Council approves March bond vote for $2.8 million

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Wave of the Future Committee co-chairs Jim Osterhaus, above, and Bob Merrick recommended a council resolution for a March bond election. The recommendation was unanimously approved. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

More than 30 people gathered at the Monday, Dec. 4, meeting of the Guttenberg city council. Dr. Robert Merrick and Dr. Jim Osterhaus, co-chairs of the Wave of the Future campaign, presented the council with an update on the project and recommended that the council approve a resolution calling for a bond vote of up to $2.8 million to help fund the new pool and bathhouse. 

“The Wave of the Future Committee has been working tirelessly in pursuit of the dream of constructing a new municipal pool,” Osterhaus addressed the mayor, city manager and council. He cited campaign volunteers working in teams to reach out to neighbors, groups hosting fundraisers like the Very Merry Market, the pool party at Lakeside, and various meals, and regular attendance at monthly committee meetings.

“Vendors continue to come forth with donations. At an earlier fall meeting, Burbach Aquatics consultants estimated $300,000 - 400,000 in donations from vendors. In addition, there is ongoing outreach for other in-kind services,” said Osterhaus. “The current estimate for grant funds is between $300,000 and $750,000, but this is dependent on funders’ capacity in the spring/summer of 2018, which we can estimate but not guarantee.”

Osterhaus also addressed questions that continue to be raised in the community. “A frequent question is, ‘Can the project be paired down?’ The answer is no. This is the scaled down version. The only way to reduce the bond is for the current fundraising effort to exceed $1.2 million,” he explained. 

“Another question concerns building an indoor facility. This has been thoroughly studied by the committee and the $7 million price tag along with the annual operating expenses make an indoor facility simply cost prohibitive.”

Merrick reported on funds currently raised toward the $1.2 million goal. “I think the committee has done an incredible job here with this fundraising… As of earlier this afternoon, we have already received $644,852 in pledges,” he told those in attendance. “More gifts continue to come in, including an additional $55,000, which brings us a few dollars short of $700,000. 

“Even if we take the low estimate of in-kind services and vendors, we’re up to $1 million right there. That does not include any grant funds, which if received as expected puts us way above the $1.2 million goal,” Merrick explained. “This gives us the confidence to recommend a council resolution for a bond election on March 6 for up to $2.8 million for a new municipal swimming pool, with a firm possibility the $2.8 million will not all be needed. However, we will need this capacity in case expected grants are not awarded.”

Mayor Loven opened the floor for questions from the council, and none were raised. Council member Fred Schaub made a motion to adopt the resolution, which was seconded by Austin Greve. City Manager Denise Schneider took a roll call vote and the motion carried without opposition. The council also approved the next phase of Burbach Aquatics involvement with the project, which will assist the Wave of the Future committee in preparing for the March bond vote. 

Fundraisers continue to be held with the intention of lowering the amount of the bond, with January events being scheduled by the Eagles Club, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and the Guttenberg Rotary Club.

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