P&R Board rejects pool bids
At Monday evening’s special meeting of the Estherville Parks & Rec Board, city administrator Penny Clayton presented a memo to the board citing reasons she feels it would be wise to reject all the bids and rebid the project.
Clayton listed the money that has come in above the $4 million bond passed by Estherville voters August 6, including $100,000 per year for five years from Excel Estherville, above their previous $150,000 pledge, Emmet County supervisors with an additional $100,000 over two years, and pledges for $75,000 toward a $250,000 capital campaign in the community.
Clayton said in her memo: “We must also consider the potential impact of COVID-19 on our economy, the potential for reduced local option sales tax collections, the potential for funding to be withheld from the Enhance Iowa program, the uncertainty of the municipal bond market, the potential for loss of jobs and business closures and how that might affect our tax base and property tax collections.”
The closure and reduced hours of local businesses will impact the collection of sales taxes, which could cause funds to Excel Estherville and Local Option Sales and Service Tax to decrease, as well as local businesses experiencing revenue loss reducing or canceling their pledges to the capital campaign.
Clayton said, “While I think a new pool would be a benefit to our community both for those who live in Estherville and for those we are trying to recruit to our community, I have grave concerns about proceeding at this time given the seriousness of the economic challenges we are facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, I recommend that we reject all bids and rebid this project at a later date. I believe in the resiliency of the people of Estherville and that this project will be completed when the time is right.”
Bob Jensen, a parks & recreation board member as well as chair of the Excel Estherville board, said, “I want people to know the pool project is alive, just delayed.”
Clayton said, “This just presented a perfect storm of circumstances that gives me strong reservations about moving forward at this moment.”
Expressing unhappiness with the state of things leading to the vote, the board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation to the city council to reject all bids and rebid the project.
In other business, the board has closed the city parks and locked the restrooms due to the playground equipment not being sanitized. The COVID-19 virus can live for a relatively long time on metal and plastic, Clayton said. The Estherville Lincoln Central breakfast and lunch service will continue at Riverside and Thoreson parks, however.
Due to social distancing still being in effect Easter weekend, the board has cancelled the Easter Egg Hunt. The pre filled eggs already purchased will be handed out to children with school breakfasts and lunches the week of Easter.
The board also presented a retirement gift to Wayne King, who served the board for 53 years and continues as an honorary member.
The gift is a photo of Wayne King Park set on a canvas.
“I will miss serving on this board,” King said.
Council member Gary Heckard, who attended the meeting, said, “I commend the board for closing the parks. We are looking at the very beginning of Coronavirus. Look at Italy, China, other parts of Europe having an upswing. We’re lucky to not have the number of cases right now.”