Isanti Community Center task force seeks support, funding

A ballot item in November could pose the question to Isanti residents whether they would support funding capital improvements to the city’s Community Center.

The question could be placed for public vote of the city were to utilize outside (bond) financing for the improvements.

Following discussion by members of the Community Center Task Force during the last Isanti City Council meeting, Isanti Mayor George Wimmer explained the possibility of a ballot question at the July 3 City Council meeting.

Isanti Mayor George Wimmer presented the Mayor’s June Great Yard Awards. First place are Peter Lage and Amber Schneider; second place are Thomas Morse and Eunice Larson; third place are Keith, Jill, Brian and Christopher Laska. Photo by Elizabeth Sias

“We could do a bond sale that would be specifically for this and have a ballot question this November,” he said. “If the citizens would like to. Obviously there’s a big blank there where we have to come up with how much it would be and what it would be used for.”

At the June 19 meeting, task force and City Council Member Sue Larson, along with other task force members and community residents, presented some of their findings to the City Council.

The group was tasked with researching and brainstorming ways to come up with funding the city’s community center, as the building is funded through 2013. Some of the groups that currently use the community center are the Isanti Lions, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Isanti Senior Dining.

Task force members said the city should advertise the community center to get better usage out of it—creating a website and posting signage outside the building may help create awareness.

Wimmer said he supports the community center, but that the city needs a viable way to continue funding it.

“The task force was to try to come up with a plan for us to figure out good ways we can save the building,” Wimmer said at the June 19 meeting.

Task force members said the community center needs upgrades to modernize it and make the building more efficient.

Wimmer said a levy referendum will likely be the answer to secure funding.

“This is inevitably probably where it’s going to have to go,” Wimmer said. “There’s a lot of education that’s going to need to be done from now until November, so the committee is going to… have to get the citizens educated on it.”

An example of the ballot question provided to the City Council read: “Shall the City of Isanti, Minnnesota, be authorized to issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $(dollar amount to be determined) to finance the betterment of and improvements to the City’s community center?”

The Community Center Task Force hosted a booth during Rodeo Jubilee Days on Saturday, July 7. Larson and others sought signatures of community members who supported the community center; she said she’s hopeful those who signed will be a “yes” vote in November.

“I think we could fairly easily go through all the capital improvements that need to be done there and have the dollar amount,” Wimmer said. “The community center group has their work cut out for them to really work toward getting a positive vote on this. At the end of the day it’s still up to the Council to decide what to do, but I think we’re all very interested in hearing from the community. If it’s something the community—if it’s a resounding ‘yes’ —and they are willing to pay more for it, then it would move us to do so.”

In other action:

• Mayor Wimmer reminded community members that horses are not permitted on the Cambridge-Isanti Bike/Walk Trail.

• The City Council accepted the federal COPS grant for funding to prevent the layoff of an officer.