LCEDG’s Fraise says effort will now shift to other alternatives
DONNELLSON – Central Lee is holding the cards and the Lee County Economic Development Group says it may be time to fold this hand.
With less than a month left in a purchase agreement to buy the former KL Megla building south of Fort Madison, the two entities appear to be too far apart on a list of concerns to make a proposed Joint Educational Center at that location a possibility.
LCEDG and Central Lee school officials met Wednesday in a final meeting to try and see if there was way to get Central Lee on board with the project. Several plant managers from the county also sat in on the meeting.
Fort Madison Community School District and Keokuk Community School District were both on board with the project, but the building is located within the Central Lee district and that board would have to sign off on any high school instruction taking place on district property.
Prior to the meeting Wednesday, Central Lee Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier said the district had submitted a list of concerns to LCEDG about the project.
“We are working to resolve many of them, but I don’t know the pace at which some of these can be resolved,” Crozier said. “Hopefully, today we’ll be a positive conversation, but I don’t think anything will change.”
On Wednesday, Crozier said nothing changed as far as the district was concerned.
Dennis Fraise, President of Lee County Economic Development Group said if the group can’t get Central Lee’s approval they can’t move forward with the proposal.
But he said it’s not the end of the ultimate goal which is to create a world-class regional education center in Lee County
“We can’t come up with a plan that will satisfy their needs in the next 16 days,” Fraise said.
“We will absolutely find a way to move forward.”
The LCEDG board voted to support non-educational operating expenses for the first two years, raise funds to retire the mortgage on the building, and establish a charitable trust for the education center.
Crozier voiced concern over a lack of communication that he said the district experienced as plans were being cultivated.
Fraise said Wednesday that didn’t have any contention with district.
“We just see it different ways,” he said.
Getting an extension on the purchase agreement wasn’t an option Fraise saw as possible.
“Really, this option goes away in three weeks. But we have two willing school districts and about 16 plant managers in the county and we’ll start looking at alternatives,” he said.
“We’re looking for a coalition of the willing who want to roll up their sleeves and move this forward and we want everyone to be a part in this that wants to be.”