It was a big week for grant writers in Marshalltown last week, and the news took center stage at Monday night’s regular city council meeting.
In Mayor Joel Greer’s opening comments, he lauded city staff and grant writers within the community who helped Marshalltown win almost $1.2 million in grants last Thursday. The total included a $260,000 federal grant for the Marshalltown Police and Community Team (MPACT). Additionally, downtown Marshalltown was awarded two separate grants, one for $500,000 to restore classic business facades and another for $550,000 to be put toward five units of upper story housing at the Willard’s building.
“I’ve got to tell you, it was a pretty good day for a $1.2 million-plus grant day for the city of Marshalltown,” Greer said.
There could be more grants to come as the city, along with Region Six Resource Partners, moved ahead on three more applications with unanimous approval from the council. The council held public hearings to approve grant applications for the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grants for Elk’s Park, food program assistance and a housing conversion at 26 E. Main Street.
The conversion would create three apartments in the upstairs of the building at 26 E. Main Street. According to Region Six Planning Director Julie Winter, two of the units would be designated low-to-moderate income housing. The total budget for the three units is about $761,000, and construction would begin in the spring. The deadline for finishing the project is June 2023.
The Elk’s Park grant, which has a maximum award of $500,000, would add sidewalks, lighting, signage, a grill, picnic tables and more space for recreation. Like the housing conversion, this project would follow the same timetable with completion also expected by June 2023.
Winter said the city should learn whether it received these three grants in December or January.
“This is really needed work,” said council member Mike Ladehoff, in reference to the Elk’s Park project. “It would really help out a lot.”
In other business
City Administrator Jessica Kinser gave the council a 2021 strategic plan update for the third quarter, highlighting progress the city has made on projects and goals this year. The city will conduct a review of the 2021 plan and start its strategic plan process for the upcoming year with a session in late November or early December.
“I feel like we’re in a positive position,” Kinser said. “We always like to say that we can accomplish what we have and take on a few other things as well. I think so far this year, we’ve done that.”
Councilor Gary Thompson raised one concern on the strategic plan that had not been addressed: collecting data on odor levels in the city, particularly around the JBS plant.
“I’m a little disappointed we’re not moving forward with the sensors for the odor problem,” Thompson said.
Kinser said the city is trying to find a piece of equipment to monitor the odor levels coming from JBS similar to what the company uses.
“We’ve not had the greatest communication with JBS,” Kinser said. “We are going to do just a little more research into that (sensor) and move forward with purchasing that.”
Thompson then responded.
“That’s where my disappointment is. We’ve turned it over to the fox in the henhouse, so to speak, to give us data,” Thompson said.
Councilor Gabe Isom suggested that representatives from JBS should come before the city council to discuss the odor issue in front of the community as a whole. Kinser said it would be a possibility.
“I think that would be beneficial,” Isom said.
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