Details regarding the Isanti Community Center ballot question

Dear Editor:

On Sept. 6, Glenn Farrell wrote to the Isanti County News suggesting that the city of Isanti consider adding on to its existing City Hall building, rather posing a referendum question on whether to renovate the current community center building. It is encouraging that Mr. Farrell is interested in supporting the community center, but it also prompted me to provide some background information on this issue.

First, the Nov. 6 ballot question will not bind the Isanti City Council to spend $250,000 on the existing building. This amount is a maximum, and it includes full-cost estimates of both necessary improvements and major enhancements. If approved by voters, the Council would have to decide on the final scope and cost of the project, and would have to vote to actually spend any money on it.

Second, the dollar amount in the referendum covers a full renovation of the building, not just patching it up for another 10 years. The proposed work does include improvements to the parking lot, which I agree with Mr. Farrell needs to be addressed.

Isanti’s Mayor and City Council commissioned a task force because something needed to be done to address the overall viability of the Community Center. While the ideas of new construction or adding on to City Hall were discussed, the cost burden of those options is well beyond that of a renovation project, and was deemed too much to ask of taxpayers. However, I can assure Mr. Farrell that both the task force and the council would like to see a strong return on the taxpayers’ investment.  Supporting the referendum to renovate the community center will assure that the facility will last for decades to come, at a minimal cost per household.

John Bettendorf
Isanti Community Center Task Force Member