechty said, adding that they had to submit the application by July 15.
The council agreed to pledge the $25,000 to the conservation project over a period of five years, beginning in fiscal year 2021 when more budget funds will be available.
The vote was unanimous with the exception of councilman Trevor Bindel, who said that while he was not against the project, the city had asked all departments to make budget cuts this year and he could not see spending money.
Mayor Jim Olson asked that the council “keep the theater in mind” as well.
The council took no action yet on the Iowa Theater’s request, choosing to wait until the facade project “narrowed down” to see what, if any funding was available.