At the public hearing for a pair of bond issues to expand the city’s fire department and renovate the old Daly Creek Winery into the police station, a petition was presented to put the bonds to the voters.
At their Aug. 26 meeting, the city approved the purchase of the old Daly Creek Winery building for the purpose of making it the new police stati on. The city was questioned on why the they were purchasing a building for $243,500 that was just available for $70,000 at the beginning of July.
Those questioned lingered again and were a big sticking point for the public as they made their thoughts known over the course of the approximately 50-minute discussion.
Tammy Seeley presented the petition and asked how the city settled on its purchase price, when the previous high-purchase mark was $125,000 four years previously.
“The citizens of Anamosa feel like there’s a gap in the purchase price…and that’s why we brought a petition,” she said.
When city officials were asked why the purchase wasn’t made before it was sold to someone else, they reiterated that it was not on their radar until after the fact. Bryce Ricklefs, who purchased the property back in July and has the purchase agreement with the city, said the thought didn’t occur to City Administrator Jacob Sheridan until the pair took a tour on the building.
Ricklefs further explained some of how the price got to where it was detailing the mold and hazardous waste that needed to be removed from the building and the new roof that was put on. All told, he figured about $200,000 in work had been put into cleaning up the building.
“This is about trying to better the community,” Ricklefs said.
The amount of both bonds being listed at $700,000 and the interest rates being 7 percent in the bond up for approval also came into question. Sheridan said the bonds were set as a precaution to try to avoid having the project cost more than what was approved.
Seeley said she felt there should have been more of a plan in place to present to the public and the lack of figures on the actual cost the city would be looking at was concerning. When further asked how the city could ensure the costs stayed under $700,000, Sheridan said the city could control the scope of the project.
Both Sheridan and Council Member Rod Smith said for what the building offered, in the new roof, the solid foundation, building size and parking area, they felt a lot of the bare bones were there. Sheridan said with a bond price of $700,000, the cost of making the building suitable for a police station was far below the more than $2 million it would likely cost the city to construct a new building.
Some members of the public also questioned whether the location was the correct one.
Nancy Shaffer spoke up during public comment and offered her support for the plan. She said the price the city was paying was worth what they wanted it for and thought the building location was good and fit the city’s needs.
Though discussion largely centered on the police department project, the city is also looking for the approval to bond for their fire station expansion. It would have a 50-feet by 124-feet expansion to the south end of the station to accommodate larger equipment and a 20 feet expansion of the department’s parking lot.
Due to the petition, no action was taken on the bond issues and the city now has two options. It could abandon the projects, which Sheridan said he wouldn’t recommend, or set a special election to vote on the bond issue.
Anamosa Fire Chief Tim Shada asked if the department could continue to work on getting estimates and other information on the project, which Sheridan said could still be done as the city continued to go along in their process.