Plans to move forward with the community center were discussed with members of Emmetsburg City Council last week.
"We wanted to give you an update about what is going on," said Kirk Haack, a member of the Community Center Steering Committee.
"We've had a lot of discussion over the summer with the South Bay group," he said. "It is the consensus of the board to go with the building that was originally approved by the council, and again approved by the council later on."
DIRTWORK?UNDERWAY - Workers from Valley Contracting of Estherville began dirtwork on the site of an assisted living facility adjacent to Lakeside Lutheran Home. The new facility will be constructed to the north of the Lakeside facility, facing the golf course on North Superior. - Dan Voigt photo
The proposed facility will seat approximately 300 to 325 people.
"A group of folks from several different committees met with the architect that originally did some sketches for us,"?Haack told the council. "We reconfigured that a little bit to take into account some suggestions and conversations with the citizens group and with a competing proposal that was presented, as far as some of the interior design. Some of that has been incorporated to help with some of the flow issues."
Haack noted that members of the Community Center Steering Committee are meeting with small groups to make presentations and present a slide show. They also have a video that Tom Vance produced.
"This is all building to some large community meetings and beginning the fund raising over the winter," he said.
Council members and community members in the audience watched the video. The message stated:
"Care has been taken to plan and construct a facility that is attractive, can provide for its ongoing operations and is cost effective for decades to come.
"The new center takes advantage of the ongoing investment our community has made in Five Island Lake - an investment that has multiplied itself by tapping a natural asset most communities would love to have as an attraction, one that provides activities for everyone who chooses to enjoy them - resident and visit alike.
"Let's enjoy the facility, the relationships that can be nurtured and the pride that Emmetsburg can have in the new community center.
"Communities are changing and an opportunity is before us. The invitation is out. Let's join together for growth - opportunity and enjoyment."
"Our plan now is to get some information out to the folks and then we need to generate some excitement about this," Haack told the council. "Then, of course, we've got to raise some money. Per your direction this facility is not going to have any debt to build this facility."
"We're down to just about $800,000 left to fund raise," said Steering Committee member Kelly Bay. "That doesn't include any applications that we could put toward a casino grant. $250,000 has already been committed to this project. It's a fantastic start."
Councilman Bill Burdick questioned, "Does that include the $100,000 spent on the new cart shed out there?"
Haack answered, no.
Councilman Steve Finer added, "That's not the community center."
Burdick added, "We designated $500,000 to start with and we've already taken $100,000 from that account. Correct?"
Councilman Brian Campbell said, "No. We borrowed the money. It will be replaced."
"One of the things we were unable to come to an agreement with the concerned citizens was the size," said Kelly Bay. "We've done further research since our meeting with them and gotten quotes from local caterers - 300 to 350 from San Dan's in Graettinger and Vicky's Country Catering in Fenton, who do a lot of events in the area. We really feel if we did go with a smaller facility we'd take ourselves out of that market and have a lot of problems cash flowing in the future."
"I feel more comfortable with the fact that you have met with them and you have worked out some of the differences and incorporated some of their ideas," said Campbell. "It makes me feel comfortable that we have a broader base of input."
"I agree," said Kelly Bay. "I do believe the reworking of the floor plan is just a huge positive for the center. It looks great."
Campbell noted that there are concerns about parking for 300 people. "You've addressed that with overflow. I can see it going up around that nice new paved road, for overflow parking."
"We're excited about it and think it's going to be a real anchor for all the money this community has spent on making this lake an asset for the area," said Haack. "We're seeing all kinds of building on both sides of the lake. I?doubt that we can envision everything positive that's going to happen in the future, but this should be a great leverage point for us for economic development, for bringing people, dollars and families to this community."
Campbell added, "I would hope people would realize that, like any other business start up, it's not going to turn a profit the first quarter."
"That's built into the business plan," said Haack.
"We've got $100,000 set aside for losses to cover for the first five years," added Kelly Bay.'
"When do you think you can break ground? Hoping by spring?"?asked Burdick.
"I don't know if that's realistic, given the timeline we have now," answered Haack. "When you're working with four or five different committees, just getting everybody together to make decisions takes a lot of time."
Burdick then asked about the CAT grant. Emmetsburg's application is still on the agenda.
"When we get to a certain dollar amount, we'll be eligible," said Community Developer Steve Heldt.
Projected cost of the Emmetsburg community center is $2.5 million.