GC council considers pool reopening, BIG grant funds

Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

GRUNDY CENTER- The Grundy Center city council held in-depth discussions on how to reopen the Grundy Family Aquatic Center and how BIG Grant funds should be allocated in the future during Monday night’s regular meeting.


Different pools around the area have adopted different strategies for the summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and at least one (Dike) has been shut down completely. Pool manager Chris Bangasser led the discussion with the city council.


Council members noted that it shouldn’t be the job of lifeguards and staff to ensure social distancing, but they will need to take extra precautions and clean surfaces frequently. Councilwoman Amanda Grineski suggested three-hour increments (1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.) for open swim, and after going back and forth on capacity, the council opted to allow up to 100 people into the aquatic center beginning on June 23 while charging daily admission with no season passes.


“Our number one priority is safety for pool staff and the kids who are at the pool,” Mayor Al Kiewiet said.


Concessions will not be offered, and pool parties will not be scheduled. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the pool will be closed for the rest of the season.


Returning to a familiar topic, the council discussed the possibility of revamping or discontinuing the BIG Grant, which has been used to attract new businesses to town as a means of assisting with building renovations.


Council members commented that they felt the grant had occasionally been “abused” or used for purposes outside of the scope of its original intent, and they also wondered if funds could be transferred to assist with parks and other areas in need of attention.


“It’s always been kind of a moving target. I think we just need to nail down what exactly those funds should be used for… I think we need to broaden the usage beyond Main Street,” Councilman Chad Hamann said. “There are times when it does veer into the gray area, (but) I think most, if not all the time, it’s used properly.”


Grineski added that she saw the grant as a key incentive for business owners who might be interested in coming to Grundy Center, and Kiewiet said that prospective business owners are “knocking at the door” to relocate to town.


No official action was taken, but a work session has been scheduled for July 6 to further explore options for the grant.


Natalie Kracht and Rick Smith provided an update on Chamber-Main Street happenings and how businesses have adjusted to COVID-19 closures. Despite the challenges, they see a brighter future ahead, and Kiewiet suggested that they consider setting up booths and advertising to promote Grundy Center in larger cities.


“It’s not keeping people here that’s the problem. It’s getting people here that’s the problem,” Kiewiet said. “We’ve done a good job of informing our citizens. Now we just need to make that umbrella a little bit larger.”


The council approved a loan guarantee for the Maroon and White Committee, which is leading the way on the Upper Elementary renovation project. Kiewiet said the city had collected about $40,000 for tuckpointing, and the rest of the current costs are administrative. Work on the project has not yet commenced, and the fundraising process will be ongoing.


Grineski announced that she will be moving to an acreage outside of town sometime in the future and thus will need to relinquish her seat on the council and have someone else appointed or elected.


“We’re in a great spot,” she said. “I’ve appreciated the camaraderie and the chance to work together.”


IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council:

·      Approved a loan agreement providing for the sale and issuance of general obligation bonds for the Mill Street improvements.

·      Approved a contract with INRCOG for assistance in updating the Planning and Zoning Code of Ordinances.

·      Approved a resolution to advertise for bids on the Upper Story CDBG housing project.


The Grundy Register

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Grundy Center, IA 50638
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