Council talks library, sports center projects

MARSHALL – Building projects within the city of Marshall made up most of the city council’s business at its Tuesday night meeting. Council members took action to approve a financial contribution to the children’s wing being planned for the Marshall-Lyon County Library and to approve plans for a softball field complex at the Regional Amateur Sports Complex.

However, both proposals did spark some discussion and disagreement among council members.

First, Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig presented a proposal to share some of the non-building costs for the planned children’s wing at the library. The Robert L. Carr Company will be donating the construction and material for the children’s wing, but the project also has some accompanying costs like furnishings and fixtures, landscaping and additional parking. Library supporters are raising private donations to help cover those costs, but Martig also approached the Lyon County Board and the city council about contributing. Martig recommended the city contribute $102,293 toward non-building expenses, as well as $50,000 for parking lot expansion and about $3,900 for planning fees.

Martig said Lyon County commissioners had also responded positively to a request to contribute about $51,000 toward non-building expenses for the children’s wing. Martig’s financial plan left about $153,000 to be raised by private donations.

Council member Glenn Bayerkohler asked if it would be possible to make the city’s contribution a match for money raised by private donors.

“I’d like to provide some incentive to raise the full amount,” Bayerkohler said.

Council member Jennie Hulsizer agreed with Bayerkohler.

“A lot of those (non-building items) are not must-haves,” she said.

Martig, on the other hand, cautioned that making the city’s contribution a match for private donations could delay orders for furniture and fixtures. He was also concerned that waiting to match donations would encourage the county to hold off on contributing, too.

Bayerkohler moved that the city provide one-third of the total funds raised related to non-building items for the children’s wing, up to a maximum of $102,293, as well as a maximum of $53,976 for city expenses like the parking lot and planning fees. The motion passed unanimously.

Later at the meeting, Bayerkohler also had concerns about plans to build a complex of softball fields at the site of the planned Regional Amateur Sports Center in Marshall. Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson presented plans and specifications for the first phase of the softball complex, which would include utilities and ground work. Olson said the ground work is needed to establish turf to make the fields playable by 2015. The design development cost estimate for the complex was about $1.6 million, he said.

“I question why we’re going to go ahead and do this,” Bayerkohler said. The main part of the Sports Center was supposed to be a hockey arena and events center, he said, and the city still isn’t sure how much money it will have to start building with.

Martig and council member John DeCramer said that Marshall’s existing softball complex no longer meets standards for holding tournaments in town. Martig said the Amateur Sports Center also has “plan B” options if funding falls short, including building fewer ball fields or only one sheet of ice, or building in phases.

Council members voted 4-2 in favor of approving the softball complex plans, with Bayerkohler and Hulsizer casting the votes against.