Bettendorf city staff confident in securing grant funding for water park | Politics and elections

Two casino and gaming revenue grant agencies plan to give Bettendorf’s proposed new water park $5 million in grants. And city officials are confident that other funding agencies will follow.

The city of Bettendorf and the YMCA propose to jointly build a new 20,000 square meter water park with three-story slides, a lazy river, a swimming pool and a paddling pool.

City officials gave City Council members Tuesday a summary of two agreements with the YMCA — one to build and operate the water park and one to transfer ownership of the Life Fitness Center.

The two agreements record what city officials have shared with the City Council and the public regarding their proposal to sell Life Fitness Center to the YMCA and share the cost of building a new water park with the YMCA.

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The replacement for the current municipal Splash Landing is expected to cost $18.6 million to be split evenly between the city, the YMCA, and grants and donors.

And according to City Councilman Decker Ploehn, the project is on track to fill the grant-funded slice of the pie.

Plöhn said the city and YMCA received $4 million over 12 years from the Scott County Regional Authority, which awards grants to charitable projects out of gaming revenue at Bettendorf’s Isle Casino. And the Regional Development Authority, which is associated with Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, plans to support the project with $1 million over five years.

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In the meantime, according to Plöhn, the city can use its liquidity reserves, secure the project bonds or other direct sources of funding.

Plöhn added that the city is seeking additional grants from three other foundations, but he can’t name those agencies as they are ongoing.

“I think we’ll secure all three,” said Ploehn. “We asked for $2 million, $1 million from each entity and a quarter million from the third entity, which is the maximum they would allow.”

As for the other pieces of the pie, the city plans to use its share of $5.4 million in COVID-19 relief funds, and YMCA CEO Brad Martell told a reporter the YMCA has enough cash to pay its share .

What does the agreement say?

Under the water park agreement, the YMCA would operate the new water park while the city would own the facilities and land. Under the 20-year agreement, the YMCA would be responsible for running the facility and all repairs. It also covers any operating losses or profits from the facility.

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The council will hold a public hearing on the agreements at the next council meeting on 4 October at 7pm at Bettendorf town hall. The Council will then vote on the agreements once later that night.

Read the Life Fitness Center Ownership Transfer Agreement

Read the agreement for the planned city-owned, YMCA-operated water park to be called The Landing

City Attorney Chris Curran told council members that the new water park would be open to non-YMCA members for a daily fee that was “reasonable” compared to other Quad Cities facilities, in addition to YMCA members.

The City would be responsible for capital improvements under the agreement, which would typically be in excess of $5,000 and/or have a lifespan in excess of 2 years.

Curran added that some language changes would likely be made before the public hearing.

Under the Life Fitness Center agreement, the city would complete the sale of Life Fitness Center to the YMCA by December 15.

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The YMCA would pay $1.43 million for the building, which would be used to construct The Landing, the proposed city-owned water park operated by the YMCA.

The YMCA would also agree to retain indoor tennis for at least two years or when another two-court facility opens on the Iowa side of the Quad-Cities.

Alderman Jerry Sixer asked employees if the city could raise the asking price for the Life Fitness Center.

But Ploehn and council members said the YMCA had committed to putting $6 million into the water park in exchange for the building, so it would just split the YMCA’s $6 million contribution differently.

“We saw it as a kind of exercise in futility,” said Plöhn.

What about doggy splash?

Alderman Scott Webster asked city officials and Martel if the new water park would retain the popular end-of-season day when guests can bring their dogs to splash and swim at Splash Landing.

Everyone quickly replied with a “yes”.

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