City of Bettendorf staff confident of water park grant | Politics and elections

Two casino and gaming revenue subsidy agencies plan to give Bettendorf’s proposed new water park $5 million in subsidies. And city staff say they’re confident other granting agencies will follow suit.

The City of Bettendorf and the YMCA are proposing to jointly build a new 20,000-square-foot water park with three-story waterslides, a lazy river, a lap pool and a kiddy pool, among other features.

City staff on Tuesday provided city council members with a summary of two agreements with the YMCA — one for the construction and operation of the water park and the other for the transfer of ownership of the Life Fitness Center.

Both agreements put in writing what city staff said to city council and the public about their proposal to sell the Life Fitness Center to the YMCA and share the costs of building a new water park with the YMCA.

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Replacing the current city-owned Splash Landing is expected to cost $18.6 million, to be split equally between the city, YMCA, grants and donors.

And, according to city administrator Decker Ploehn, the project is well on its way to fulfilling the grant-funded piece of the pie.

Ploehn said the city and YMCA secured $4 million over 12 years from the Scott County Regional Authority, which provides grants for non-profit projects from casino gambling revenue. Island in Bettendorf. And the Regional Development Authority, linked to the Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, plans to give the project $1 million over five years.

In the meantime, Ploehn said, the city could use its cash reserves, bond the project, or secure other sources of immediate grants.

Ploehn added that the city was seeking further grants from three other foundations, but he could not name those agencies yet because they had not been finalized.

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

As for other slices of pie: The city plans to use its $5.4 million share of COVID-19 relief funds, and YMCA CEO Brad Martell told a reporter that the YMCA had enough cash in hand to pay his share.

What’s in the chords?

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 operating the facility and any repairs. It will also cover the operating losses or profits of the installation.

The council will hold a public hearing on the agreements at the next council meeting on October 4 at 7 p.m. at Bettendorf City Hall. The council will then vote only once on the deals later that night.

Read the Life Fitness Center Transfer of Ownership Agreement

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

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

The city would be responsible for capital improvements, under the agreement, that would typically be over $5,000 and/or have a lifespan of over 2 years.

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

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

The YMCA would pay $1.43 million for the building, which would go toward building The Landing, the proposed city-owned and YMCA-operated water park.

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

Alderman Jerry Sechser asked staff if the city could raise the Life Fitness Center’s asking price.

But Ploehn and board members said the YMCA had pledged $6 million to the water park in exchange for the building, so it would only allocate the YMCA’s $6 million contribution differently.

“We kind of saw it as an exercise in futility,” Ploehn said.

And Doggy Splash?

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

All were quick to respond with a “yes”.