The current board of directors of the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum has explored several possible alternatives for dealing with the $1.7 million debt for which it assumed responsibility last fall.
The alternatives were reviewed at a board meeting Monday, April 12, in Arnolds Park, and a decision was made on how to proceed.
Al Maser, Spirit Lake, chair of the museum's fund raising and long range planning committee noted that as soon as the new board was in place following its downsizing in October his committee began wrestling with the long term debt that it had inherited.
Maser said "Our bankers had been very patient over the preceding couple of years but we were told in writing after we renegotiated the loan that 'the banks have some concern...(and) it is important that a fund raising program be established.'"
It was mistakenly reported after the board's March, 2004, meeting that one of the plans was for a group of donors to somehow acquire title to the museum property, including Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Green Space, Maritime Museum, Queen II excursion boat and Queen's Court shopping area.
"That's not possible with the deed restrictions that are in place," said Maser. "One of the ideas we discarded was a plan for potential donors to buy and hold our mortgage, although it certainly never was anticipated they would have ownership rights to the land."
Other suggestions put forth but also rejected as impractical or unacceptable include operation of the park by a governmental entity and reorganization under bankruptcy laws.
The board decided on Monday to proceed by appealing to persons who made but have not completely paid 1999 Save the Park pledges. This will generate approximately $300,000 if successful.
Following this, board members will contact other 1999 donors for renewed support and a fundraiser will be held in August in conjunction with the IGLMM annual meeting.
Jim Frost, IGLMM executive director, said, "These efforts, coupled with my firm belief that we will operate profitably this year, are the start of the process of finally getting our financial house back in order so we can get on with fulfilling the dream everyone seems to have for the success of the museum and park."