BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A resolution in support of a $1.5 million spend was approved Thursday afternoon by the Fort Madison City Council in a special meeting.
The $6 million project, labeled a “5-star marina” by Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld, needed the commitment from the city to kick start other partner investments including a possible $1.5 million kick-in from the Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission, and possible federal earmark that is part of the American Recovery Plan, and other private investments.
Mohrfeld said the application for the federal grants through a Community Project Fund program via U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is being put together by Mike Norris of the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, and is set to be turned in on Thursday.
The resolution Thursday was approved by a 6-0 vote with Councilman Chad Cangas not in attendance. The resolution gives support to applying for the federal grant, as well as specifies the city shall commit $1.5 million to waterside infrastructure at the marina, which fulfills its “ownership obligations”.
Councilman Mark Lair, who seemed opposed to the spend at Tuesday’s regular council meeting, said additional information had come forward and the project seems more understandable.
“It’s been a rough day for me making a decision after what was said at the council meeting the other night,” Lair said “I was presented with a lot more information and you’ve done a good job bringing information and the media was able to put something out that makes this more understandable, and things seems to be rolling good.”
Mohrfeld said the project is about tourism and quality of life.
“I’m tickled that were one step closer,” Mohrfeld said.
Where the money will come from for the contribution has yet to be finalized, but Mohrfeld has said he’s in favor of borrowing funds from the Hwy. 61 rehabilitation fund, and then including the $1.5 million on the back end of the highway project. City officials have already indicated they will need to borrow funds to complete that project.
The proposed marina project will be a partnership anchored by city ownership. The city would non-profit and for- profit organizations to run the hospitality center including the convenience store. Additional plans for the project after the initial $6 million could push the price tag to $11 million all in, according to Mohrfeld.
Proceeds from those operations of the hospitality center would prop up maintenance of the docks and dredging of the marina to make the project self-sustaining.