SHELDON—Mike Bell views the proposed Crossroads Park on Sheldon’s east side as a revenue generator.
The landscape architect from RDG Planning & Design of Des Moines relayed this message to the Sheldon City Council and members of the public during the Tuesday, July 2, regular meeting.
Bell previously estimated the park — with all the bells and whistles tossed around in the master plan — could cost $6 million to $9 million.
Documents provided to the park’s steering committee members and shared with The Mail-Sun show a rough estimate of about $6.3 million.
The city of Sheldon and the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation have looked at developing the 40-acre site, which has a borrow-pit pond at its center, adjacent to Crossroads Pavilion since the inception of the event center. However, efforts have ramped up in recent months.
“You could create a funding package so that we could can go to Des Moines — just like we did with the Pavilion — and go after maybe the neighborhood corners, maybe it’s the trail, you can take this PowerPoint and put them in documents and quickly go after funding sources,” Bell said.
Because of its location features listed in the master plan — such as prairie restorations, an accessible fishing pier and neighborhood corner featuring a splash pad — Bell thinks there are plenty of opportunities for grant funding to help pay for the park.
A few community members in attendance were not sold on the concept. Bell was grilled about the park’s potential, its cost, some of the proposed amenities and other aspects.
“So we are anticipating that we would be eligible for grant money to support this project, right? Because the last time I checked our city budget, we don’t have $6 million lying around to use,” Lori Anderson of Sheldon said to Bell.
She followed up by asking him whose responsibility it was to find and secure grants and how much of the project would be covered by those means.
Bell said the Iowa Economic Development Authority could provide up to 15 percent, although the state agency prefers to be the last entity involved.
The landscape architect also cited the Resource Enhancement and Protection, or REAP, grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which is derived through gaming revenues and does not require local matching funds.
Bell said once the master plan is finalized, he and SCDC executive director Curt Strouth will travel to Des Moines to speak with officials at the Iowa Tourism Office and development authority.
Marv Van Riesen of Sheldon told Bell this project would ruin City Park and that the community is struggling to maintain the current infrastructure and is lacking in funds.
“Marv, you’re getting way ahead of yourself here,” said Sheldon mayor Greg Geels. “This is just a presentation. There are no decisions being made today or tomorrow; this is just a presentation to get the juices flowing to get us thinking about what could happen out there.”
Tricia Meendering, the Pavilion general manager and a former Sheldon mayor, interjected as Geels and Van Riesen went back and forth.
She defended the maintenance of Sheldon’s existing parks and said the recreational areas are used consistently, including school playgrounds.
Meendering also noted the park was just a dream and the ideas listed in the master plan and on display on the vision boards stationed in front of the council came from community members who attended the workshops.
“It’s a dream,” she said.