The $ 6 million Marshalltown Arts & Civic Center / Fisher Community Center renovation project may be eligible for funding under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Project coordinator Karn Gregoire and Mike Mason, both of whom sit on Fisher Governor’s Board of Directors, asked for financial assistance from the Marshall County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Marshall County Auditor Nan Benson listened to their presentation and waited for a certain word to be said: tourism.
“You said the magic word at the end” she told them. “This makes him eligible for our ARPA funds. I continued to wait. I would listen, take notes and say, ‘Come on. Say it. Say the word. Tourism.'”
Mason opened the presentation by telling supervisors that the board is trying to put the facility in place for the next 30 to 60 years. He said the board is seeking $ 850,000 in public funding. To receive the money, the project must secure local financial support from the city and county, and Marshalltown provides strong support. Gregoire said the project must have local engagement by July 14. Mason said they are in a position to issue a tender, but will hang on to this step until a clear picture of funding is established.
Gregory provided an update on the progress of the renovation and said that all asbestos was removed which cost $ 500,000 and the roof was replaced at a cost of $ 700,000. Both of these expenses were largely covered by insurance, but there is still $ 100,000 left. Grégoire said they were negotiating with the insurance company.
She said significant improvements to the building would be a huge economic advance for Marshalltown and Marshall County. Some of these planned changes improve meeting spaces and install a full catering kitchen, which will make the facility more attractive for conferences.
“We are going to be able to organize more events, more conferences, which will be a huge economic engine not only for the city center but for all of Marshall County” said Gregory.
Benson asked what size conference could be hosted. Mason told him that the building could easily accommodate 100 to 150 people. Supervisor Bill Patten mentioned the bad acoustics in the center. Grégoire said the sound system had been discussed.
Supervisor Dave Thompson asked if an organization would still be able to organize one meeting per month at no cost. Mason told him that was still the plan.
Gregory also pointed out the Fisher art collection, which contains many Impressionist pieces. Interest in the pieces is something that will appeal to art lovers across the state and country, she said. The collection is one of the reasons the board does all the renovations and upgrades – to turn the building into a museum-quality facility.
Mason said the project has three components: the Martha Ellen Tye Playhouse, the Civic Center with the reception hall and meeting spaces, and the art gallery.
“We believe that the economic drivers are the capacities of the reception and meeting spaces and the art collection which has been secret for many years”, he said. “We want to open it up and let the public enjoy it. We have seen in other states, other economic opportunities have been generated by similar collections. We have the potential to do the same.
Thompson asked if the center had a long-term commitment from the Fisher family to keep the art in the building. Mason said the family want the art to stay in Marshalltown and housed in an appropriate gallery.
“They want the public to see and use it and it is owned by this community – in short,” he said.
Gregoire said Bill Fisher donated the art and facility to Marshalltown with the intention that it would be an improvement and an economic driver.
Since the funding request was only listed as a talking point for Tuesday’s meeting, Thompson requested that it be added to the agenda for the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting on the 6th. July. He said this would give county officials time to research how to use ARPA funds for the project.
In other cases:
Supervisors have received a petition from residents of Wolf Lake addition south of Marshalltown to improve road conditions. Kurt Hoffmeister told supervisors that deteriorating roads needed serious repair or possibly replaced. Hoffmeister said the petition was signed by most residents of the 57 homes in Wolf Lake and could have gotten more as visitors and the military complained about damage to cars and tires.
Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or