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City Council agrees to abandon Toledo Community Building in hopes of grant qualification

Building sale stalls in pursuit of D. N. R. funding

April 19, 2017
By Allison Graham - The Chronicle ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The collaboration between the City of Toledo and the Wieting Theatre changed courses at last Monday's regular council meeting. On the agenda was a public hearing for the proposed sale of the Toledo Community Building but instead of a sale there is going to be a stall in any action. The reason for that stall is because of potential grant money. On hand to discuss grant funding was Jim Roan project manager for the Wieting renovation and grant writer Katherine Ollendieck. The grant is through the Department of natural Resources and is entitled DNR Derelict Buildings Grant.

In order for the grant money to be awarded the grant would have to be filed by the City of Toledo. This is a significant change in plans as the city was set to sell the Community Building to the Wieting Theatre for one dollar. Along with the City applying for the grant the city would also have to abandon the Community Building and let it sit empty for six months.

"We realize that the actual removal would be the responsibility of the Opera House and the Guild, but we need the cooperation from the city to get this done; to get some help in taking the building down. We might as well not pass this money up if it's available; and it is," said Roan.

Article Photos

Grant writer Katherine Ollendieck, rural Dysart, and Jim Roan, project manager for Wieting Theatre renovations, meet with the Toledo City Council on Monday, April 10. Ollendieck received approval to apply for state DNR?funding for demolition of the Toledo Community Building. Chronicle/Allison Graham

According to Roan an unidentified DNR official told Ollendieck that if the building was empty for six months the DNR would entertain the application. Also according to Roan a part of the DNR grant program is that you have to do as much as you can to reduce landfill use. For example if the bricks from the building or any wood flooring or doors or other useable material could be repurposed which is a requirement of the grant. The city will have to front the money for the demolition of the building and be reimbursed through the grant money. Also any items from the building that could be sold would result in reimbursement to the city.

Roan informed the council that to get any other grant money such as Enhance Iowa the process will take roughly a year. He anticipates the Wieting being ready to take over title to the Community Building around April, 2018. The demolition would begin after that with the expansion beginning in the fall of 2018.

The council will then have to vote at some time next year for the sale of the building.

Fact Box

Back Story

The discussion surrounding the future of the Toledo Community Building began on Feb. 13. At that meeting the Toledo Council had gone into a closed session meeting under an item "Community Building / Reinig Center - real estate discussion." The session was closed under Iowa Code Section 21. 5 J - "To discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate only when premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for the property or reduce the price the governmental body would receive for that property."

All council members including Sokol, Vesely, Mullen, Goodhart and Boll were present for the closed session along with Mayor Dave Svoboda, City Clerk Kim McAdoo, City Attorney Mike Marquess and Toledo resident Pam Wood.

Following the closed session the council voted in favor to appoint Brian Sokol and Steve Vesely to a committee to look into the future of the Community Building.

After hearing questions and some concerns from citizens at the Monday March 13 council meeting, the council voted 4 to 1 to move the city clerk's office from the Toledo Community Building to the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center. Members Brian Sokol, Steve Vesely, Travis Mullen and Terry Goodhart voting in favor of the move while Joe Boll voted no. Many of the concerns raised were from representatives of the Northeast Iowa Center on Aging (NEI3A). The NEI3A rents the room on the ground floor every week day to serve meals to elderly community members. The county meals on wheels program is also run out of the Community Building.

Toledo Community Building

Following that session the council took action to appoint council members Steve Vesely and Sokol to a research committee to look at possible use of the Community Building by the Wieting Theatre.

At the Feb. 27 meeting Sokol said it was the committee's recommendation to move the city offices which are currently located in the Community Building to the Reinig Center saying, "it makes good financial sense to make that move." Sokol also recommended sending a notice to the Tama County Economic Development (TCED). The TCED currently uses the office space at the Reinig as their home base. An arrangement between TCED and the city is that the TCED office handles all of the bookings for the Reinig Center in return for free office space. There was no mention as to who would take over that service.

Revenues For Reinig, Community Building

Council member Sokol informed those at the March 13 meeting that during budget time the council had been made aware of some repairs that need to be made at the Community Building as well as where the city is spending it's resources.

In fiscal year 2016 the Reinig Center brought in $60,829.23 in revenue.

The total expenditures for FY 2016 were $66,243. The Reinig is partially subsidized by farm rent which brought in $17,005. Total losses for the Reinig Center were $5,414. In fiscal year 2016 The Community Building brought in $4,530 in revenue. The total expenses were $32,034 which is a difference of $27,504. Property taxes are levied for the community building which totals $8,610. Adding the revenue with the levied taxes totals $13,140. This is still a loss of $22,500, for the Community Building. Potential estimated expenses for the Community Building would be $6,860 to foundation, $5,656 for roof replacement side door, $27,244 for handicap parking and $6,000 for a ramp in front of the building. Total potential costs for the Reinig Center would be $15,000 for construction to set up an office for the city clerk and deputy clerk.

The community building is currently home to the City Clerk's Office, Council Chambers, Toledo Healthy Lifestyles Center, Mobile Meals and the Tama-Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce Office are all located in the Community Building as well as Pam's School of Dance. The lower level is occasionally rented for private and civic events.

At the March 27 meeting the council had approved the public hearing be set for sale of the Community Building. Jim Roan, project leader for Wieting Theatre renovations, was on hand to update the council on Phase II work on the Wieting Theatre at Monday's regular council meeting (March 27).

The original Phase II plan totaling roughly $1.24 million was to build on to the East side of the Theatre. The addition would also include new rigging, new lighting and new sound as well as a 30-person dressing room.

Roan revealed that in January council member Brian Sokol spoke with Bob Manfull about the possibility of the Toledo city offices moving to the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center. Manfull is a trustee for the Wieting Opera House.

Article Photos

Jim Roan outlines plans for the Wieting Theatre to use the property now occupied by the adjacent Toledo Community Building during the March 27 Toledo City Council meeting. Chronicle/Allison Graham

The Wieting Opera House owns the legal title to the Wieting Theatre in the name of the community. According to Roan, through this conversation, Sokol and Manfull discussed the possibility of expanding the Wieting to the south as opposed of to the east.

New Wieting Plan

A new plan drawn up by the Wieting Theatre architect would have the south wall of the Wieting be the North wall of the new addition. The projected cost is approximately the same as the original budget according the Roan. Roan said the reason they needed those figures was to move forward for applying for grants to fund the project.

The City of Toledo had pledged $25,000 to the project ($5,000 a year) at the beginning of the year. Roan informed the council that $600,000 is needed to be raised in order to file for a grant with what was Vision Iowa and is now Enhance Iowa. The deadline for that grant application is April 15. However there is also a deadline in July. They currently have $80,000 on hand according to Roan. The Wieting could get $250,000 from that Enhance Iowa Grant. Katherine Ollendieck from Dysart was hired to write the grant. The Wieting is also eligible for a Great Places grant.

"We've kinda got a crunch time here because we have to file for Enhance Iowa by April 15. That's not far away. And if we don't file by April 15 we would have to wait and file with the filing period that starts July 15. So we would like to file now because we want to get in on the ground floor," said Roan.

Mike Gilchrist, who is the president of the Tama County Area on Aging was called on to speak on behalf of the program. "I'm hoping that everyone involved in this project is looking after the Senior Center and the needs of the Seniors in the Toledo area," said Mike Gilchrist.

According to Gilchrist the organization has been looking for alternative spaces but have come up with nothing that is of the scope of the space the Community Building offers.

Gilchrist informed the council 1,900 meals were served out of the Community Building in December. The Tama County Area on Aging also has a grant to do educational programs for seniors. The Wieting Theatre also has financial ties to the State Bank of Toledo with a 600,000 line of credit.

"It's kind of a death blow I think of sorts to the senior center and the Tama County Council on Aging. I just hope everyone is looking at the full scope of things.

Gilchrist suggested that maybe some sort of deal could struck with the Wieting Guild for NEI3A to use those facilities. The Wieting addition will include a galley kitchen which is a requirement the NEI3A needs to run the program for meals. There was some discussion on this but no offers were made.

Brian Sokol informed that a tentative timeline moving forward is to have the City Clerk's office moved by July 1. The city would be looking to have the deed for the building to be changed over by September 1.

At the March 27 meeting the final action taken in regard to the Wieting and Community Building was from the recommendation of council member Sokol. Sokol recommended selling the Community Building for $1 to the Wieting Theatre. All council members voted in favor of setting a public hearing for the sale at the April 10 meeting. Sokol also requested a notice be sent to the Tama County Economic Development to vacate the office at the Reinig Center in 60 days.

"We're in this together with you guys by the way," said Roan.

Steve Kenkel, local attorney, offered the idea to hold the hearing on the sale and then don't do anything. The hearing for the sale is for one dollar with a closing sometime in future. This would allow the city to hold off on turning equitable title over to the Wieting.

City Attorney Mike Marquess said he didn't want to speak for the council but went on to say the city was in a position to sell the building for one dollar. They are willing to delay it which is why they wrote the resolution to delay until September.

"It's a balancing act for the trustees to wait and then if there is a change in the council we may have a change in the decision," said Kenkel.

"The problem is this and this probably wouldn't happen but we would be acting tonight on the assumption that a year from now the Wieting group is going to take the building for one dollar. But like you say the political winds could shift. There is nothing binding so a year from now if things are different the city could say we aren't selling the building and a year from now the Wieting could say we don't want the building. So there's nothing locking you in is what I'm saying. A year without a lock in makes a lawyer nervous. But probably nothing would happen but you have to be aware of that," said Marquess.

It is unknown for sure at this time how much it will cost to take down the Community Building but whatever the cost it will have to be fronted by the City of Toledo. Essentially how the grant works according to Ollendieck is that the city would split the cost of demolition with the DNR 50 / 50. However according to Roan the Wieting will pay for their half of the demolition.

Approve Grant Application

Action the council did take on Monday was that they approved 5-0 to allow Katherine Ollendieck to apply for the grant of behalf of the city for the Wieting Theatre. voting in favor were council members Brian Sokol, Steve Vesely, Joe Boll, Travis Mullen and Terry Goodhart.

The city also unanimously approved to offer services of like in kind which could total up to roughly $28,000. This would be contingent on outcomes of the bidding out process. The city had also committed at the beginning of the year to giving $25,000 over five years to the Wieting for the expansion project.



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