Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Council joins forces for joint project

November 23, 2005

Baldwin City Council members threw their support -- to the tune of $5,200 -- behind a feasibility study to determine the needs regarding a possible community building to be jointly funded by several entities.

"The group that has been talking about the community building, with the swarm of ideas floating around, decided to get someone to look at what can be done," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman. "This particular consulting firm has submitted a plan for a feasibility study to be done in the community. The cost is around $15,600 and will be split between the city, school district and recreation commission."

The consulting firm, Ballard-King and Associates, is well known for guiding such joint ventures between groups. Council President Amy Cleavinger, who has been the city's main representative in talks between the groups, urged the council to join in.

"The rec commission did approve their third and are in," said Cleavinger. "I think it would be money well spent. I'm impressed with what these people (consultants) have done. They list six projects with partnerships with cities, school districts and rec commissions that catch my eye.

"We've also got the golf course property to make decisions on," she said. "Maybe we can get something out of this for that. I think we need the help and the guidance to get this done."

Mayor Gary Walbridge agreed.

"You have to have a professional organization look at it," said Walbridge. "I think it would be money well spent."

Dingman explained that the firm would use the feasibility study to determine if the community's interests in auditoriums, meeting spaces, multi-use facilities, libraries and other public use spaces are great enough to justify a significant project. He also praised the group.

"Ballard-King is a leader in the industry of feasibility studies for recreational space," he said. "They are one of the few such companies not affiliated with an architectural firm that has a vested interest in designs services for any pending facility."

The Baldwin School Board also approved its portion of the cost of the consultant. It's unknown when the process will start.

"We're at a stage where we're trying to find our way as far as recreation in the community," said Cleavinger.

What that is, is unknown.

"I don't know anyone involved knows what they want," said Walbridge. "There is no target on the wall."

The council was also informed about the ball field effort with the school district. Bids came in $35,000 higher than expected for dirt work and utility relocation. The bid will be put out again. Dingman also told the council about an ongoing agreement between four area communities regarding joining forces regarding electricity.

Cleavinger also asked the council to consider giving more money to the Downtown Beautification Project by the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce. The city gives $2,000 every year to the effort, but that money is gone after the summer effort with plants in downtown flower pots.

Another $400 is needed for Christmas decorations for the planters, she said. Council members asked that a member of the chamber come to the next council meeting to discuss the needs.

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