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Council nixes offer for Head Start building

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Facility would have been relocated for Parks maintenance

Citing the exorbitant costs involved, the Cherokee City Council last week refused an offer by the Cherokee Airport Authority to relocate the former Head Start building for use as a City Parks maintenance facility.

A letter was to be sent to the Airport Authority thanking them for the offer, while politely refusing the request.

The Council had previously discussed at length a proposal that would relocate the existing Head Start facility north of the City Airport to a site adjacent to the City Industrial Well Field south of Lake Street on the west of Koser Spring Lake Park.

The 4,200 square-foot building would have been utilized as the maintenance facility and storage for the City's Parks Department to replace the aged, hodge-podge, flood-damaged maintenance facilities currently used by the Parks Department.

The City has been exploring construction options for the aged, flood-damaged Park maintenance building and Yacht Club for about two years, and earlier this year a voluntary citizens' committee stepped up to spearhead a community grass-roots effort to fund and build a new Yacht Club in the Park.

However, this left the City with the task of developing a plan for the Park maintenance building after the Council ruled that the architect's preliminary estimates were exorbitant and questioned the proposed construction and financing plan.

As was proposed, the Cherokee Airport Authority, which now owns the Head Start facility, would have relocated the building to the new site and the City would bear the cost to prepare footings and foundation, bring utilities to the site, and install the necessary overhead doors and any other remodeling work.

The Airport Authority also asked the City to be responsible for the removal of the concrete floor at the existing Head Start site.

According to City Administrator Don Eikmeier, the City's costs for the project would total an estimated $160,000, plus the cost of preparing the new and old sites and equipping the building properly, including overhead doors, concrete, etc.

The 4,200 square foot Head Start building is approximately double the size of the initially proposed 2,400 square foot building that the City and Parks Superintendent Duane Mummert originally planned for.

The Airport Authority purchased the Head Start building and surrounding property because the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) ruled it was in the flight path. Much of the funds utilized by the Authority are from Federal Grants, which establishes the ground (and air) rules.

Airport Authority spokesman Kent Wenck told the City it would cost the Authority $110,000 to move the building.

According to Wenck, the Airport Authority will simply demolish the Head Start building and clear the site if the City was not interested in it.

In other action, the Council nixed a proposal by Cherokee Golf & Country Club spokesman Ken File for dust control on the graveled portion of City Street that extends north of North 11th Street past the Country Club.

File said dust control was a problem for the Club and golfers and controlling it was especially critical during tournaments held there, including the annual Sioux Valley Amateur Men's Match-Play Golf Tournament that was played last weekend and annually attracts hundreds of visitors and golfers and their families to town.

File emphasized that such tourneys and the golf course are actually valuable community attractions and should differ from a possible private property owner making the same request for dust control on streets/roads not hard-surfaced.

However, the Council refused the request, while reasoning that they did not want to open the door for similar requests by other residents in the future.

The Council also authorized a City Library contract for $16,500 to electronically digitize all Cherokee newspapers now on microfilm at the Library. Library Director Mary Jo Ruppert advised the Council that the costs will be paid for through donations, memorial monies, and contributions from the Cherokee County Archives.

The Council also approved the second reading and waived the third reading of an Ordinance creating a City Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and approved a Resolution adding two streetlights in Koser Spring Lake Park.

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