Wednesday night the Jasper Common Council talked about the possibility of appropriating funds from the LOIT Special Distribution Fund. The money would be used to aid the Jasper Volunteer Fire Dept in their efforts to purchase a new Emergency Squad for the Department and also help with expenses for downtown professional services from Rundell Ernstberger Associates.
Fire Chief Kenny Hochgesang told the council the department wants to replace the current squad which is more than 20 years old, but that the older truck would still be maintained.
The department made a purchase of a new truck that happen to exceed the amount previously requested and were requesting appropriating funds to even out the expense. The board asked Hochegsang about funding and agreed that the funds are there to balance out the remaining cost of the new truck, however they didn’t vote just yet, as the resolution also included another item that needed to be discussed before moving forward with a vote.
Councilman and Jasper Redevelopment Commission President, John Bell, explained that the appropriation of $400,000 will target the cost of professional services from Rundell Ernstberger Associates to continue onto Phase 2 of the proposed Jasper Courthouse Square project.
Prior to making any vote or hearing public comment on the issue the board began a discussion that lead to a debate on the necessity or urgency to release $400,000 towards the redevelopments. A number of council members reflected on public input they received regarding the necessity of the aesthetic portion of the project and its costs.
Councilman Dave Hurst, says that as a council they represent the people who have reached out to them saying too much money is being used for the project.
Councilman Greg Schnarr, noted that the council needs to evaluate the project further in order to do their diligence with the public in mind and provide more information on the progress of the project.
Bell reminded the board that if delays on the project occur at this point it could hold construction further and will eventually result in increased costs. He stated that the project currently has a positive momentum to continue to move forward.
Councilman Kevin Manley, stated that moving to Phase 2 with the project and spending more money without an actual idea of concrete design concerns him as he referred back to the Parklands project where the design implementation was in their Phase 1.
Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, lead the conversation towards making a vote, where one member of the council placed requests to only accept appropriating money for the fire department under Ordinance No. 2016-11.
This initiated further discussion, in efforts to come to some sort of agreement Schnarr, proposed that $150,000 be considered instead of $400,000. Schnarr says infrastructure issues do need to be addressed so in order to continue the project he proposed some funds to at least go forward and not completely dismiss the idea.
The $150,000 will be going towards to the Geo-technical engineering, design, and public outreach.
Upon the agreement of continuing some progress the council voted 5-2 in favor of Ordinance No.2016-11 that included funds for both the downtown redevelopment and fire truck.
For more information on the Jasper Courthouse Square project visit their website: JasperCourthouseSquare.com .