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Mason City mayor says arena construction to begin next month, promises big year for Mason City


This news story was published on January 2, 2019.
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Soon-to-be home for a multi-purpose arena.

MASON CITY – Mayor Bill Schickel planned to announce in his “State of the City” speech Wednesday that groundbreaking for the new River City Multipurpose Arena is scheduled to take place by February with completion by the end of the year.

“We have finally lifted River City Renaissance out of the ditch and back on the road to success,” Schickel said in an advance text of his remarks.

The multipurpose arena is part of the long delayed $38-million downtown plan that was approved by voters more than a year ago.
Schickel also called for a river walk in the downtown area “that rivals San Antonio.” The idea is outlined in the Willow Creek Master plan, which Schickel said needs to be implemented.

In another area, he said continuing efforts to fix blighted properties will mean “safer neighborhoods, better housing and increased property values.”

“The City needs to lead by example. We have no business enforcing code violations on others if city properties aren’t up to snuff,” he said.

He said 2019 “is a year filled with promise” and described Mason City as “the up-and-coming, low-cost, high quality of life location for workers and families.”

Schickel will give his remarks at 7 p.m. tonight during the regular City Council meeting in the Mason City Room at the Public Library.

Mayor Bill Schickel

Mayor Bill Schickel’s State of the City 1-2-19:

Members of the city council, distinguished guests and friends.

Before I begin, let me say thank you to our city council, boards and commissions, staff and community partners. You’ve done great work this past year.  Also, thank you to the people of Mason City for allowing me another year of doing what I love, serving all of you.

I am happy to report the state of the city is good as we begin a new year filled with promise.

No question, the past year had its challenges. But it was also a time of accomplishment:

We hired Aaron Burnett as City Administrator. And Fire Chief Erik Bullinger, along with twenty-six other new hires. That is about 11% of our workforce. Welcome. Thank you for joining our team of public servants.

Eight businesses have been upgraded, eight neighborhoods improved.  All is made possible by our small business loan plan. We pay for the loans with the new property value the improvements generate.

Our neighborhoods are safer because of the city’s new fireworks ordinance. It may well become a model for other communities.

Driving is safer because of highway improvements. This includes the reconstruction of the north side of Highway 122, Highway 65 North, and the replacement of the 12th Street Northwest bridge.

Our community is cleaner due to strong code enforcement.   Seven properties were tagged for what is known as 657A action. This lets the city petition the court for the title to unsafe and abandoned properties. This is in addition to our standard code enforcement for things like weeds, trash and junk cars.

The city responded quickly to major flooding this summer.  We immediately launched our long term flood mitigation plan.

Our economic development team is working with ten active business prospects. They have a potential of creating 1,000 new jobs. It could be a $150 million capital investment.  

Tourism topped $100 million for the first time. A re-energized Main Street Mason City is revitalizing downtown. The Chamber finished three “Building Our Brand” murals. Look for more this year.  Alliant Energy is placing all utilities underground in the Commercial Alley neighborhood.

In April we launched Vision North Iowa. It’s a bold five-year strategy for community prosperity.

The Government Finance Officers Association again awarded Mason City the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. It’s the highest recognition the association gives.

After twenty-seven years of waiting, Central Heights is on the verge of having paved streets.

The biggest accomplishment has admittedly been the most frustrating.  But, we have finally lifted River City Renaissance out of the ditch and back on the road to success.  

Here’s the very latest. In recent days your city council has:

Hired architects to design and coordinate building a state-of-the-art multipurpose arena. ICON Architectural Group, of Grand Forks ND, has designed similar facilities throughout the Midwest. They are a recognized leader in this kind of construction. We’re delighted to have the architects with us this evening. They will be sharing more with us shortly.

Hired Gatehouse Capital as the developer of a new Music Man Square Hotel and Conference Center.  Again, they have built similar facilities across the country.

City staff is meeting regularly with all of our project partners: Mason City Youth Hockey, North Iowa Figure Skating, The North Iowa Bulls, Music Man Square, Southbridge Mall, the Performing Arts Pavilion Committee and NIACC, among others.

The architects have also been listening to our project partners. They want the design to be in keeping with Mason City’s Prairie School architecture and musical heritage.  They encourage synergy between the multipurpose center, mall, performing arts pavilion, hotel, conference center and historic downtown.

So why are we doing this? Why is it so important? Here’s why: One reason is Mason City’s continuing decline in population.  In the last decade, Cerro Gordo County lost 1,400 residents. We have a smaller than average population of young working age people. We need to turn this around. The first thing companies looking to relocate or expand ask about is a qualified work force. If we continue to lose working age people, we won’t have enough workers.  Our Vision North Iowa strategy puts it this way: The key is to “champion…placemaking projects. The kind that…create needed community amenities for young workers and families.”

Let’s not kid ourselves. The current retail trend will continue.  Communities that fail to repurpose their old shopping malls will be left behind.

Mason City won’t be left behind.  Instead, we will be a shining example of preserving our history while preparing for the future.

Let me address squarely the question of who pays. It will be paid for primarily with three main sources. Private investment by the developer will pay almost 40%.  A State Grant will pay an additional 25%. The balance of 35% will be paid with the new property taxes the plan will generate. This is in accordance with the two bond issues approved by the voters. There will be no new taxes if it is successful. And I believe it will be.

If, at a date in the future, the project fails or does not cash flow, then taxes could go up. But the same could be said for virtually any city undertaking.

What will certainly require new taxes is failure to move forward.  If we fail to take action, property values in our downtown will continue to deteriorate. Taxes will need to be raised to make up the difference. And, if we keep losing people, taxes will go up to keep the same level of service. Fewer people means everyone pays more.

A side note: The delays have been frustrating. But they have not been without benefit. We now have a new tool to attract investors. The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act encourages developers seeking certain tax deferrals to invest in Mason City.  

So the New Year is indeed filled with promise.  Our 2019 priorities should include:

Groundbreaking for the River City Multipurpose Arena by February and completion by the end of the year.  With council’s approval tonight, the first construction bid will be let January 15th.

Putting the river back in River City. We can do this by implementing the Willow Creek Master Plan.  The beautiful river that flows through downtown was made famous in The Music Man. It has more potential today than ever. There is no reason Mason City can’t have a river walk that rivals San Antonio. Affordable mid range housing should be part of the mix in the river walk area.  

-Continuing efforts to address blighted property.  Success will deliver safer neighborhoods, better housing and increased tax revenue. The city needs to lead by example. We have no business enforcing code violations on others if city properties aren’t up to snuff.  

Imagine the possibilities, right here in River City.

Bigger cities are too often high-cost, congested and overrated. Mason City, on the other hand, is the up-and-coming, low-cost, high quality of life location for workers and families.

We have the location.

We have the transportation.

We have stable industries and hard working people.

We have everything we need to make 2019 the year of promise. Let’s get to work on making that promise a reality.  Our forefathers had a dream: That this city we love would be a shining example of a place where everything is possible. Thank you for doing your part to make that dream come true in the new year.

 

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64 Responses to Mason City mayor says arena construction to begin next month, promises big year for Mason City

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 15, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Out of the frying pan into the fire once again. the City is bound to run this down our throats. Not anywhere near enough research to know if this is a good deal for Mason City. But we can thank our City Fathers once again for acting without deep thinking. And who authorized using tax dollars for this ? We know the current Mall owner is a big time loser and we sure do not know enough about why all this is moving so fast right now> 15 days to bide project work ? WOW ! not much time, but GET R DONE and then ?????????

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 15, 2019 at 8:15 am

    Sounds like a very wise investment from Mason City’s finest, NOT! They’re all in it together to line their pockets with our tax dollars. Each and every one of them needs to be given the boot in the Arse and lead them out the door.

  3. Avatar

    a thought. Reply Report comment

    January 15, 2019 at 8:07 am

    The city should build a wall around the mall. That will appease all the nay sayers and haters. The wall would stop all those shoppers from getting in and spoil the plans the city has for the mall.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 15, 2019 at 2:14 am

    a majority of the projected revenue will be made from property tax. Under the exempt irs rule we have a little thing called “disqualified lease” clause. this property has a great case for filing a tax exempt under this rule.

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 14, 2019 at 1:58 am

    CALL FOR A REVOTE AND SEND ALL INFO ON THIS PROJECT TO THE DCI!!!

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 14, 2019 at 2:02 am

      Someone outside of the City needs to look at this and how it’s been handled and investigate it. The project, the books, the taxes… all of it. Then maybe the City will realize they just can’t do what they want and how they want with any other projects!!

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 14, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Announce a REVOTE IS WANTED due to changes to this project has from the original vote. Also with everything gone wrong with this project someone send it all to the DCI asking for
    AN INVESTIGATIONI INTO THIS, THE CITY COUNCIL AND COURTHOUSE with the tax cover up. Kill 3 birds with one stone. Send it all to the DCI. Expose it all. Shut down ALL these criminals that think they can do what ever they want.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 10, 2019 at 5:30 am

    You all sit and argue over all this shit they throw out there for diversion while they ALL ROB the citizens blind. Just like the school. AUDIT THE CITY AND THEN TURN IT OVER TO THE DCI TO INVESTIGATE. same with depts in the court house. One dept already has things that could also be turned in to the DCI to investigate… The office where Lewerke and Pat work should be already for the DCI to look at. Go above all these criminals ripping the city and school off…. before there is no city or schools left.

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 4, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Mayor Bill mentions 100 million in tourism, could the breakdown be shared with the community?

    I believe the challenge for growth falls upon the EDC team in Mason City. Does the team actually have the domestic and international experience as well as business connections to bring new employers to M.C and North Iowa? Ag related jobs are great but there are many other paths.
    Respectfully, I believe the EDC should be front and center of all the major discussions our city leaders and community have.
    If there exists 10 new prospects that could create 1,000 new jobs for North Iowa and (WOW!!!) 150 Million in capital investment this should be top priority for our community. Sideline everything else and focus on the opportunity. I understand that some of the prospects want the discussions confidential but the EDC could at least present to the city leaders and community the actual chances of winning the new business. And please city leaders work together to win these jobs.
    New jobs create tax dollars and new family’s/citizens will spend money all over North Iowa. It is the answer to many issues we have in M.C and North Iowa.
    On a side note North Federal finally got paved who ever made that happen good job. Please do the South End next..

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 4, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Consider this…Would if those 10 employer prospects which generate $150M in capital investment are telling your EDC that they are passing on your community because they don’t believe they can find a qualified workforce here???

      • Avatar

        billy bob Reply Report comment

        January 4, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        I would say, well a ice hockey rink and a motel aint going to bring them here either

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          January 4, 2019 at 2:02 pm

          Having a critical mass of quality of life enhancing infrastructure will keep young people here though (and in turn, make this an attractive location for employers to invest).

          But, boy do we have a long ways to go to reach any sort of critical mass from our decades of neglect and listening to the naysayers.

    • NIT Publisher

      NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      January 4, 2019 at 6:22 pm

      Good comment.

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 4, 2019 at 1:33 am

    I talked to a guy that use to be on the hockey board. He told me that they didn’t have any money then. so how could they have any money now? Also you people should be paying attention to what’s going on at the Park Board meetings.

  10. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    The paving of Central Heights will cost the people alot of money putting a hardship on many. I’d like to know what happened to the grant money for this.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 4, 2019 at 8:54 am

      School board got it and gave ort special raises

  11. Avatar

    Observer the Original Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    “Schickel also called for a river walk in the downtown area “that rivals San Antonio.””

    Where are the hundreds of thousands of dollars going to come from to accomplish this? San Antonio has a population of 1.5 million people. They can afford the shops and cafe’s and amenities. Mason City has 22 vacant store fronts in the Downtown alone. We do NOT have the tax base to afford such a project.

    “In another area, he said continuing efforts to fix blighted properties will mean “safer neighborhoods, better housing and increased property values.””

    While that might be true in some cases, there are properties, and certain property owners that snub City officials, and turn a blind eye towards our laws. Look at the buildings on 6th Street NE, boarded up for years. Some on the North End have complained to the City about one property owner in particular. Has he made any move to fixing up his buildings yet? Given his track record, I doubt it.

    “He said 2019 “is a year filled with promise” and described Mason City as “the up-and-coming, low-cost, high quality of life location for workers and families.””

    I see no indication of any move towards becoming an “up-and-coming location”. No new industries that pay a living wage have opened. Retail faltering. Restaurants and other establishments cannot get enough staff. One businessman told me he had to turn down additional work last season because he could not get employees. Population declining. Young people leaving because of better opportunities and wages.

    Take a drive through Mason City Mayor Schickel, look at the conditions that exist, especially in summer. Weed choked properties and businesses. Yes, even public property. You cannot throw money at the problems, it is cultural (mowing grass into the streets for example). Junk being stored on public property with impunity.

    Listen to the voices in the neighborhoods, even those here on NIT who have commented about junk yards in our neighborhoods, next to residential properties. One assumes that City officials and employees drive by them all the time. Yet why no action after years in existence?

    These generic remarks are at best, self-serving. Why not tell the taxpayers exactly what is being done, where, and when.

  12. Avatar

    Spike Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    You are going off the rails mr/ms anonymous. Someone states the truth and it doesn’t match yours, then you resort to becoming a dirt bag.What do you mean by them anyway?I don’t know Lionel personally but I know he gave a voice to people that needed help but maybe didnt have the means.Kind of an honorable position in my eyes.Let me also say as I had stated earlier the downtown project would be fantastic if it could stand on its own.I pay plenty of property taxes and don’t need more.So bill those in favor the overhead costs that revenue generated doesn’t cover.Other peoples money is easy to spend.

  13. Avatar

    Spike Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Pretty gutless resorting to name calling for Lionel Foster’s inconvenient truths.No big bag of money til its up and running and turning dollars.Just a tiny detail right?And to bring up an unrelated issue to try and smear him.If city officials got spanked and put in the corner, thats on them.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      Making money off of the tax payers that you didn’t earn is good in your eyes? He didn’t sue the individuals because theres no money there. He went after the city, and was paid by the tax payer. Good guy huh? Lionel has been milking his way through life just like the rest of them. Audit them all, go back 15 years if you can.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2019 at 6:02 pm

        @Anonymous-He had the money coming to him. It was just a damn shame they couldn’t make the ex-mayor pay it.

    • Avatar

      Lionel Foster Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      @Spike. Thanks for your intelligent reaction to my comments.

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    This reminds me so much of the sports writer at the Globe.
    He says don’t look at the score board to judge the caliber of the team?
    If you lose 50-7 you cant judge the team by that.
    Now with this, you cant judge the project by the dollars and cents and who may have to pay for it.
    This is why the rest of the state laughs at Mason City

  15. Avatar

    Really? Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 10:27 am

    nothing upsets me off more than the term public servant? The truth is every tax payer is a servant to the public employee

  16. NIT Publisher

    NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 10:18 am

    I’m all in favor of beautifying the river area through town. I mentioned this to a councilman this summer after looking at what Dubuque has done with theirs. I’m not sure how the City plans to actually follow thorough with this. I’d like to see a plan that can actually be implemented, not just some master plan with dust on it that is years old.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      We had a River Walk years ago at the library and it failed because no one used it after the new wore off and the maintenance went to hell because of the cost. Why do you think the one by the mall is not used. The drug heads took it over and no one else would go there.

      • NIT Publisher

        NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2019 at 5:12 pm

        Put cops on bikes and foot to patrol the “riverwalk” … they park in the mall lot to talk all the time. They can walk and talk at the same time, I assume. Breaking a sweat is not anti-labor. Some cameras here and there are not pricey, it’s 2019, they are everywhere. Take back the town from the sleazoids. Don’t let Beje Clark become the new town hall.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          January 3, 2019 at 5:59 pm

          To late. They already are. Time to get rid of that piece of crap. Get it out of our town and then clean the place up. Start by getting rid of Pickle and the city council Throw in the supervisors for good measure then add the school administration.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          January 3, 2019 at 8:20 pm

          Mason City does need to look at the assistance programs (Beje house, 4 oaks, flys) that are offered here and limit there numbers. I am not against helping other, but I don’t believe the companies can hire enough quality staff to manage them properly. Never understood Beje- why would you put all those people together and brag about the crap they have done and plant ideas in each other’s heads. As a parent I limit who my children hung around with, hanging around bad people leads to trouble. 4 oak and flys students are disrupting the schools and classrooms at the public schools. Transition house is limited in care provided to clients- Owners cash the checks for the assist but don’t provide the proper care. Keep the cash and hire a skeleton crew. If you don’t be beleive me on all of this, just ask the school teachers, hospitals, and law enforcement.

          • Avatar

            Anonymous

            January 3, 2019 at 8:43 pm

            If the students from those facilities are that disruptive, perhaps think of sending yours to a private school. In reality, your kids would come out far ahead.

          • Avatar

            Anonymous

            January 3, 2019 at 11:19 pm

            You are way off base on some of your comments. Four Oaks and FLYS have their own on-site classrooms. They are not disrupting our public schools. BeJe Clark is State facility. A half-way house to transition from prison to community. Four Oaks is a PMIC. A Psychiatric Mental Institution for Children, with many funding sources including grants, private donations/fundraising campaigns. As far as bad people, these kids have a mental illness. This hardly makes them bad. And, the majority of kids at FLYS are there due to severe physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, incarcerated parents, extremely dysfunctional homes with Drug and Alcohol and poverty etc. Those who are runaways, are fleeing those the types of situations. Funding sources are State, Grants, Private Fundraising Campaigns/Events. Local tax dollars are not a source of revenue. I just wanted to clarify with facts.

          • Avatar

            Anonymous

            January 4, 2019 at 7:41 am

            Thank you for a fact-based, intelligent response to the attack on assistive agencies. You are correct and make some good points. But, don’t expect much from those who post on here in terms of ‘thanks for the information’ because they believe what they want to believe and nothing else.

          • Avatar

            Anonymous

            January 4, 2019 at 7:56 am

            While I have nothing against the youth homes (they are needed for the drug related youth problems of today) We do not need a halfway house that brings criminals to our city. They work when incarcerated but stop work and go back to crime when they get out and they stay in our city. Did anyone ever wonder why we have a declining population and so many children that need help with alcohol and drug abuse?

  17. Avatar

    Foremer Resident Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Boy oh boy does the Mayor have it most awfully wrong!

    This project will decrease Mason City’s population. High taxation pushed us out. Over time, Mason City has spent over 75 million + dollars on the “so called” downtown and our taxes have doubled in the last 10 years. All while the population declines and nothing to show for it.

    We sold out and moved away because of this project. We foresee more failure and higher taxes. We had enough!

    Good luck, you are going to need it!

    • Avatar

      Former Resident Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 9:21 am

      Forgive my spelling of former. My computer has a mind of it’s own.

    • Avatar

      Observer the Original Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      I bet you moved to an area that had better pay, more opportunities, and good housing.

      Young people would like to stay here, but in order to get an education, more often than not, they had to get student loans. And now it is time to pay them off.

      One nurse considered Mason City, til she found out what the hospital paid. Where she now works pays $10,000 more to start than what Mercy offered (nor does she have to work 12 shifts), and is making progress towards paying off her $55,000 student loan. She could never have done that in this area.

      And let’s be honest, after 9 pm, there is nothing to do in this community other than go and drink booze. We don’t even have a restaurant that is open 24 hours, much less a cafe or night club. And that is the kind of lifestyle young people want.

  18. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Most would probably agree that this is a great project,IF it could stand on it’s own legs and support itself.But what does common sense tell you?Maybe the next step would be to whip up a list of those that think this is a great idea so the city can bill them minus revenue generated.I bet if that was done,the smoke would roll as the brakes are slammed on.But as Nonymus said other people’s money is easy to spend.Think how great it would be if you could send everyone else a bill for your new roof siding, or paved driveway.Its to improve the community you know.Personally,if my taxes increase because of this project,it will be a big factor in moving from here.

    • Avatar

      Observer the Original Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      I have looked at other like projects around the Country. Some are having to increase their taxes to keep their arenas operating.

      And the Group that pushed this used data and situations from other places like Fargo, a city in the Twin Cities, St Cloud, and Marion, IN. Those places have much larger populations, and larger tax bases to deal with (except Marion which is only 30k, but the county is 70k).

      Those places can attract big acts, conventions, and other events because they have more air service , a lot better than our 8 seat Cessna C208’s (again except Marion, IN) and larger bases to draw from.

      I just don’t see Mason City attracting 4,400 people for a concert.

  19. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Should name this project – SEARS – because before and after its completed your wallets will have come out so many times to pay for it – it will never cool off – from the ripoff.

  20. Avatar

    sad but true Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Does this all ring a bell? 15 years ago, didn’t we hear how great The Music Man Square was doing? How it supports itself? What a huge draw it is?
    Well, what are we hearing about it today? Broke? Cant survive? Empty.

  21. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Mason City people make sure you take your birth control pills because you are going to get f**ked and you don’t want to get pregnated by the bafoons.

  22. Avatar

    sad but true Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 8:22 am

    The only thing that will stop the down word spiral of Mason City is JOBS
    JOBS that young people want, like in Ankeny, West Des Moines, Ames, Rochester, etc
    Without NEW, GOOD Paying jobs, this will be just another tax burden for young people to shy away from.
    I believe we are putting the cart in front of the horse. If you think your tax burden is bad now, think what it will be in 10 or 20 years when the average age in Mason City is 55-60

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 8:48 am

      Everyone agrees with you…This town needs good jobs. But how do you get good employers to come to Mason City? That is really the question.

      When you have a aging and declining workforce (like we have in Mason City), its real hard to paint Mason City as an attractive spot for investment to potential employers.

  23. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 7:32 am

    And, the crooked real estate people are going to get rich off the taxpayers backs again.

  24. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 7:29 am

    Just another damn scam on the city taxpayers. They should take care of the roads and clean up the city with our money. Not waste it on another bullshit project that is doomed to fail.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 7:31 am

      You and a few others are the ones who say this won’t work. Where do you get your information? It seems to me that the majority of mason city are willing to give this a try. Let’s hope it does what the backers want it to do.

      • Avatar

        ‘Nonymus Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2019 at 7:56 am

        Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids runs on a shoestring, Mayo Civic Center, Rochester just reported days ago that they are running in the red. What makes you think that this Reniscance fiasco can possibly work in a town that can’t draw anything but $13./hr jobs and has only a small handful of jobs that pay well enough to support a real life style. Our major retailers are closing at an alarming rate with other stores waiting their turn to pull the plug. Tell me where the money will come from to float this pipe dream! There is know magician that can miraculously make this fly. If Cedar Rapids and Rochester or Waterloo and other bigger cities can’t operate this type of facility, what makes you think the dolts of Mason City can?

        • Avatar

          Observer the Original Reply Report comment

          January 3, 2019 at 6:30 pm

          You are spot on. Just look across the country, and you will see the same thing.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 8, 2019 at 7:19 am

        Are you delusional ! !!??? Most DO NOT WANT THIS OR EANT TO PAY GOT IT NOW WITH INCREASED TAXES THEN AGAIN IN A FEE YEARS RAISING MOTE TAXES BECAUSE IT FAILS!

  25. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Finally!!!! Glad to see this moving forward!

  26. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 3:07 am

    does this all come to us with a jar of vaseline ????

  27. Avatar

    John C. Heidenreich Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2019 at 12:01 am

    Mayor Pickel is lying to us about everything concerning this downtown project and he’s got most of the city council and the chamber lying also because they are personally gaining from this project. There should be a full investigation of all property transfers made public and a full accounting of every penny. Then, a new vote should be taken to see if the project should go forward.

  28. Avatar

    Cart before the Horse Reply Report comment

    January 2, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    No bank approval for developer yet? No state approval on funding? Lawsuits? No real or recent public input? Etc, etc… None of this has happened, so how can they possibly start construction next month and how is any of this legal? Taxpayer will get stuck with it all and none of this is what was voted for! CROOKED, like the schools!!!

    • Avatar

      ‘Nonymus Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 7:39 am

      Ironic, as to how bold our city fathers are at pushing their agenda. It’s easy to spend other people’s money when you have no “skin” in the game. Welcome an era of taxpayer funded arena and taxpayer subsidized youth hockey.

  29. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 2, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    That’s exactly whats happening…..is anyone paying attention?

  30. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 2, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Maybe I missed it. So we have the state money, because why would we start work on the arena if we did not have the state funding. I think the council is pulling another fast one, the mayor and council are thinking let’s start work get it going and all torn up an when the money fall through they will use our tax money to pay for it saying something like it already started we can’t stop now, we need to finish.

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      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 3, 2019 at 2:49 am

      There is no state funding? How many people think there is actually state funding? What we are getting is state tax breaks, there is no money coming from the state.

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        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2019 at 2:51 am

        We pay taxes, the state gives them back. Its actually ridiculous how long its going to take to even get the tax money slowly over 20 years?

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        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2019 at 2:52 am

        What forefathers are being spoken of at the end of this article?

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        Lionel Foster Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2019 at 8:39 am

        It’s not a state tax break! The state money involves only the new state sales tax and new state hotel/ motel taxes the completed project generates. In other words, the City will not receive a dime from the state until the entire project is completed, and it starts generating new hotel and sales taxes.

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          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          January 3, 2019 at 9:33 am

          Exactly–and if there is no new hotel there are no new taxes to send to MC.(ie there is no state grant if there is no new hotel) This is not what the taxpayers were told. It may be what was voted on but not what we were told. Someone should be held accountable.

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            Anonymous

            January 3, 2019 at 11:36 pm

            It’s worse than you say. Funding for the Arena is supposed to be from two sources. Tax revenues generated from Southbridge Mall. Now that’s rich..it’s almost a ghost town. And, funding from North Iowa Hockey Association fundraising. I would love to see all of this work. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

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          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          January 3, 2019 at 11:48 am

          Lionel the snake. Makes himself seem innocent. Don’t forget tax payers paid him over 100k a few years ago due to our elected officials be accused of discrimination. This old fart needs to shut up, hes part of the problem.

          • NIT Publisher

            NIT Publisher

            January 4, 2019 at 7:46 am

            He’s no snake, he’s an extremely intelligent man who stood up to a lot of bullies. That doesn’t make you friends, sometimes. He sued because his job and department were taken dis-honorably. Bookee and pals got their marching orders from the real snakes who don’t like Mr. Foster. Council and mayor could have made their case rationally/reasonably but instead went about burning down the Human Rights Department like sneaky arsonists. They showed their amateurism, naivety and arrogance in thinking that just doing as their masters say would give them cover. They treated the man like he didn’t exist, as if he was a piece of furniture – I saw it all go down. They had a grudge against him because their rich Queen on Federal did. It cost the city’s insurance company in the payout.