From a potential community pool to the long-awaited splash pad, Waterloo Park District Board’s May meeting held a consistent theme: water.
With Waterloo Citizens for a Pool president Amy Grandcolas in attendance, park district board member Gina Pfund, a pool proponent, continued to ask the park board to work with WCP – this time specifically asking the board’s blessing to have two of its members join an advisory committee.
Grandcolas explained this committee’s aim will be to lessen the burden on the taxpayers that any potential referendums may cause. She plans to reach out to city officials, businesses and more about joining the committee discussions.
“The advisory/exploratory committee will primarily be focused on exploring the funding options that can reduce the potential costs to taxpayers,” Grandcolas said. “These options could range from an intergovernmental agreement on existing tax revenue, donations, scholarships and grants. Any combination could create a substantial endowment fund to cover annual operating and deferred maintenance costs. We would also be open to any funding that could be utilized to reduce the potential bond referendum needed for the initial build costs.”
After stressing that should two park district representatives attend advisory committee meetings they would not be able to make promises on behalf of the park district board, the board ultimately voted in favor of sending two representatives – Pfund and fellow board member Michael Nolte.
But Pfund’s proposition was not without mixed reactions.
Waterloo Park District Board Vice President Shelby Mathes echoed his previous sentiments that there is not enough community interest in public pools, leading them to seek help from outside entities like YMCA’s – which Pfund countered with the example of East St. Louis’ pool plans.
“Why don’t you guys do a petition to see if the community wants it first before you spend all your time doing this?” Mathes asked Pfund.
His comment was referencing previous conversations at park board meetings. At April’s meeting, board president Kevin Hahn said if WCP could obtain 1,261 petition signatures in favor of a public pool, the board would put a referendum on the general election ballot.
This figure was based on what Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean originally said would be the minimum number of signatures WCP would need to get an advisory question – not a binding referendum – on the ballot.
After stating her request pertains to sending representatives to the committee and not asking the park board to commit to a referendum, Pfund said the number the park district wanted to use as a benchmark of community interest was flawed.
As Pfund said, and McLean previously explained, the number of signatures required for a community group to get an advisory question on the ballot is equivalent to 8 percent of the ballots cast in the applicable jurisdiction – in this case the taxing district – in the last gubernatorial election.
The 1,261 figure was based on the taxing district of Monroe County, not of the park district which equates to just the city of Waterloo.
McLean confirmed this information is correct.
Grandcolas said this petition request was never officially brought to WCP and that it has only been talked about amongst the park district board in meetings. She added she has not seen it listed as an agenda item or voted upon in meetings.
Splash pad setbacks
While raindrop equipment for the park district’s long-planned splash pad came in, the bidding process for the entire project left the Waterloo Park District Board empty handed.
Sarah Tebbe of HMG Engineers, a Breese-based company providing engineering services and help with submitting grants, said the project was open for bid for roughly six weeks.
The board agreed to have Tebbe talk to a contractor experienced in constructing splash pads to get an updated estimate before opening the project back up for bids.
Originally, the board was expecting this project to cost $1.8 million, but given the increased cost of materials this could be much higher, Mathes said.
“If it’s too high and we can’t afford it, we’re going to have to put it off until we can afford it,” Mathes said.
As of Monday, Mathes said they have not heard back yet.
Tebbe said the lack of bids is a sign of the times, as she has heard many contractors express struggles of committing to such projects. These include worries about material shortages, the resulting longer lead times and backup of other jobs and increased material projects.
“I think it’s all going to come down to materials,” she said.
In addition, the project is complex and therefore requires a wide range of expertise, from pipe fitters to plumbers. Tebbe said some contractors have expressed it can be hard to gather all these experts at this time.
Nolte nominated Mathes to be president of the park district board, as Hahn will soon be moving. Additionally, Mathes nominated Keith Buettner to serve as vice president.
The matter will officially be decided at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
Don Prater, superintendent of the park district workforce, updated the board about new pickleball courts coming to town. Based on bids, he said placing three new pickleball courts at Koenigsmark Park would cost over $142,200, and adding an additional court at Lakeview Park would be approximately $35,000.
He said the latter appears to be the preference of the players, as it would allow them to host tournaments.
He also reported more vandalism at the skate park bathrooms – including a busted door lock and fluorescent lights – and “real filthy, dirty, vulgar graffiti all over every wall,” adding security problems make it hard to catch the perpetrators.