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City Council hears about proposed multi-purpose center from committee



This news story was published on May 25, 2011.
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The Mason City City Council and Mayor were presented with the findings from the multi-purpose center committee on Tuesday night. The seven member committee has been working on gathering information since early November of last year. Above: The multi-purpose committee prepares to present to the city council.|The Mason City City Council and Mayor were presented with the findings from the multi-purpose center committee on Tuesday night. The seven member committee has been working on gathering information since early November of last year.

At a City Council meeting on Novemer 2nd, 2010, the Mason City City Council agreed to appoint a 7-member fact-finding team regarding a proposed multi-purpose center in downtown Mason City. The Mayor and all six city council members later each made a selection to the committee. The committee is made up of the following Mason City residents: Sue Armour, Jerry Bahnsen, Lowell Butler, Mike Degan, Brandi Evers, Tim Latham and Sonny Onoo.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, committee chairman Tim Latham told the mayor and council that each member worked diligently to present a unified plan. “We worked hard. This is one of the finer committees that I have worked with. We respected each other’s opinions,” Latham said.

The committee’s goal was to come up with information and present a report that would held guide the city on the proposed project. The information the committee gathered would help city staff make better decisions in the planning of the project and making decisions as to whether the project should move forward. Some of the questions the committee tried to find answers to were 1) who would use the facility, based on current and future needs that are unmet and 2) What is the best estimated size of a complex for Mason City and the benefits and challenges of running it.

The committee described a multi-use arena with two sheets of ice that could be used for countless events and shows as well as sporting events and concerts. The committee wanted to stress that the idea was to come up with a complex that woul dnot compete with other venues like NIACC’s auditorium and the Surf Ballroom.

Virtually everyone involved with this project agrees that the chances of a multi-purpose center “paying for itself” are slim; city taxpayers would likely end up subsidizing it in some way. However, the intangible dollars generated from having the complex in the downtown area may very well out-weigh those costs. Committee members described a scenario where people in the surrounding areas would see Mason City as a destination to visit, and spend money, generating tax dollars.

Another benefit would be moving the Parks and Recreation departments into the facility, thus saving thousands of dollars each year in rent that the city currently pays for using office space in Mohawk Square.

An interesting concept introduced by the committee was a hotel/destination water park that would compliment the multi-purpose arena. According to the committee, Iowa does not have an indoor “destination” water park. Committee member Sue Armour said that Iowa has indoor water parks attached to hotels, but those are not “destination” water parks. The difference seems to be in the size and amenities offered by one of these larger water parks versus a hotel that happens to include a water park.

Moving forward, the city will take the report offered by the committee and let city staff look over the findings and determine if the project fits for Mason City. The data in the report will hopefully guide a project in the future if it is determined that it works. Funding the project will be a major hurdle but Mayor Eric Bookmeyer mentioned that there are many ways this can be, possibly without greatly affecting taxpayers. Any bonding amount over $700,000 would force the city to put the item on a ballot to be decided by voters.

Watch video of presentation:


Downtown area of Mason City near the Fire Station that could be a part of a redevelopment plan that includes a multi-purpose arena.

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