"

“I hope, too, that this sends a message to future people who have a problem with any future project that comes in front of our board that just filing a lawsuit wouldn’t necessarily stop our own actions.”

— Kyle Carter, Enhance Iowa board member, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership

"
Enhance Iowa Board members Emily Damman and Kyle Carter speak in support of Carroll's library modernization project during a meeting that awarded Carroll a grant of almost $500,000 for the project.
Enhance Iowa Board members Emily Damman and Kyle Carter speak in support of Carroll's library modernization project during a meeting that awarded Carroll a grant of almost $500,000 for the project.

September 13, 2018

EARLHAM

Iowa’s Enhance Iowa Board Wednesday morning unanimously approved a $491,292 state Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant for the Carroll Public Library modernization project, capping a years-long fundraising effort with a final-dollars-in boost for a public-works project debated in Carroll for nearly two decades.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, 471 businesses, individuals and organizations had donated $2.15 million toward the Carroll Library Foundation’s $2.5 million goal. The state grant of nearly a half million dollars puts the foundation total well past its aim at $2.65 million — with some expenses and additional fundraising dollars flowing into the mix in coming weeks.

“I give you credit for patience and perseverance, very good job,” Enhance Iowa board member Patrick Deignan of Cedar Rapids said during the state panel’s session at Bricker-Price Block, a community center in Earlham, a Madison County community just outside of Des Moines.

The City of Carroll is moving forward with a plan to expand the library within the Farner Government Building and build a new City Hall in the old Commercial Savings Bank, donated to the city for the purposes of improving the library, after a successful vote last August through which Carroll voters approved a $3.8 million bond referendum for the project.

The remainder of the funds for the estimated $6.8 million project would be funded through library foundation fundraising and other city funds.

Library foundation and city officials have met in person four times — in Urbandale, Cedar Falls, Danville and Earlham — with the Enhance Iowa Board to advocate for the state funding. Library advocates expected to receive the grant a month ago at an Enhance Iowa meeting in the far southeast Iowa city of Danville but faced a delay due to a lawsuit against the city filed Aug. 7 by Dr. Richard Collison of Carroll, an outspoken opponent of the library plan who says the project will exceed estimated cost projections and is otherwise flawed.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday in Boone on the city’s motion to dismiss Collison’s lawsuit.

Kristin Hanks-Bents, assistant legal counsel for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, said she sought an opinion from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which is “comfortable with the board moving forward” with the grant for Carroll.

The language of the arrangement between the state and the City of Carroll requires that 50 percent of total project money is spent before Enhance Iowa releases its portion of the funding.

“The city will have to be in a position where they are going to finish the project,” Hanks-Bents said.

Construction on the library is scheduled to start Oct. 8 and run for a year.

Enhance Iowa Board member Emily Damman of Indianola credited Carroll City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver and other representatives from Carroll with exhibiting “grace” during the full grant process.

“Your commitment to this project is really phenomenal, but bigger than that, your community has really shifted every time you have gotten feedback from your community,” Damman said. “I think it is really impressive. I’m excited we are going to partner with you. I thank you for your patience and your grace in this.”

Board member Kyle Carter of Davenport said Carroll library supporters and the city showed that broad support exists for the project.

“You have done more in my opinion than you needed to do to make this viable, so I am looking forward to moving forward on this,” Carter said.

There’s a larger issue involved for the statewide board as well, said Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership.

“I hope, too, that this sends a message to future people who have a problem with any future project that comes in front of our board that just filing a lawsuit wouldn’t necessarily stop our own actions,” Carter said.