Community Center pros/cons are cordially discussed
By Cheryl Parker

About 25 Jesup residents gathered at the City Hall community room last Thursday night to learn more about the proposed general obligation bond which will appear on the ballot November 2. The impetus behind the $2.5 million GO Bond is a desire by City officials and some residents to construct a Community Center on the north edge of Jesup.

City councilperson Todd Rohlfsen has been spearheading this focus group to determine the needs and wishes of the community for about a year. Several candidates for mayor and councilperson were there listening to community input.

The proposed community building will consist of three components:

1. A local business has requested a 3,000 square foot area to expand its current operation. This area would be leased as soon as it is available.

2. A 6,500 square foot Community Center/Multi-Purpose space could provide fitness and wellness space, including a gymnasium. Jesup Community Recreation intends to utilize this area during certain times; it would be available to other groups and individuals at other times.

3. The Right Place Child Care Center, Inc., would like to lease the remaining 6,000 square foot area. The Right Place is a 501(c)(3) organization which recognizes the need for childcare in Jesup and has been working to determine needs and funding sources.

Income Producing

All three components will be income-producing sources for the city, once established, although not necessarily self-supporting.

Community Recreation is currently utilizing gym space at Jesup Community School, and is totally supported by user fees. The school-sanctioned sports take priority, so children enrolled in Community Recreation programs are practicing at hours not suitable for that age group. An additional gym would alleviate that. The Focus Group was working closely with Buchanan County Health Center president Steven Slessor to provide other health and wellness options. When Slessor left BCHC, the partnership halted with his departure.

The daycare center will produce user fees, but will not be fully operational on day one. The daycare group is actively seeking grant money to help with startup and other costs.

Rohlfsen said following the publication of the building’s blueprints in the Citizen Herald, he was advised some changes in design would save some costs. The architect was consulted and those changes have been made. Rohlfsen also reminded the group that if the bond issue is approved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to happen. See related story on Page 2 about what needs to be in place before the project begins.

Mayor Even told the group that two bond issues are expiring in the next two years, and with the absence of those levies, the proposed Community Center bond issue, as well as other projects, could be completed with virtually no change in the tax levy. (See his letter below.)

What People Think

Here is what is on people’s minds:

Do we have any binding agreements from the parties involved?

No, just good will and a handshake.

Are there health risks in having the daycare facility playground so close to the MidAmerican Transom Station?

Becky Elson (lead person of the daycare group) consulted with MidAmerican last year and they said area outside of the wall is safe.
The daycare area is not nearly big enough! There is no room for expansion! The city will address these issues as they come up.

Will the Community Center space be large enough to accommodate Community Rec?

Yes, the floor is large enough to mark lines for volleyball, basketball, kickball, and pickleball.

Will the facility sell memberships?

That is certainly an option.

Does the proposed bond issue include both the purchase of ground and the construction of the building and related utility and miscellaneous costs?

Yes. The ground is not currently in city limits. It will need to be annexed, and then receive city water/sewer.

Will the city be responsible for providing salaries to daycare workers?

No. The leasing party, The Right Place Child Care Inc., will be responsible for all costs of the daycare center.

How much income will the city receive from the leasing parties?

This remains to be seen. It is estimated the retail area will bring in approximately $3,000/month. The daycare program will collect fees from parents (and possibly other sources) and use that to fund their rent. Parties utilizing the Community Center will be charged for their space and time.

What hours will the daycare be open? Will they be able to find care providers?

We don’t know. Generally, hours are 6 am – 6 pm. We don’t know about the labor pool.

Read the rest of the story in the Oct. 13 Citizen Herald.
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