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Roughly 45 people attended the second meeting for the proposed Gold Center on Monday, June 12 to ask questions and learn more about the potential project.
Gold Center executive board members have expressed the project is still in the early stages of development, and any information presented they have presented is currently based on projections, and not yet final.
Audience questions, shared anonymously using menti.com, focused primarily on better understanding how the facility would serve and impact the local community. Daric O’Neal with APMA, the firm hired to complete the concept drawings, opened the question and answer session by sharing a few questions the Gold Center executive board had received after the initial meeting.
In regards to safety, concerns about students crossing the highway on foot from the nearby school buildings have been expressed.
A member of the Gold Center board stated they have already talked with an engineer, and a viaduct could be placed under Highway 169. Moving on to the next item, they did not address the cost or who would be responsible for the additional project.
In response to questions about the need for a competition sized gym, Gold Center board members shared they hope to host tournaments and offer additional recreational league sports, pickleball, and host large gatherings. The addition of the indoor walking track above the gym would also meet a huge need.
Gold Center board members then addressed concerns about how the proposed facility may potentially impact other local businesses and organizations, including:
• With the SWCC campus being less than an hour away, is an additional site needed?
Gold Center board member Kim Bishop noted that transportation to the SWCC campus in Creston is a real barrier for some families. The Gold Center aims to offer CTE education opportunities locally, which then encourages people to stay in our community. With a $1 Million grant already secured for CTE education, Bishop noted that SWCC will be building a satellite campus. Ringgold County has the opportunity to host it as part of the Gold Center.
• Firebird Fitness center is preparing to open in Mount Ayr this fall, and the ROA building, and the American Legion both offer meeting spaces, how will local businesses be impacted?
A Gold Center board member stated they had spoken with business owners and organization members, and while there may be some overlap in services, the venues would meet community needs in different ways.
In response to how the Gold Center would serve low to moderate income families, Brandi Shay stated they are “probably not going to be able to serve every family in our community.” However, Morgan Waldeier noted the Gold Center could set aside endowment funds to help families cover membership fees. Daric O’Neal with APMA, also noted that since the facility would operate as a 501c3 organization, corporate donations or sponsorships could be utilized to help those that would otherwise not be able to pay membership fees.
The majority of questions the Gold Center executive board members fielded were related to project costs and feasibility:
• How can Ringgold County support the Gold Center when several other recreational facilities located in larger areas are not covering their operational costs?
• How would budget shortfalls be covered after the initial year?
The early 3-year projections indicate the Gold Center would cover projected costs and not operate at a loss according to finance committee members Brandi Shay, Mike Kemery, and Morgan Waldeier. Gold Center board members stated they do have some donors willing to give funds towards specific areas, once the project has broken ground.
• Could you provide some more information or share some of the ideas you are considering for the capital campaign?
Kim Greenland noted they have not yet started their capital campaign efforts and are open to suggestions as nothing is set in stone yet.
• If the Mount Ayr City Council votes this project down, is it possible to move forward?
• Are you planning to build this facility in phases?
Daric O’Neal with APMA, stated “the most cost effective option is to construct all at once,” and they have not yet discussed constructing the Gold Center in phases. However, O’Neal said they could make the pool a future phase, although “project costs never get cheaper.”
Regarding the project timeline, the Gold Center executive board plans to spend an additional 12-16 months planning, with another public meeting to be held in the fall of 2023. The long term plan is for the facility to be operational in 2026.
The Gold Center is seeking to grow their committees, and noted additional ideas, input, and expertise is welcomed as they continue to work through the planning process. Input and questions can be emailed to: