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Proposed IJH campus future before area officials

Hobart Seeks Toledo Council, Region 6 Involvement

December 27, 2017
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

What the future may have in store for the idle Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls property in Toledo brought a number of officials to the table here on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 21. They heard from Jim and BJ Hobart, heads of Hobart Historic Restoration who had announced in March a proposal for reuse of the 27-acre IJH campus.

Officially announced as a special meeting of the Toledo City Council, much of the 45-minute discussion on Wednesday centered upon getting the Region 6 Housing Fund involved in the Hobarts' development plans.

What is now on the drawing board is for the Region 6 Housing Fund is to act as a "conduit" for the campus to pass from state ownership to private ownership of Hobart Restoration.

Article Photos

RIGHT- State Rep. Dean Fisher gestures during a special meeting of the Toledo City?Council with Hobart Historic Restoration officials concerning the Iowa Juvenile Home campus future on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 21.
Chronicle/John Speer

Marty Wymore, Region 6 Planning Commission executive director, said the Region 6 Housing Trust Fund Board is scheduled to meet on Jan. 11 and he could present the idea at that time. The Hobarts were invited to attend the meeting and Wymore said he hoped to meet with them prior to it to learn more of the financial details.

Wymore said the Housing Fund had "no ability to maintain the property, mowing or lights for a day, a week, a month or years" stressing the transfer ot another party would have ot occur at once.

Some aspects of a private meeting about the IJH property held with state officials in Des Moines in mid-November came out. Support for the project reported was reported voiced by Deb Durham, head of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

Hobart did say "many parts have to fall into place" to make the project a reality.

State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour) said he would be working with state officials on various project funding incentives.

Also as part of the deal, Hobart wants an adjoining city-owned parcel of about four acres thrown in. City council members have not yet acted upon this request which was made earlier.

"It seems like things could be slipping away. I love to work with a city who wants to work with us. I don't like looking over my shoulder..." Hobart told then Wednesday.

He urged council members to "Step up and be a part of this process. I'm not going to site here and put $8 to $10 million in this with the city being adversaries," Hobart said.

Toledo City Council member Travis Mullen said he recalled the council had been favorable although "nothing had been put in writing."

City Attorney Mike Marquess said the city was required by State Law to obtain "fair market value" for the property with resulting discussion turning toward also using the Region 6 Housing Trust as a conduit for the transfer.

Counicl members indicated the matter may come before them again at the regular council meeting on Dec. 26.

Those on hand were council members Steve Vesely, Brian Sokol, Joe Boll and Travis Mullen,

Mayor Dave Svoboda, Mayor-elect John Lloyd, Council member-elect Darvin Graham, State Rep. Fisher Wymore, Heath Kellogg, Tama County Economic Development director, Kendall Jordan, Toledo superintendent of public works and zoning administrator, the Hobarts, and their company's attorney, Matthew Hektoen. Toledo City Attorney Mike Marquess took part by telephone.

The state institution in Toledo was ordered closed in mid-January, 2014, by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Human Services Director Charles Palmer. The action resulted partly following accusations made by Disability Rights Iowa, a publicly-funded private attorney group based in Des Moines. Among the charges lelveld were students at the Toledo institution were improperly isolated for behavior issues and denied proper educational opportuities as a result.

Since the closing the stare has not provided an in-state alternative for care of delinquent girls and issues with their care out-of-state have surface.

The closing resulted in the loss of Toledo's largest employer with 93 persons out of work.



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