Closing of Veterans Memorial Building Still Draws Heated Debate

Veterans Memorial Building - Grinnell, Iowa

Veterans Memorial Building – Grinnell, Iowa (photo by Helen Hotchkin)

By Helen Hotchkin

The atmosphere of the Grinnell City Council meeting was a bit on edge as a debate heated up concerning the future of the Veterans Memorial Building between Dale Lamb and another man who requested to remain anonymous.

The anonymous man read a passionate article about the veteran history of his family that began during his great-grandfather’s time to his own 30-year service. He suggested to the council members to erect a monument similar to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. In Grinnell’s Central Park people may gather and reminisce about the why’s and how’s of war.

After this man finished his piece, Lamb stepped forward with two signed petitions numbering nearly 1500 signatures and said what a shame it was to tear down the memorial to veterans who haven’t even passed on yet and were around when the building was erected for them. He stated the stages of growth of the community and how important each of those stages were, the Veterans Memorial Building being an important part of that growth process. He also stated there were a dozen other people who would have been there to state their thoughts on the issue, but it was unclear where the council was in the planning process.

Rachel Bly, chair of the Planning committee, and other council members assured both men that nothing has been settled, yet. After four years, the topic is still very much in the discussion process and they encouraged others to attend their public meetings to share their ideas with them. Bryon Worley, chair of the Public Work and Grounds committee, stated at the time of the buildings closing the cost of maintenance and upkeep was running $2000 a month. That and the asbestos findings were the main reasons they shut it down.

Moving on to the next item on the nights agenda, Bly also stated that an update is necessary for a list of abandoned and nuisance properties. This prompted Lamb to bring up a recent article by Joel Aschbrenner in the Des Moines Register about the poor housing situation in the Grinnell area and the large number of commuters to the area. The article that he was referring to can be seen at http://goo.gl/uc2lsx

Another topic that may raise the community’s eyebrows is the adoption of an ordinance granting Interstate Power and Light Company (Alliant Energy) a 25-year non-exclusive natural gas and electric franchise. Jo Wray, chair of the Finance committee, assured the audience that they will not have an additional tax on their bill, but it will be in lieu of what they already pay. Currently the city only collects 44.2% of the 1 cent tax on local gas and electric bills, or about $72,000. When the franchise fee takes effect on October 1, 2014 the city will get $92,000.

Bryan Worley, chair of the Public Work and Grounds committee, stated the need to set a public hearing for bid opening and bid award for 2014 Seal Coating on the Grinnell streets. The bid opening will be April 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm. Public hearing and award will be held May 5, 2014.

The next Grinnell City Council meeting will be held April 21, 2014 at 7 pm.

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