WAVERLY, Iowa --- The city will put a down payment on property for a proposed ball diamond and fairgrounds facility on the city's southwest side.
The City Council on Monday agreed to pay $3,600 to Neil Smith for a purchase option on 142 acres off Iowa Highway 3. The land is near CUNA Mutual Group.
The decision essentially gives the city the right to act on the option through 2012 and to buy all of the property, in segments, through 2016.
If the project moves forward, the proposed site would also become home for the Bremer County Fairgrounds. The existing complex is at Memorial Park along Fourth Street Southwest. The fairgrounds would share space with 12 diamonds for youth and adult baseball and softball.
Multiple sites were considered but the Smith property made the final cut, in part because of accessibility and potential to provide visibility for the fair, City Administrator Dick Crayne said.
"Both parties have a need for a good transportation route," he added.
The council must still decide whether to move forward with a purchase but is expected to do so next year after a site engineering survey. Fundraising plans must also be are developed.
Monday night's action, though, is significant in its own right, said Dan McKenzie, co-chair of the ball diamond-fairgrounds task force. The city's support is crucial to the project's success, he added.
"This is really the first time we've gotten an indication on how serious the city is in partnering with the program," McKenzie said. "They are agreeing to be the owner of the ball diamond space and willing to be a fund manager during the acquisition."
The council also approved a development agreement Monday between the city and the Bremer County Fair Association and the Ball Diamond Development Committee. The latter represents the Waverly Softball Association, the Waverly-Shell Rock Area Baseball Boosters and the Greater Waverly Youth Softball Association.
The agreement allows some engineering and design work to begin at the site, which will help clarify a layout for the complex and initial cost estimates. The information, coupled with a fundraising plan drawn up by project advocates sometime next year, will help the city determine how to proceed, according to Crayne.
"And all those things have to be put forward in order for the council to make a decision," he added.
The city and fair association are each responsible for 40 percent of costs associated with initial engineering and design services. The ball diamond committee will provide the rest.
The city may acquire the first 60 acres at $11,000 per acre. The expense could be funded by issuing a general obligation bond, meaning the public could ask for an election. The remaining land would go for $9,268 per acre.
Of the first 60 acres, 40 would be sold to the Bremer County Fair Association. The remaining 20 acres owned by the city would be used for the first phase of the ball diamond complex.
Plans call for an additional 40 acres to develop playing fields. The remainder of the Smith property could be used for fairgrounds.
"We know this is going to be a multiyear development," McKenzie said.