Head Start now interested again, if building can be gifted
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The future of the Idol Rashid building will be back in front of the Fort Madison City Council on Tuesday night.
The building located at 3421 Avenue L, previously used as a city library, now is home to the Fort Madison Food Pantry. The pantry shared the lease with the United Way of the Greater River Region until that lease ended in April 30 of this year.
Several proposals have been bandied about including selling the building to Head Start and donating the building to the Food Pantry.
In a memo to the council, City Manager David Varley said he’s been working with the granddaughter of the Rashids on the issue. The city has to obtain the Rashid family’s permission to sell or donate the building.
According to Iowa code, the city can’t donate the building to a non-governmental agency and if it decides to sell the property, it must do so at fair market value.
However the city can donate the property to the Lee County Supervisors, who don’t have such restrictions on donating the building.
City Councilman Matt Mohrfeld suggested during a meeting earlier this year, that the city donate the building to the Food Pantry due to the importance of that service in the county.
Varley had previous discussions with Head Start to purchase the building, but those discussions stopped under new regional Head Start leadership. But Varley points out in the memo that the Head Start is now interested again in the building if it can gifted to them.
Varley said he’s reached out to DuPont to see if they are interested in purchasing the building.
“They stated they might be interested, but it’s a long shot,” he wrote. “They also said that they would prefer that something like a daycare-type facility not be located so close to their plant.”
The city has been trying to divest itself of the property for the financial savings from maintenance and upkeep.
The Rashid family has the ultimate authority to sign off on any ownership changes in the property.
In an unrelated issue, the council will also vote to order construction and set a public hearing for Aug. 20, on the reconstruction of Avenue H (old Highway 61) from 2nd Street to 6th Streets.
The state turned over jurisdiction of the corridor to the city in exchange for $13.9 million dollars when the bypass was constructed. Plans included redoing several intersections, including the 27th Street and Avenue L intersection, which was completed in 2018. Plans also included redoing the intersection at Avenue O and Ortho Road.
Original plans called for four segments starting on the west side of the city and working east. However, plans changed and the city decided to go from the east and tackle 2nd Street to 6th Street, moving progressively west. The city had originally planned to have the entire stretch rehabbed by 2027.
In other action, the council will vote on applying for a $125,000 REAP grant to help with the costs of Phase 4 of the P.O.R.T. Trail which will extend the trail from Avenue L on the west side of 48th Street to River Valley Road. The total cost of Phase 4 is estimated at $415,000. The total P.O.R.T. trail project is estimated at six years at a cost of $2.7 million.