News Column

Let them eat cake!

June 18, 2014

By Wanda Moeller, Ottumwa Courier, Iowa

June 18--OTTUMWA -- A celebratory cake ceremonialized a city milestone.

Earlier this week, Ottumwa City Council members, Bridge View Center supporters and the public enjoyed eating a cake, designed to look like the performing arts/convention center, to celebrate the city paying off the building's bonds on June 2. Now the city only has two additional payments for the furniture and fixtures.

While council members celebrated the milestone, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Mark Eckman touted the community's success in capturing more tourism dollars in Ottumwa and Wapello County.

Since his last council visit in early 2014, Eckman talked about the success of the Epic Iowa Road Trip coming to Wapello County. Those efforts were realized as Ottumwa became the first stop on the road trip. The goal of the trip, which touched all of Iowa's four borders and two rivers, was to "engage Iowans that Iowa can be a travel destination," Eckman said.

Another of the road trip's goals was to explore the new, growing and expanding tourism dollars center on culinary tourism, which Eckman noted was a perfect time to showcase Ottumwa's new Market on Main.

"We received some great compliments from the state tourism board," said Eckman.

Another great event that was celebrated Tuesday evening was event success and the economic impact of the Bridge View Center.

BVC's Executive Director Larry Gawronski shared with the council the direct spending and economic impact of Bill Cosby's appearance in Ottumwa, which brought in 1,578 people with gross ticket sales of $96,564. Net food and beverage sales for the night were $2,100.

More importantly, Gawronski noted, is the direct spending of each of those 1,578 people for dining, fuel and lodging. If each ticket holder spent $20 in the community, he said an additional $31,560 would have been spent. The economic impact for the night is further realized when those dollars ($31,560) are spent again. Thus the one night of Bill Cosby could very well have generated $72,755 in the local community.

And not only did people spend money to see Bill Cosby, Gawronski said. Bill Cosby spent money in Ottumwa, too. He chartered a local flight from the Ottumwa airport to Des Moines.

While council members applauded BVC's most recent successes, Councilman J.R. Richards asked about the possibility of Mumford and Sons coming to Ottumwa.

"We're still in the hunt, and it will be ours to lose," Grawronski said. "We're holding tight for a possible site visit this fall. They do look for places that are unique and places that want them to play."

In other business, the council:

--Approved the appointments of Sue Richardson of 16922 74th St. and Peg Lazio of 2301 N. Court St. to Planning and Zoning Commission. Both terms will expire on April 1, 2019.

--Approved the appointment of Will Heckart and Jason McDaniel as equipment operators in the street maintenance operator on June 30. Their hourly wage will be $19.86.

--Approved the appointment of Phil Northup as building inspector in the Health Department on July 14. He will be paid $21.23 per hour.

--Approved Robin Fitzsimmons as the street maintenance supervisor in the Public Works Department. The position pays $22.04 per hour.

--Approved the purchase of a 24-foot Aerotech bus. The purchase will be funding by a state grant. The total cost of the bus is $66,934, with the state funding $56,893. Transit's match is $10,040.10.

--Set a public hearing for the master facade improvement program in the 300 block of East Main Street for 6:30 p.m.July 1 in the city council chambers.

--Approved the contract, bond and certificate of insurance for the First Avenue reconstruction project (Truman Street to Eighth Street) at the Airport Industrial Park. The project was awarded at the May 20 council meeting for $226,858.75.

--Set July 1 as the date for a public hearing to dispose of city-owned property to Terese Brown. Brown wants to purchase the three lots next to her property on East Main Street. The lots and Brown's were recently rezoned from commercial to residential. Brown plans to use the property as a green space and offered the city $250 per lot.

--Set a public hearing to dispose of city-owned property at 1917 E. Main St. to Terry Repp. Repp offered the city $250 for the property and would like to build a new house on the property.

--Set a public hearing for 5 p.m.June 23 on the council's intent to provide an addendum to the current lease of city-owned property to the Dr Pepper Snapple group.


(c)2014 the Ottumwa Courier (Ottumwa, Iowa)

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Source: Ottumwa Courier (IA)

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