After a 3-3 vote Tuesday, Creston City Council failed to provide committee members of the McKinley Park Aquatic Center project with what they were hoping for: a date for a public hearing for August 2 to discuss a possible loan agreement and issuance of money from the city’s general obligation fund after nearly $500,000 was requested by the committee July 6.
At the time of the request, Sam Baird spoke on behalf of MPAC and the council was unable to take any action.
During the July 6 meeting, Baird told the council MPAC had raised more than $1,073,000 in cash donations, grants and pledges for the first phase of the project, which is estimated at $1.8 million. The council’s financial commitment was needed to secure $225,000 of money pledged and to apply for a catalyst grant. The MPAC team was also hoping to apply for an additional $250,000 in grants.
“My concern is I would have liked to have seen more skin in the game by MPAC,” said Rich Madison, Ward 2 representative. “They’ve raised approximately 8% of the total project. Yes, there were those who made commitments and pledges, but those were all tied to the city coming up with a big chunk. I almost feel it’s slightly blackmail in that way. I don’t like that. I’d like to see more fundraising done. I have no opposition to the project itself.”
In November 2019, MPAC set out to secure a $2 million bond for the pool’s renovation project. However, the referendum failed as only 47.35% voted in favor of the project. Sixty percent of the vote was needed to pass. After the bond failed, the project was split into a three-phase fundraising effort. A $200,000 endowment for the future maintenance of the pool is included in the first phase.
At-Large Representative Terry Freeman said despite his support of the project, the city has other projects that need attention.
“I just don’t feel at this particular moment in time our city should take a $500,000 to nearly three-quarter of a million dollar loan out,” said Freeman. “We have a city street department building that’s in desperate need of repair. We have a replacement. Todd, I’m sure will tell you that the fire department is seriously lacking space and needs attention. So, one of the things my wife holds me to is wants and needs, and as much as I support the end project. I just don’t know, in my own humble opinion, and in two, I’m sorry, I’ve gotten two texts and one phone call, in those opinions, I don’t think that this is the best investment of our money at this point in time.”
Council members Brenda Lyell-Keate, Jocelyn Blazek and Matt Levine voted yes. At-Large Representative Ron Higgins was absent.