Vision Iowa funds depend on county involvement
The Buena Vista County Supervisors seemed responsive to a funding request to tie rural areas in with the Project AWAYSIS destination park concept in Storm Lake at the board's meeting Tuesday at the county courthouse.
The board will make its official decision whether to give a financial commitment letter at its next meeting. The letter, requested Tuesday by the representatives of the Project AWAYSIS destination park project, would state whether the county will appropriate $600,000 at $100,000 a year, beginning with $100,000 in 2005.
The initial $100,000 would go toward driving trails and historical interpretive kiosks.
The remaining $500,000, to be paid over a remaining five-year period, would go toward bike and recreational trails that would eventually tie into a regional northwest Iowa trail system.
The request to the supervisors was two-fold: the board's financial assistance would be a real help, plus VISION Iowa grants hinge on unanimous support from governments at the city and county level.
Storm Lake City Administrator John Call said improved water quality in Storm Lake has led to a myriad of ideas for tourism and economic development. "The water quality in the lake has sort of come along," Call said. "It's kicked off our destination park concept."
However, Call was quick to point out that Storm Lake cannot accomplish the destination park on its own. "Unless the county is a partner with us we're not looked at seriously" for VISION Iowa grant funding, he said.
The initial funding request for 2005 would include $50,000 to $60,000 for driving trail signage, said Gary Lalone, CEO of the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce and Storm Lake Area Development Corporation. Lalone said the remaining $40,000 of first-year funding would go toward interpretive kiosks.
"These would be educational as well as interpretive," Lalone. "We're pretty excited about it."
Storm Lake City Administrative Service Director Justin Yarosevich said the bike trail would be in five phases. "It would include a bike trail to just about every part of the county," Yarosevich said. He said the entire AWAYSIS destination park project concept depends on acceptance of the project grant application. "The $100,000 allows us to leverage quite a bit of money," Yarosevich said. "It also shows quite a commitment on the county's part."
"It's obviously contingent on our successful grant application," Call agreed.
The supervisors all seemed supportive. "Buena Vista County already has a lot of people that are biking in other counties," said Supervisor Lorna Burnside.
"I think it's an ambitious project, one that seems to be affordable," said Supervisor Bill Lanphere.
Lalone said the driving trails concept with signage would also help promote Buena Vista County Park in northwestern Buena Vista County. "This would be another way to get people up there," Lalone said. "Eco-tourism is a huge thing right now."
Burnside agreed that local governments need to work together for the concept to succeed. "We're all too small to go by ourselves," Burnside said. "We need to work on it together."
Call said the grant application needed to be to the VISION Iowa Board by Aug. 11 and he asked the supervisors for a letter of commitment for funding within the next two weeks.
Supervisor Jim Gustafson asked wither county funding at a lower level than requested would hurt the chances of the grant application. Call said the county's commitment "could maybe stretch out" over a longer period.
The board agreed to vote on supporting the request at its next meeting 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 20.