Weather Forecast


Plans under way for tax-funded projects

WORTHINGTON -- Following last Tuesday's passage of the local option half-cent sales tax, the Worthington City Council on Monday discussed plans to put the two tax-funded projects -- renovations to Memorial Auditorium and the building of a community center complex -- into action.

Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, manager of Memorial Auditorium, said she wanted to pursue an aggressive timeline for completion of the 4,400 square foot addition to the facility.

"Right now, we're contracting artists for the 2009-2010 season, and we can't make any promises on any contracts until we know what's going on," she said. "People expect these events to come in."

Her hope was to have construction completed by December 2009, which would provide minimal interference with the performance schedule -- an important benefit, said Alderman Ron Wood.

"We've reached a pinnacle of attendance and use of the facility," he said. "Either (construction) needs to be now and go quick or wait until we're out of season."

City Engineer Dwayne Haffield expressed doubts about the timeline.

"You never see these things go quite as quickly as expected," he said, "I wouldn't want to overpromise this."

Council members discussed whether to continue working with architectural firm Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc, which designed the current plans for the addition, or accept other bids for design services. Additionally, the city is required to solicit bids for construction of the addition.

The Community Center Complex is still in the preliminary stages, said Ken Moser, who heads the center's board.

He talked about the next steps in the estimated $3.5 million project. With council members, Moser outlined goals: drafting an agreement for sale of the property where the center will be located to Ruhr Development and working with Ruhr Development to develop an operating agreement for the center.

"We owe it to the community to move this along quickly," Wood said.

In other business, the council Monday:

l Approved the purchase of a 1994 Simon 102-foot aerial platform fire truck from Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, LLC for the price of $309,000. The fire department will also be purchasing approximately $9,700 worth of additional accessories to make the vehicle service-ready.

l Adopted the workforce housing program and policy for Tax Increment Financing in District #7. The program is intended to encourage the construction of affordable housing units within the district by offering forgivable loans to qualified homebuyers.

l Reported the group in charge of developing plans for a senior center held their first official meeting.

l Received an update on the activities of the Southwest Initiative Foundation from Marc Vaillancourt, the foundation's development director.

l Approved an application for closure of Tenth Street from Second to Fifth Avenue from 6 to 7 p.m. Nov. 21 for the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce's Holiday Open House Kick-Off.

l Voted to officially close city offices on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28) on a one-year trial basis.

l Approved a second reading of the ordinance relating to a storm water utility rate increase and a third reading for the proposed ordinance to vacate the platted public utility easement in Lot 4, Block 1 of Castlewood Knolls.