by Sarah Squires
The City Council is set to approve moving into the second phase of planning and campaigning for a list of recreation projects expected to go to a public vote in the fall.
The list of recreational projects, including expanding the Bud King Ice Arena, is anticipated to cost about $8.2 million. A recommendation from the Steering Committee charged with planning for the proposed projects has the city bonding for $6 million and about $2.5 million to be raised privately.
But for the projects to move forward, the city must convince voters to give a nod in the fall.
The first phase of the campaign, under the guidance of a consultant from Crescendo Consulting, had the Steering Committee identify the projects, costs and an estimated bond amount. The second phase, if the council approves the committee move ahead, will be to begin gathering private pledge donations for the projects.
"This is where the rubber meets the road," said City Manager Eric Sorensen. He said that for the council to support the list of projects for the potential referendum, the committee would likely have to show that the private support was there. "This [second phase] is basically ‘show me the money.'"
An idea forwarded to the City Council, recommended by the Senior Center Activity Council, was not included on the list recommended by the Steering Committee. The Activity Council asked that the city look to expanding the East End Rec Center to include a Senior Center home, citing lack of space for programming for older adults at the current Fifth Street location. The thought that such a new facility could be added to the recreation referendum has been dropped, for now.
But Monday night's agenda states that at the City Council's next meeting, the council will vote on whether to solicit a consultant to study the center and its programming. A draft of a request for proposals, used to hire a consultant, will be introduced to the council at its next meeting.
Sorensen said that while moving the Senior Center won't be studied as part of the referendum list, a study will help more clearly define the space needs for senior activities, something that has "a variety of opinions."
Instead of "leaving it dangling out there," Sorensen said that studying the matter professionally might help determine what the city may or may not need to do to accommodate seniors in Winona.
"We can solve the issue of what the needs are for older adults," said Sorensen. "As stated by Winonans, not somebody else. We want to find out what the whole community thinks."