Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 11, 2014

County awaits Pleasantville Memorial Hall proposal

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Pleasantville — The Marion County Board of Supervisors met with representatives from the City of Pleasantville and Memorial Hall Commissioners from the Rose City, to discuss the status of transitioning the hall from County ownership to the City. 

The hall began to fall into disrepair years ago, prompting members of the American Legion in Pleasantville to begin making improvements. Marion County also paid for a new roof on the building. Over the past three years, Pleasantville organizations have invested $75,600 into projects to improve the building. Most recently, a new ceiling was installed in the main auditorium of the hall. 

The City and County have informally agreed to transfer ownership from the County to the City. The County is eager to turn the building over to reduce its liability. Upon accepting ownership, Pleasantville has asked the County to provide $4,000 in annual continued support for the building, for the next 10 years. 

The money was requested to help Pleasantville cover the costs of further improvements it would like to make to the building. Voters within the City limits have approved a special tax levy to raise funds to maintain the building, but the money raised through the levy may not be enough to cover all of these costs. 

"For all intents and purposes, this is your building," Supervisor Mark Raymie said. "It needs to be controlled by local folks." 

Raymie went on to suggest reducing the $4,000 annual request, to maybe $2,000. Board Chairman Craig Agan said he thought that the City would take over ownership of the building, immediately after the new roof was in place. 

"It's something we need to make changes to," Agan said. Legion member Gordy Mecham said that the roof was $40,000, and likely saved the building. If additional funds to support the transition, and further improvements, were "front-loaded" from the County to Pleasantville, Mecham believes that would be helpful. 

"We need the offer to come from you folks," County Attorney Ed Bull said of the City. This is part of the legal process the County must follow to transition any real property. Public notices must be filed and a public hearing will be held before the building can be transferred. 

The supervisors' top priority is reducing the County's liability. Agan and Supervisor Jim Kingery expressed their desire to finish this process, which has been ongoing for years, quickly.

"I would like to see this done as soon as possible," Agan said. 

"We just need to get it done," Kingery said. 

The consensus at the conclusion of the meeting was that the City will present the County a proposal, following the City Council's April 21 meeting. Mayor Bill Moore said he was satisfied with Thursday's discussion and he appreciates all of the hard work that has been done regarding the building thus far. 

Raymie said that the County believes the meeting accomplished what it was intended to do. He appreciates the City's willingness to meet and move this process forward. 

Pleasantville Memorial Hall is one of three the County owns. There are halls in Pella and Knoxville. Other counties either have a single hall, or none. 

Marion County used to have four, until the Bussey Memorial Hall became a structural hazard, and was demolished last year. Marion County still owns the lot in Bussey, but Raymie indicated that the County would like to turn the land over to the City of Bussey. 

There have been no substantial discussions regarding either hall in Knoxville and Pella. Raymie said the County will continue to evaluate its role in building ownership.