City Projects Supported with

Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation Funds

Donlin provides update on Community Betterment projects

Monday, April 22, 2019

By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor

LE MARS — The Le Mars City Council received an update on the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation and its efforts to raise money for Community Betterment Projects 2 (CBP2).

Foundation President Mike Donlin said the LABF has been in existence for several years and is focusing its attention on raising funds for projects.

He pointed out the foundation’s website, www.lemarsfoundation.com, which contains progress on projects, pledge forms, project suggestions and application for projects.

“There are pledge forms there because we are a foundation that is continuously interested in raising money for community betterment projects. CBP2 is not the only thing we like to work on and support,” Donlin said.

The CPB2 program has 10 city projects which are being supported by the LABF.

Currently underway is the renovation of the Olson Cultural Event Center in the downtown area and adding a skateboard park to O’Toole Park.

As work is done on an approved project, LABF reimburses designated funds to the city for the work.

On Tuesday, Donlin presented a check for $158,580 to the city for work done on the Olson Center.

 

“We have been bringing funds to the city clerk, or drop off or come in a presentation like this.

 

During our entire time so far, $1.6 million has been reimbursed for various project work on CBP2. Today I brought a check for $158,000 for current projects including Olson, the skateboard park and some other things that are going on,” Donlin said.

 

That check brings the total reimbursements to $1,791,489.

 

Donlin continued, “That brings us so far, with pledges from generous donors to over $5 millon raised.”

 

He continued there are still more donations to come in for the CBP2 as it continues to unfold.

 

“We know projects will be starting like the skateboard park any week now. I think we’re very pleased with the progress that has been made, and the donations and pledges are still coming in at a successful rate, a very high rate,” he said. “From my point of view, it’s a good report and keep up the good work.”

 

Members of the LABF board in addition to Donlin, are Andy Schmidt, vice president; Angela Kneip, treasurer; John Rexwinkel, secretary; and Mark Nuebel, Angie Erdmann, Jeff Kramer, Tammy Sudgtelte and Linda Mayrose.

 

Work on the Olson Cultural Event Center is slated to be completed in time for the Le Mars Sesquicentennial/Ice Cream Days celebration in June. There is also work to be completed on the the Municipal Park Campgrounds area.

 

As part of the campgrounds area, a garage at the park was changed into a shower/restroom facility for campers, and the nearby house was renovated into the campground registration office.

 

One of the first CBP2 projects to be completed was the Municipal Park Shelter House renovation.

1) Municipal Parks Ponds/Campground

Amount approved: $600,000

By Breeanna Pierce

Le Mars Daily Sentinel

 

May 31, 2018:  An open house for the newly renovated Willow Creek Campground was held on Thursday, May 31.

                                   

LE MARS — Many find camping synonymous with summer. To prepare for the 2018 season, the city sought to refurbish the facilities at the Willow Creek Campground. Those renovations were showcased during an open house, Thursday, May 31. 

Visitors enjoyed refreshments and explored the new clubhouse and bathroom and shower building before Mayor Dick Kirchoff gave opening remarks, followed by Le Mars Historic Preservation Commission President Linda Mayrose, city administrator and engineer Scott Langel, and Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation President Mike Donlin.

The open house marks another completed task of the Community Betterment Projects (CBP2) through the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation.

“The whole objective behind all the projects is raising the quality of life for our citizens and our newcomers,” Kirchoff said.

While the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation was created in 2014, the goal to revitalize the Le Mars Municipal Park came years prior.

 “In 2011, we — the city council and city administration — went on a retreat here in Le Mars and spent a day and half planning where we were going to take Le Mars in the next five years,” Kirchoff explained. “Out of that meeting came 26 projects, so when we set up the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation in 2014, that board and committee picked 10 projects. The one we’re hosting today is one of the 10.”

Both projects recycled the original 1937 buildings, collaborating with the Le Mars Historic Preservation Commission on the renovations.

“We have an excellent historic preservation program here in Le Mars,” Kirchoff said of reusing existing structures for the project. “I’m very proud of that program. They do a great job.” 

The new clubhouse features tables and chairs, wireless Internet, brochures for local events and restaurants, and camping essentials for purchase (firewood, ice, and most importantly, s’more supplies). 

“This has to do with the campers,” Kirchoff said. “Everything’s right there; everything they need.”

New campground managers, Terry and Deb Singer, will also work out of the clubhouse, providing easy access for visitors to sort out camping details.

“It will be more convenient for campers to drive in and check in,” Langel said, pointing out the camp’s new entry off Fourth Avenue Northeast that would allow recreational vehicles to easily pass through the check-in point to their designated campsite. “It’s gonna be a lot more organized and sophisticated than it has in the past.”

Along with the new facilities, the campground has grown to include several new campsites where the old south pond used to be, making room for new campers to enjoy the park.

“Prior to the project, I believe campers who would like to use the Le Mars site were often turned away because it was at capacity,” Donlin said. “Now it is more than doubled and has much more attractive facilities.” 

Donlin hopes the completion of the park renovations will pave the way for future community improvement projects.

“The campground/shelter house is the largest of the CBP2 projects to reach completion so far,” he explained. “Seeing its success, along with the ability of the city to then commence other CBP2 projects, can hopefully stimulated other members of the community to donate to our foundation for even more beneficial projects.”

The Willow Creek Campground opened for campers May 1 and is located at 445 Park Lane.

- Dredge North Pond-Increase Depth/Fill with New Sand


- Fill in South Pond with North Pond Dredging


- Restore Swimming/Beach Area


- Restore Ice Skating Rink


- Add Lighting Around Recreational Area


- Add Picnic Areas


- Create Additional Campsites on South Pond Area


- Add RV Sewage Dump Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) Workers are on the site of the new campground area of the Le Mars Municipal Park putting in water and sewer lines for campers. Electrical hookups and cement pads will be installed in the spring. It is hoped that campers will be occupying the space later in the summer of 2018. The area is the former south pond of the park which was drained and filled in 2016.

Dec 1, 2017:  LE MARS — The summer of 2017 saw more changes at the Le Mars Municipal Park.

In 2016, the south pond was drained and filled for an additional camping area.

The park’s shelterhouse renovation was started in February 2017 and opened in May.

“Interior-wise, the shelterhouse is complete,” Jason Vacura, assistant city administrator said last week.

That renovation included gutting an interior storage room, and opening the main banquet room by adding three arches in the connecting wall.

The rafters were refurbished giving an open rafter look to the entire building.

Plans move forward for campground

Friday, September 8, 2017

By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor

LE MARS — A public hearing, consent items and three action items comprised Tuesday’s Le Mars City Council agenda.

The council opened with a public hearing on the plans, specifications, form of contract and estimate of cost for the 2017 Le Mars Municipal Campground Improvements and Expansion.

No one addressed the council during the public hearing.

According to information provided, the contract covers improvements to the area of the former south pond at the Le Mars Municipal Park which will become a new campground area with pads and utility hookups.

The project is one of the city’s Community Betterment Projects 2 list.

Sixteen percent of the project will be funded from a Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant, 16 percent from city in-kind (water staff, sewer staff and storm staff), and 68 percent from Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation donations. 

The council approved the plans, specifications and form of contract. Later in the meeting, the council set bid opening for 10 a.m., Oct. 3, with bids to be reviewed at that day’s noon council meeting.

An increase in solid waste fees was considered by the council.

The city of Le Mars received notice from the Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency that effective July 1, 2017, it was increasing its rates. Assessments increase $1 per capita, an increase of $9,826 per year or $818.84 per month.

Tonnage costs also increased by $1 and $2 per ton depending on the type of material.

The Utilities Committee for the city recommended an increase in rates for the solid waste that is hauled to the landfill by residential and commercial customers.

The rate for residential trash pickup will remain at $11 per month.

The Solid Waste Fund is also used to maintain and operate the leaf and grass site used by Le Mars residents.

The council unanimously approved the recommendation of new rates to begin Sept. 1.

The council adopted a resolution authorizing and approving a loan agreement, providing for the issuance of $13,045,000 Taxable General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2017 and providing for the levy of taxes to pay the same.

The loan agreement is a refinancing of the outstanding amount on the Taxable Sewer Revenue Note, Series 2012, dated July 15, 2013.

The council also approved the Federal Aid Agreement for a Surface Transportation (STP) Program project of a PCC overlay on Central Avenue from Third Street North to Third Street South.

Eighty percent of the project cost will be reimbursed by federal STP funds of $600,000, with a 20 percent local input of $150,000, to cover the total project cost of $750,000.

Municipal Park to be restored to its glory days

Friday, April 15, 2016Kim Fickett, EditorLe Mars Sentinel

LE MARS -- Over the next year, the North and South Ponds at Municipal Park in Le Mars will receive a makeover in a second round of Community Betterment Projects (CBP2).At a recent Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Lunch 'n Learn, City Administrator Scott Langel spoke about how the city would like to restore the area to what it was like in the 1950's and 60's."The Le Mars Municipal pond, shelter house and campground was a very booming and vibrant recreation area for individuals and families during the mid-century period and beyond," Langel said. "The 'pit' as it was referred to, was the only public swimming area in Le Mars during that time. It was host to open swimming, private parties, and swimming lessons. People traveled near and far, and still do, to enjoy this quaint historic area along Willow Creek that Le Mars has to offer."Langel said over the last several decades, the quality of the area has declined."The quality of the pond water has needed improvement for quite some time to allow swimming and other water activities. Currently there are signs posted that it is not safe for swimming due to risk of fecal coliform bacteria," Langel said. "With its decline in the past several decades, and several individuals approaching city officials, we felt it is beyond the time to bring the area back to what it once was."Langel said the project will involve dredging of the North Pond to increase depth and filling it with new sand, restoring the swimming/beach area, restoring the ice skating rink, adding lighting around the recreational area and picnic areas, filling in the South Pond with north pond dredging, creating approximately 20 additional campsites to the South Pond area, and adding an RV sewage dump site.Langel said the dredging of the North Pond, which began this week, is expected to be complete in two months.In addition to the North and South Ponds, Langel said renovation of the existing shelter house will also begin in April."Due to the popularity and ever-growing demand and use of the shelter house, we felt there was a need for an updating renovation and expansion," he said.Improvements to the shelter house include a new roof, windows, electrical, and plumbing, addition of indoor restroom facilities, updating the kitchen/bar area, increasing the facility's seating capacity, enhancing the courtyard, the addition of an access road and entrance for catering, maintaining the site's historical integrity, converting the WPA building at the park entrance to a campground shower/restroom facility, and planting pine trees between the shelter house and golf cart sheds.Langel said the shelter house improvements are expected to take four months.Total cost for the Municipal Park projects is estimated at $1.15 million and will be funded by the Le Mar Area Betterment Foundation and grants."People are buzzing and excited when they hear about this project," Langel said. "Several individuals and groups have approached city officials in recent years to clean up, resurrect and expand this area."Eleven projects were a part of CBP1 between 2003 and 2007 and cost around $8.1 million. The projects were made possible by fundraising efforts that generated dollars between 2002 and 2003."There is a constant need for 'quality of life' enhancements in Le Mars to not only satisfy and retain current residents, but to attract new industries, businesses and citizens to live, work and play in Le Mars," Langel said.

2) Municipal Park Shelter House

Amount approved: $250,000

- Renovate Existing Shelter House


- New Roof, Windows, Electrical, Plumbing


- Add Indoor Restroom Facilities


- Update Kitchen/Bar Area


- Add Seating Capacity


- Update/Enhance Courtyard Area


- Add Access Road and Entrance for Catering


- Maintain Historical Integrity


- Convert WPA Building at Park Entrance to Campground Shower/Restroom Facility


- Plant Pine Trees between Shelter House and Golf Cart Sheds

Municipal Park to be restored to its glory days

Friday, April 15, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor
Le Mars Sentinel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LE MARS -- Over the next year, the North and South Ponds at Municipal Park in Le Mars will receive a makeover in a second round of Community Betterment Projects (CBP2).

At a recent Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Lunch 'n Learn, City Administrator Scott Langel spoke about how the city would like to restore the area to what it was like in the 1950's and 60's.

"The Le Mars Municipal pond, shelter house and campground was a very booming and vibrant recreation area for individuals and families during the mid-century period and beyond," Langel said. "The 'pit' as it was referred to, was the only public swimming area in Le Mars during that time. It was host to open swimming, private parties, and swimming lessons. People traveled near and far, and still do, to enjoy this quaint historic area along Willow Creek that Le Mars has to offer."

Langel said over the last several decades, the quality of the area has declined.

"The quality of the pond water has needed improvement for quite some time to allow swimming and other water activities. Currently there are signs posted that it is not safe for swimming due to risk of fecal coliform bacteria," Langel said. "With its decline in the past several decades, and several individuals approaching city officials, we felt it is beyond the time to bring the area back to what it once was."

Langel said the project will involve dredging of the North Pond to increase depth and filling it with new sand, restoring the swimming/beach area, restoring the ice skating rink, adding lighting around the recreational area and picnic areas, filling in the South Pond with north pond dredging, creating approximately 20 additional campsites to the South Pond area, and adding an RV sewage dump site.

Langel said the dredging of the North Pond, which began this week, is expected to be complete in two months.

In addition to the North and South Ponds, Langel said renovation of the existing shelter house will also begin in April.

"Due to the popularity and ever-growing demand and use of the shelter house, we felt there was a need for an updating renovation and expansion," he said.

Improvements to the shelter house include a new roof, windows, electrical, and plumbing, addition of indoor restroom facilities, updating the kitchen/bar area, increasing the facility's seating capacity, enhancing the courtyard, the addition of an access road and entrance for catering, maintaining the site's historical integrity, converting the WPA building at the park entrance to a campground shower/restroom facility, and planting pine trees between the shelter house and golf cart sheds.

Langel said the shelter house improvements are expected to take four months.

Total cost for the Municipal Park projects is estimated at $1.15 million and will be funded by the Le Mar Area Betterment Foundation and grants.

"People are buzzing and excited when they hear about this project," Langel said. "Several individuals and groups have approached city officials in recent years to clean up, resurrect and expand this area."

Eleven projects were a part of CBP1 between 2003 and 2007 and cost around $8.1 million. The projects were made possible by fundraising efforts that generated dollars between 2002 and 2003.

"There is a constant need for 'quality of life' enhancements in Le Mars to not only satisfy and retain current residents, but to attract new industries, businesses and citizens to live, work and play in Le Mars," Langel said.

Shelterhouse redesign revealed: CBP2 dollars put to work

Friday, May 12, 2017

By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter

Revitalizing Le Mars' 'Town Square'

Friday, April 22, 2016 Kim Fickett, EditorLe Mars Sentinel

LE MARS -- With hopes of garnering more interest in using the Olson Cultural Event Center, the city's leadership committee has identified the venue as one of several locations to be enhanced in a second round of Community Betterment Projects (CBP2)."The location of the facility was to help create a 'town square' like atmosphere to host a variety of events and programs," said City Administrator Scott Langel. "Although it does get used occasionally since its construction, it has not been utilized to the extent as was first anticipated."This reasoning was the backbone of the decision to incorporate the area into CBP2 stated Langel."It's felt improvements and enhancements will create a more park-like feeling and make the surroundings more attractive and enjoyable with grass and landscape features, more shade, and picnic and seating areas. With more events and programs held there, it will attract more visitors to the downtown business district," Langel said.Langel said improvements to the area include: removal of the parking lot while maintaining the brick-paved walks; adding eight to 10 picnic areas consisting of tables, covered pergolas, and water fountains; adding stadium seating with raised flower beds; enhancing landscaping with grass, trees, flowers and shrubs; upgrading the stage sound system; creating a permanent stage screen, enhancing outdoor lighting, placing banners on building at the south end of First Street; installing a sprinkler system, removing and replacing the parking lot behind the Postal Playhouse; and completing a street scape project on First Avenue.Langel said the stadium seating will consist of approximately 150-200 seats with half of the seating located on the southwest corner and the other half on the southeast corner. The seating will be built at a 45 degree angle.The project, which is a component of the city's parks and recreation system, is estimated to cost $350,000.Langel said the project improvements will begin in July and be complete by June of 2017."This project will increase cultural unity by hosting a variety of events and programs," Langel said. "The activities held there will not only attract more visitors to the downtown business district, but also continue to provide the City of Le Mars with another venue to promote cultural enrichment within the community and surrounding areas. It provides an area that is in close proximity to the Ice Cream Parlor and the Visitor's Center where visitors can stroll between to take in and enjoy all the downtown district has to offer."

4) Skate Board Park

Amount approved: $400,000

- Relocate to Northeast Corner of O’Toole Park


- New Design and Materials


- Construct Unisex Restroom

Rendering revealed for

new Le Mars skateboard park

Monday, December 24, 2018

By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor

LE MARS — A new skateboard park facility will be constructed in the spring of 2019.

Le Mars City Council members received a letter of intent between the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation (LABF) and the City of Le Mars confirming a donation of $275,000 from the LABF for the facility to be located in O’Toole Park.

The project will be constructed by private contractors and in-kind work. The donation was conditioned on the City of Le Mars contracting with the Sioux City Skateboard Association and Artisan Skateparks, along with their affiliated contractors, to construct the approximately 7,000-square-foot facility.

The Sioux City Skateboard Association provided the city with a contract outlining the scope of work for build services for the construction of a poured in place custom concrete skatepark facility.

Artisan Skateparks from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, also presented its contract and scope of work for the skatepark’s construction.

The two entities will work together on the project’s construction.

Sioux City Skateboard Association will serve as the general contractor on site, working with subcontractors on a design by Pillar Design Studios.

The skateboard park is one of 10 CBP II projects the LABF is assisting in funding in the community.

While there is a public bidding process for public improvements when public funds are utilized (Iowa Code Chapter 26), Section 26.6 of the code allows the public bidding process to be avoided if private funds are offered to a governmental entity for a building or improvement to be used by the public, and such funds are conditioned upon private construction of the project and, in this case the city, does not contribute any funds to such construction.

The Letter of Intent from the LABF fulfills that requirement. The city will receive the funds up front, which will allow the city to contract and pay for the contracts directly with the contractors.

Council member Clark Goodchild asked about the timing of construction with the upcoming Ice Cream Days/Le Mars Sesquicentennial Celebration in mid-June, including the parade route.

Acting City Administrator Jason Vacura said the intent is to start in early spring, with a construction time of three months.

Council member Ken Nelson said the skatepark will be located on the east side of O’Toole Park.

Two local men, Ben Sitzmann and Matt Lancaster, were present at the council meeting to answer questions. Vacura said the two had put the city in contact with the two entities which will serve as the project’s contractors.

Lancaster said he would relay the Ice Cream Days dates to the contractors.

Mayor Dick Kirchoff added his thanks to Lancaster and Sitzmann for working with the city in making the contacts for the skatepark plans.

The council approved the two contracts for a total of $264,000 for the skateboard park’s construction.

Revamped skateboard park coming soon

Monday, May 9, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor
Le Mars Sentinel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LE MARS -- A new and improved skateboard park is in the works for the City of Le Mars.

The dismantling, relocation and construction of the park is one of the projects identified under the second round of Community Betterment Projects.

City Administrator Scott Langel said it was the decision to incorporate the park into their plans "to expand the city's park and recreation system by providing a new and enhanced public space in a safe environment for the skateboarding youth in our community."

"The new skateboard park will offer opportunity for larger groups to engage in social interaction with other youth, which helps develop trusting and cohesive communities," Langel added.

The skateboard park is currently located in the northwest corner of the Le Mars Public Swimming Pool parking lot at the corner of 12th Street and First Avenue Southeast.

The plans call for the park to be relocated to the northeast corner of O'Toole Park at Central Avenue and Fourth Street Northeast. The skateboard park will face First Avenue Northeast.

Langel said the new location will be beneficial for two reasons.

"First is safety," Langel said. "It will provide a larger area which is more spread out to increase activity and reduce potential injuries due to close proximity. It also will not be located adjacent to a busy street, as is the current skate park. Secondly, it will compliment other park activities."

While the final design of the park hasn't been decided yet, Langel said various plans and layouts are being researched by the CBP2 Project Committee.

The new park will feature equipment conducive to a typical Urban Skateboard Park including, ramps, pipes, launch boxes, rails, drop-in obstacles and grind boxes.

The project is expected to begin in July with a completion date of June of 2017 and is expected to cost $500,000.

"A skateboard park provides a recreational opportunity for the youth in our community and helps reduce prohibited behavior," Langel said. "It is beneficial for youth as it works as a positive escape route where the community and all the skate park users begin to take ownership. This individual activity requires no organizing factors that limits the creativity of the individual and it can become a highly motivational sport that encourages perseverance and discipline. Both parents and health officials see it as a constructive and positive activity for youth."

5) Dog Park

Amount approved: $175,000

- Construct New Dog Park by Pond Near Airport


- Large Fenced in Area to Accommodate All Dog Sizes


- Include Benches, Tables, Cement Trail, Grass Areas, Waste Receptacles,

Drinking Fountains

It's gone to the dogs: CBP2 plan involves dog park


Monday, May 16, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor
Le Mars Sentinel

 

LE MARS -- Dogs in Le Mars and across Plymouth County will soon have a designated place all their own to run free and play.
City administrator Scott Langel identified the addition of a three-acre dog park as one of the planned Community Betterment Projects for the upcoming year.
The park, to be located at the south end of the pond near the Le Mars Municipal Airport, will be developed between July 2016 and June 2017.
"We want to provide a large fenced in green space as a dog park to accommodate dogs of all breeds and sizes in a safe, secure and friendly atmosphere," Langel said. "A dog park provides a safe and secure outlet for pet owners who do not have access to large areas to exercise and socialize their pets. The city intends to offer a dog park that will be well visited and loved by its community of dog-lovers."
Langel said the park would consist of a fenced in enclosure with benches, tables, a cement trail at the outer edge, grass areas, waste receptacles and drinking fountains.
The park is estimated to cost approximately $200,000.
"Dog parks provide the venue and opportunity for dogs to get the vital exercise and socialization they need, which are two major factors in reducing behavior issues," Langel stated. "Also, people tend to meet other dog owners, trainers and pet professionals at dog parks and are able to exchange information and resources that can further encourage responsible dog ownership."
Langel said the idea for the dog park came as a request by citizens.
"Plans were created by a previous engineering intern quite some time ago, so it was logical to incorporate this project with CBP 2 and offer one more opportunity to enhance quality of life in Le Mars," Langel said.

6) Extend Recreation Trail North & South

Amount approved: North Extension: $100,000 / South Extension: $90,000

- Connect South End from 200th Street to County Road C-38


- Connect North End from Old Hwy. 60 (Madison Avenue) to 150th St.

Future plans include trail expansion

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor

Ke Mars Sentinel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LE MARS -- More than two miles of trail will be added to the City of Le Mars' multi-purpose trail over the next three years.

City Administrator Scott Langel said the extension will involve one mile of new trail connecting the south end from 200th Street to County Road C-38. On the north end, one and a half miles of new pavement will be laid from Old Highway 60 (Madison Avenue) to 150th Street.

The current nine and a half mile ADA accessible recreation trail begins at the Le Mars Municipal Park/golf course and follows Willow Creek to the city's south corporate limits.

"The extension of the recreation trail will continue to serve the community as a safe and secure recreation and transportation system," Langel said. "The constant need for quality of life enhancements in Le Mars not only satisfies and retains current residents, but also attracts new industries, businesses and citizens to live, work and play in Le Mars."

Langel said due to the ever growing demand for workforce in Le Mars, the city and chamber of commerce have implemented a workforce development process in place where quality of life is vital.

"Local businesses continually request additional recreational opportunities for their employees to help improve their health and well-being," Langel added. "Communities with trails often benefit in terms of improvements in corporate relocation and retention rates, since quality of life is an important factor in choosing sites for business and industry. Also, there is an economic benefit as property values increase due to proximity to green space and increased overall community livability."

The south extension, expected to cost $90,000, will begin in summer 2017 and be complete in summer 2018.

Construction of the north extension will take place in summer 2018 and see completion in summer 2019. That extension is expected to cost $100,000.

"The recreational value of trails are often a city's foremost attraction," Langel said. "In addition to the entertainment values of recreation, there is a significant health and fitness benefit as most recreation activities on trails involve exercise. This health benefit accrues to the individual, and, in the form of reduced healthcare costs, to society as well."

7) Plywood Trail

Amount approved: $1,000,000

PlyWood Trail back in the spotlight

Friday, April 12, 2019

By Breeanna Pierce, news reporter

 

(Sentinel Photos by Breeanna Pierce) The PlyWood Trail kicked off its fundraising efforts at an event in the Willow Creek Banquet Hall, Thursday, April 11. The night featured speeches from two supporters: Wells Enterprises CEO Mike Wells, who between personal and business donations put up $2 million toward the project, and Siouxland Chamber of Commerce President Chris McGowan.


 

LE MARS — Community leaders and cycling enthusiasts gathered at the Willow Creek Golf Course and Banquet Hall, Thursday, April 11, to discuss the future of the PlyWood Trail, a project aimed at connecting Plymouth and Woodbury Counties with a continuous recreation trail.

“With ties in both counties, I could not be more pleased to see so many people so dedicated to making the PlyWood Trail vision a reality,” said Siouxland Chamber of Commerce President Chris McGowan.

The project began in 2010, gaining a committee structure in 2015. Since then, the PlyWood Trail Foundation has worked to turn their dream into reality.

“We’ve been working very, very hard with IDOT (Iowa Department of Transportation) to get to a point where we have coordinated with IDOT from a planning level and working on design documents, which we’ll send to IDOT for permit approval,” explained Ryan Meyer, chair of the PlyWood Trail Foundation. “The only thing that’s stopping us now before breaking ground in this process is funding.”

Recently, several large donations have brought the project’s fundraising efforts closer to their $18 million goal.

“We’re excited that Mike and Cheryl Wells along with Steve and Danna Schuster and their respective organizations see the importance of investing in the PlyWood Trail,” Meyer said. “We also want to thank the cities of Le Mars and Sioux City for all of their support.”

During the event’s presentation, over $4 million in donations already received were outlined:

• $1 million from Le Mars Betterment Foundation

• $2 million from Wells Enterprises and Mike and Cheryl Wells

• $150,000 from Schuster Trucking and Steve and Danna Schuster

• $875,000 from the City of Sioux City

• $5,000 from Plymouth County Cyclists

“Half a million of that $2 million is a personal contribution on behalf of Cheryl and I, and we want to put our name on it because we think it’s tremendously important to this community,” Wells Enterprises CEO Mike Wells stated as he addressed the crowd. “This is very near and dear to our hearts. The older we get, the more we realize how critically important it is to maintain mobility.”

One of the reasons the Wells, among others, have rallied around the project has been the potential for economic growth.

“We must find ways to attract new employees and young families to grow our populations and attract future taxpayers. We understand we must compete with other communities to provide quality of life that will bring in new people and these new families to our counties and our communities,” McGowan said. “We must recognize the level of importance mobile families put on these attractions.”

“With a trail system this long, we can host marathons,” Wells added. “There’s a variety of events we can host because of the continuous length of this trail that many other communities can’t, and that produces tremendous economic development and opportunities to showcase our communities.”

For cycling enthusiasts, a recreational trail would provide a safe mode of transportation between Le Mars and Sioux City.

“When I get out on the county roads, I actually don’t use my road bike anymore,” Wells shared. “I bought a different bike with bigger tires because not if but when I get forced off the road and onto the shoulder, I want to know I’m safe.”

If completed, the PlyWood Trail would be the largest trail in western Iowa, potentially serving an estimated 100,000 people annually.  

“We are breaking the route into three different connections,” Meyers explained of the route chosen along the Hwy 75 corridor. “One connection will run from Le Mars to Merrill. Another connection will run from Merrill to Hinton. The third would connect Hinton and Sioux City.”

In a brochure handed out amongst event goers, Connection 1 would cost $2.8 million, including two water crossings and one major bridge structure, with an estimated timeline from 2020-2021. The second connection, estimated 2022-2023, would cost $8.5 million and include nine minor water crossings. The final connection, slated for 2024-2025, is projected at $6.5 million, completing pedestrian and cycling access from Le Mars into Sioux City.

“A project of this significance must be recognized for the goodwill and community improvement it is designed to deliver,” McGowan said. “We should see this for what it is: people coming together, forming connections across jurisdictional boundaries, political divides and geographical separations to say we can and will do this together.”

But with an estimated price tag of $18 million to cover cost and maintenance, the PlyWood Trail Foundation is asking for financial support to get the project moving.

“Once we raise private donations of about half of that, the rest of it can be secured by matching public funding sources or grants,” Meyer explained to a crowd of roughly 30 attendees.

“We are a small but mighty group tonight,” Wells said. “This isn’t about a handful of large donations. This literally will be about a multitude of smaller, personal gifts on our way to making this a possibility.”

- Link Communities of Le Mars, Merrill, Hinton and Sioux City


- Provide a safe and secure transportation link by bicycle and pedestrian travel


- Increase recreational access for the communities along the trail, boost tourism, economic development, health and wellness


- Le Mars’ proposed Recreational Trail South extension identifies a trail option that would follow the Floyd River South of Le Mars from 195th Street to C-38, which would connect with the existing trail network.

Proposed trail to connect counties

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor
Le Mars Sentinel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LE MARS -- A trail system connecting Plymouth County to Woodbury County has become one of the projects that is front and center for phase two of the City of Le Mars Community Betterment Projects.

The project, entitled the PlyWood Trail, involves 16 miles of trail connecting the existing trail heads from the north end of Leeds to the south end of Le Mars.

Estimated at $20 million, the project is currently in its infancy with trail mapping expected to be complete in June 2016.

Jeff Stanley, chairman of the PlyWood Trail Executive Committee, said while discussions for the trail system began in 2010, a board and executive structure wasn't put in place until August 2015. Now with a formal committee in place, fundraising and trail construction is expected to begin late this year into next year.

"There is currently no formal trail that connects Sioux City, Hinton, Merrill and Le Mars," Stanley said. "County roads, such as K-22, are currently used by bikes and pedestrians, but it is not considered a safe route given the speed of traffic. We believe that this trail would enrich the Siouxland region and support Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative by providing people a world-class, connected trail system that helps improve quality of life and grows our local communities."

To date, $60,000 has been raised through donations by cities along the trail including Sgt. Bluff, Sioux City, Hinton, Merrill, and a private donation from Wells Enterprises.

"The cities have all been very supportive of the project from Sergeant Bluff and Sioux City all the way up to Le Mars," Stanley added.

Stanley did mention the project has not had the support of Plymouth County officials.

"The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors don't seem to have the same level of interest. I think their concern is more about roads and bridges and less about trails," he said.

Stanley said the committee is working closely with Wayne Schlotfeldt to finalize the trail map. Schlotfeldt is expected to present the final trail map to the foundation board of investors at the June 23 meeting.

Once the map has been approved, Stanley said the next step will be to focus on fundraising efforts with announcements to be made in the future.

"The vision for the PlyWood Trail is to create a safe and scenic transportation link for bicycle and pedestrian travel between Plymouth and Woodbury Counties connecting the communities of Le Mars, Merrill, Hinton, Sioux City and beyond," Stanley said.

Future plans include trail expansion

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor

Le Mars Sentinel

 

LE MARS -- More than two miles of trail will be added to the City of Le Mars' multi-purpose trail over the next three years.

City Administrator Scott Langel said the extension will involve one mile of new trail connecting the south end from 200th Street to County Road C-38. On the north end, one and a half miles of new pavement will be laid from Old Highway 60 (Madison Avenue) to 150th Street.

The current nine and a half mile ADA accessible recreation trail begins at the Le Mars Municipal Park/golf course and follows Willow Creek to the city's south corporate limits.

"The extension of the recreation trail will continue to serve the community as a safe and secure recreation and transportation system," Langel said. "The constant need for quality of life enhancements in Le Mars not only satisfies and retains current residents, but also attracts new industries, businesses and citizens to live, work and play in Le Mars."

Langel said due to the ever growing demand for workforce in Le Mars, the city and chamber of commerce have implemented a workforce development process in place where quality of life is vital.

"Local businesses continually request additional recreational opportunities for their employees to help improve their health and well-being," Langel added. "Communities with trails often benefit in terms of improvements in corporate relocation and retention rates, since quality of life is an important factor in choosing sites for business and industry. Also, there is an economic benefit as property values increase due to proximity to green space and increased overall community livability."

The south extension, expected to cost $90,000, will begin in summer 2017 and be complete in summer 2018.

Construction of the north extension will take place in summer 2018 and see completion in summer 2019. That extension is expected to cost $100,000.

"The recreational value of trails are often a city's foremost attraction," Langel said. "In addition to the entertainment values of recreation, there is a significant health and fitness benefit as most recreation activities on trails involve exercise. This health benefit accrues to the individual, and, in the form of reduced healthcare costs, to society as well."

8) YMCA Improvements

Amount approved: $2,200,000

· New Welcome Center Entrance Addition

· New Fitness Rooms· Meeting Rooms

· Y Camp Room· Auxiliary Gym

· Indoor and Outdoor Pool Enhancements

Renovation project moves forward

Monday, February 11, 2019

By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor

LE MARS — The Community Wellness Center (CWC) Expansion/Renovation Project took a step forward at the Feb. 5 council meeting.

The council authorized city staff to finalize an architectural agreement with CMBA for the design and preparation of bidding documents. Cost of that work is not to exceed $180,000.

The project is a part of the Community Betterment Project II (CBP II) and was approved for funding by the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation (LABF).

It is also one of five Vision Iowa CAT Grant projects. Vision Iowa awarded $450,000 toward the completion of the five projects. One of the conditions of the CAT grant is the project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2019.

Acting City Administrator Jason Vacura said he filed a request for a nine-month extension on the grant on Feb. 1.

“I almost immediately received a response from them, inviting me to Des Moines to ask in person. That will take place Feb. 13,” Vacura said.

At that time he will explain the past history of the project, developments, where it is today, and the new schedule.

“Hopefully they give us an extension. If they don’t, the December deadline is still in place,” Vacura said.

One result could be some of the CAT grant money could be pulled, based on what has been done on the four other projects.

He also explained there have been some changes to the plan, including the potential of a suspended walking track in the gym. The plan calls for an addition to the lower level for entrance and interior renovation.

“If anything changes in that scope or changes in the estimate, an application has to be resubmitted to LABF. That hasn’t happened yet,” Vacura said.

“Even though they approved it, it’s been a couple of years now, they approved $2 million,” Vacura said. If the scope of the project is for less dollars, the LABF could change as well.

Once the city has a final timeline and makes the request to Vision Iowa, and know the outcome, a new application will be submitted to the LABF.

“CMBA will do the design. They are not 100 percent sure that it will work as a suspended track. That thorough inspection hasn’t been done yet,” Vacura said.

CMBA estimates the cost of the work at $940,000 for the addition to the south; $262,500 for the interior renovation; $500,000 for the suspended track; and a contingency of $255,375, for a total project cost of $1,957,875.

According to a timeline from CMBA, it proposes to complete the design in August 2019. Bids for construction would be received in September with construction starting in October 2019 and lasting approximately 12 months. The extension request to Vision Iowa will push back the construction completion until the fall of 2020.

YMCA joins list of Community Betterment Projects
Monday, June 27, 2016
Kim Fickett, Editor Le Mars Sentinel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LE MARS -- The Le Mars YMCA has been added to the list of Community Betterment (CBP2) Projects.
The $1.2 million renovation would involve a new welcome center entrance addition, new fitness rooms, meeting rooms, a Y Camp room, and an auxiliary gym.

"The front addition would be to make a more centralized and welcoming area for all those using the facility to enter by," said Todd Lancaster, Le Mars YMCA executive director. "Currently our front desk is a distance from the main lower level entrance and it is a challenge to monitor everyone entering the building. Moving our offices forward to the front would be of great benefit to not only our staff but users of the YMCA."

Lancaster added this improvement may also allow the facility to offer 24-hour access to areas of the building.

In addition to the welcome area, Lancaster said the multi-purpose addition -- which would encompass the new fitness rooms, meeting rooms, Y Camp room and auxiliary room -- would replace the current fitness annex building.

"Our fitness annex was built in the 1950's I believe and is going to need some major repairs soon. The multi-purpose addition would allow us to have additional fitness rooms for our classes plus a place to have our summer Y Camp and Apple Tree Camp," Lancaster stated.

Currently the Y Camp is held in the lobby on the second level of the building and the Apple Tree Camp is held in a meeting/storage room.

"To have their own space for those 225-250 kids in the summer would be great. It would also enable us to look into after school programs," Lancaster said.

"We could have rooms for community rental in the addition. We would also be able to have a small auxiliary gym in the addition for Y programs, rental space and more open gym time," he added.

In addition, as the YMCA expands their programs into more health and wellness such as their Diabetes Prevention Program and Finding a Healthier You, the multi-purpose addition would give a space for those programs.

Lancaster said the YMCA 's needs were determined by surveying its members and other users asking what is needed, as well as the board studying the facility's needs.

"We even talked with community members as to what they may want to see added to the Y," Lancaster said.

The Le Mars YMCA is housed in the former Westmar College Life Sports Center which was built in the early 1990's. Since its construction, no structural improvements to the facility have been done.

"We serve a wide population of citizens with our programs and events and we feel these changes and additions to the facility will enhance their usage and allow us to expand the offerings we give to the community as a whole," Lancaster said.

9) BMX Track

Amount approved: $40,000

- The BMX Track will remain at its current location along the north bank of the Floyd River, just west of the Le Mars Little League Fields.  


- The location next to the Recreation Trail and New Pedestrian Bridge provides safe and easy access and is beneficial to those who use the track.


- Improvements and enhancements will be made to the track and a new storage shed added.

Pedal power: Dirt BMX track planned for Le Mars


Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By Magdalene Landegent
Le Mars Sentinel

 

A new dirt track that will give BMX bikers a chance to grab some air and power through obstacles is in the works for Le Mars.
Ground has been broken for the off-road bicycle track west of Le Mars at a site just west of the Floyd River and just south of Highway 3.
It will be the only track within 120 miles, according to Monte Brent, of Bike Central in Le Mars. Brent is helping coordinate the project.
The city of Le Mars owns the land and is working with contractors to build the BMX track, according to City Administrator Scott Langel.
A completion date isn't set yet.
The track will consist of several obstacles where cyclists will have to negotiate turns and jumps, Brent said.
"There will be a starting hill that will go into a couple of jumps into a turn, then there will be some whoop-de-doos they'll have to do through," he said. "Whoop-de-doos are kind of like the old washboard -- they're a series of mounds equal in size."
The BMX course will also include some tabletops, which are flat-topped jump hills.
"It's really similar to a motocross track, but on a bicycle, so all the jumps are a lot smaller," Brent said.
Fast riders should be able to complete the course in less than one minute, he said.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It's a workout. It may only be a minute, but when you're done, you're done."
Planning and work on the BMX track started early this spring.
The Le Mars Parks Committee approved the track site on land the city already owned, Langel said.
The city had already hired an earthwork crew to complete projects nearby, including removing dirt for the final time from a borrow site, so dirt was available for the track, he added.
Brent plans to be at the site to help the earth-movers design the course.
The track will be 2 feet higher than the ground around it so that it will drain when it rains, he explained.
The obstacles will be constructed out of a clay-type soil so it will pack well and be smooth, he added.
"We need a good rain so the dirt can get formed properly. There's just not enough moisture content in the dirt," Brent said.
Additional sandy soil may be placed on top of the clay soil to improve the surface further, he said.
When the track is complete, people will be able to access it from Highway 3 west, taking the first access road south after the Floyd River bridge.
"We're planning on having parking there, which will be dual purpose -- both for the track and for the recreation trail that winds around Le Mars," Brent said.
The city is also planning to construct a path for bicyclists and pedestrians to access the recreation trail and BMX track along Highway 3 west.
The BMX track is actually Brent's brainchild.
Brent used to live in Colorado near a BMX track, and he saw how much the youth used and enjoyed it.
"Keeping the kids doing something productive is the main reason," he said. "It's just another thing for our community to have for our kids. Not everybody is going to play football; not everybody's going to play baseball; not everybody's going to play basketball. And even those kids that do are still going to have a chance to enjoy this, too."
In addition, a lot of young people in the area have BMX bikes and they don't have a place to really ride them, Brent said.
Brent predicts having a BMX track in Le Mars will draw people from around the region.
"The nearest tracks are somewhere by the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and there's another track in Omaha, and other than that you'll have to drive a lot farther," he said. "Once we get this going, it's going to bring some business to town."
This summer BMX biking will be included in the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, so that will spike people's interest, Brent noted.
The BMX events in the Olympics will take place Aug. 8-10.
Brent hopes to have races at the new track next year, if city officials are on board with the idea.
"The goal is to have sanctioned races at the track," he said.
Brent's dream: eventually adding a scoring tower, a start gate and some bleachers to make races possible.
"Now that it's an Olympic sport, who knows, someday some kid from Le Mars, Iowa, could be there," he said.
Brent acknowledged there is some danger involved in BMX bicycling.
He suggested wearing the proper gear, such as a helmet and elbow guards, and going at a pace appropriate to each person's skill level.
There will be no age requirement to use the track, he said.
Brent said the first design for the track will be as safe as he can make it while still being challenging and fun.
Plans now are to allow people to use the BMX track for free, Brent said.
"There are going to be some regulations -- you have to have a helmet, no motorized vehicles," he said. "And there's going to be some etiquette, just watching out for everybody."
Brent said he spent most of his younger days, when he was 10-12 years old, riding BMX bikes.
Since then, he's raced motocross, mountain bicycles and road bicycles.
"It just gives kids something to do beside play video games," he said. "There's a need for it."
Brent wants to help Le Mars stay progressive with cycling.
He's been a part of regular community bike rides and Le Mars' new offering of cyclocross races, which are off-road bicycle endurance races.
Cycling in general has gained attention in the Le Mars area in the past few years, Brent said.
This BMX track will only add to that, he said.
"A lot of kids have bicycles and just don't have a place to ride them, to go out and experience a little off-road bicycling," he said. "It'll be fun to see the kids out there."

10) Le Mars Postal Playhouse

TABLED  January 2017 until July 2017 when Approved for funding following the approval from the Gilchrist Foundation Grant Monies of $100,000.

Description: Le Mars Postal Playhouse is owned by the City of Le Mars, and is utilized by the Le Mars Community Theatre as a facility for the performing arts.  The Le Mars Community Theatre hosts productions during the year that are very well attended.  The Le Mars Community Theatre enriches quality of life by offering an artistic and cultural outlet for residents of all ages in the greater Le Mars area.  The Le Mars Postal Playhouse would like to construct an addition of 600 square feet onto the north face of the existing building for behind the stage activities and better interior access to the basement (where all the customs, stage props, etc. are stored).  They are asking of LABF $100,000.  Enhancements to the building will allow them to better provide quality performances to their audiences.  LABF tabled this request pending fund availability in January 2017.  Then, in July of 2017 LABF received Grant Monies from the Gilchrist Foundation totaling $100,000.  Because of this – LABF has not  approved for funding.

Postal Playhouse project gets green light to move forward

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter

LE MARS — The Postal Playhouse North Addition project is nearly ready to get underway.

The Le Mars City Council unanimously approved a $15,000 city match to the $15,000 the Le Mars Community Theatre had previously raised. 

A $100,000 grant from the Gilchrist Foundation of Sioux City will also go towards the project, which will significantly increase flexibility in staging productions, technical abilities and theatre storage space.

The project will see the deteriorated entry vestibule on the building’s north side be torn down, and a 20 x 40 foot north addition added in its place.

Before the vote, Le Mars City Administrator Scott Langel explained why the city match was necessary.

“At this juncture, my estimate is demolition, $6,000, pure construction of the shell, $55,000, finishes outside and inside plus HVAC and electrical, $40,000,” Langel said. “With contingencies, I think the estimate grows to $130,000 total.”

Langel expanded city funding part of the project.

“The Iowa legislature has given cities the authority to spend somewhere between $135,000 and $140,000 in vertical infrastructure without going through a formal bid opening process,” Langel said. “However, I do feel this meeting does qualify for notice to you (the council) and to the public that we’re doing the project and then we would simply get quotations and not formal bids.”

Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff said with funding secured from the foundation, the project should be started as soon as possible.

“Through the Gilchrist Foundation, one of the recommendations is it should be done by the end of the year,” Kirchoff said.

Langel added Jeremy Sitzmann will serve as the project’s construction manager.

Councilman Clark Goodchild made the motion approving the project not to exceed $130,000, and also had words of praise for the theatre.

“I think that organization does a phenomenal job,” Goodchild said.

Share your thoughts!

 

Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation
50 Central Ave SE

Le Mars, IA 51031
Ph: 712-546-8821

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