WIUM Tristates Public Radio

State Tells FM No Again

Apr 14, 2012

Fort Madison’s proposed sports complex has received another piece of bad news from the state.

Supporters traveled to Mason City to make a second pitch to the Vision Iowa Board for funding.  The task force promoting the sports complex is seeking up to $1-million to add to the $2.5-million dollars generated through public and private donations.

Unfortunately for the task force, the request for state funding was denied by an oversight committee for the Vision Iowa Board.

Matt Morris with the Fort Madison Economic Development Corporation says that panel based its denial on Lee County’s contribution of $3,000 over 3 years to a $3.4-million dollar project.  That works out to less than 0.1% of the cost of the project.

The Fort Madison City Council, on the other hand, has pledged $500,000 over two years.

Morris says the oversight committee is taking the step of sending a letter to the sports complex task force and possibly the Lee County Board of Supervisors stating that no money will be provided without a contribution of $25,000.  He says that could even be spread out over five years.

The supervisors have rejected pledges of $50,000 and $25,000 to the project.  The three supervisors who oppose the deal (Janet Fife-LaFrenz, Gary Folluo, and Larry Kruse) have provided many reasons for rejecting the larger contributions.

They include concerns about the business plan, questions about why the county should help pay for a city project, and a lack of outside involvement.

Morris says the sports complex task force will not make another pitch for state funding without a larger county contribution.  He says that means local fundraising will continue to come up with the final $900,000.

Morris says the lack of state funding could mean the construction of the three softball/baseball diamonds and the three football/soccer fields does not get underway until next year.