Building Sale Imminent
9:50 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Work Done at Former FM Library

Fort Madison will soon be able to sell a downtown property to an out-of-town developer.

Fort Madison's former Cattermole Library

The city council has signed off on the recently-completed improvements to the interior of the former Cattermole Library.

The project included restoring the wooden circulation desk and building two bathrooms.

The cost of that interior work and some exterior improvements are being shared by the state and Cedar Rapids-based Frantz Hobart Management Services.

City Manager Byron Smith says that is a condition of the purchase areement for the former library.

He says the next step is to complete the exterior work.

"Once that grant is completed and we get the matching money from Frantz Hobart," says Smith, "we will be able to execute the deed that transfer the property."

Frantz Hobart plans to develop three downtown buildings, including the former library, for residential and/or commercial use.

The firm has already receive a nearly $1.3-million grant to help pay for the development project.


IOWA WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT LETTER

Fort Madison is weighing in on Iowa Workforce Development’ (IWD) plan to cut local services.

The city council has adopted a resolution that calls on Governor Terry Branstad and the agency’s leadership to keep its satellite office in Fort Madison open longer each week.

IWD has said it must cut the office from 5 days/week to 2 days/week to make up for cuts in federal funding.

Smith says aldermen seem to have the same question about the plan: why cut services when Lee County's unemployment rate is so high.

He says a letter is also being sent directly to Theresa Wahlert, the head of Iowa Workforce Development.

It focuses directly on the county’s high unemployment rate and the difficulties residents would face on days the office is closed.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has sent a letter of its own to the agency that calls for the reduction in hours to be reversed.


STREET IMPROVEMENTS

Fort Madison is already using the money it is borrowing for street and park upgrades.

Bates Sanitation and Asphalt has been hired to resurface about three blocks of 16th Street.

The local firm submitted the low bid at just over $71,000.

Smith says the project will be paid for with local option sales tax revenue and with money from the recently-approved $6-million bond issue.

He says the money the city is borrowing should be available next week.

Smith says a majority of the projects from the bond issue will be done next year.