About 20 St. Edward residents were on hand for an information meeting and discussion on plans for the new community building Sunday afternoon, Jan. 6.
Dean Hamling, former mayor and now a city councilman, started by explaining the history of the project. The present community building has structural problems, he said.
“If you go outside and look at the lower sill line, you can see that the building has settled,” said Hamling. “Also, if you go to the southeast corner and look at the upper east wall, you’ll see areas where bricks are missing.”
The current building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility, and there are also issues with the kitchen and restrooms he said.
An inspection several years ago revealed that an expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars would be needed to bring the current building up to code.
Planning for a possible new community center began about four years ago, and a committee of eight members was formed in October of 2017. The city received a $10,000 matching grant from the state to finance the planning process with JEO Consulting Engineers.
Many meetings were held with the engineers to determine the building size, location, costs and other details.
The building size was originally proposed at 120 x 120 feet, but was reduced to the current 90 x 96 foot steel building due to cost. Cost estimate for the current plan is $1.3 million.
The city is finalizing the purchase of a lot, measuring 132 x 132 feet, located across the street east of the football field, which would allow for parking and would be convenient for use by the school. This lot is also outside the floodplain, which is an important qualification for receiving the grant.
The committee decided to make a proposal for additional sales tax, because this is something the whole community pays and does not add to property tax load, Hamling said. The additional half cent sales tax would be expected to raise an average of $32,000 per year, funding a city-issued bond of $460,000 over that time.
Grants for community building projects are available through the Nebraska Civic and Community Center Financing Fund. The maximum grant for St. Edward, based on population, is $562,000.
Michelle Olson, executive director of the Boone County Development Agency (BCDA) expressed confidence that the grant application would be approved. However, the grant application deadline is Feb. 15, just three days after the special election to be held Feb. 12.
If the sales tax measure passes and the grant is secured, it will still be necessary to raise about $300,000 for the project through a fund-raising campaign.
“We will need to come up with at least $100,000 in matching funds through pledges before Feb. 15,” said Hamling, “and then we would still need to raise about $200,000 more.”
Read the complete story in the Jan. 9 issue of the St. Edward Advance.