BY: RACHEL SMITH
Most years, Election Day comes and goes without much fanfare. The only time I ever really acknowledge it is when I’m bombarded with Presidential ad campaigns at every turn.
But this year, there’s a special reason to mark your calendar to get out and vote in Mason City. That reason is the $10million bond issue vote for construction and renovation into the downtown project.
So, what does that mean exactly? Well, it means a 106-room hotel will be built in the City parking lot south of Younkers, which will be connected to the new Meredith Wilson museum. A skywalk will suspend over Federal Ave and link the complex to the current Music Man Square, which will receive its own facelift to serve as a hotel conference center.
A multi-purpose arena will be built inside the vacant JC Penney store and serve as a venue for ice sports, concerts, sporting tournaments and more. An indoor/outdoor performance pavilion will be the new home for the Mason City Municipal Band and an enhanced Plaza entrance into Southbridge.
Whoa. This is incredible. And not just for the people of Mason City who get to beautify and upgrade their city, but for everyone in the North Iowa region. Can you imagine if our youth hockey league could host a regional tournament here? And the ice will only be seasonal. The rest of the year, the arena will host concerts, expos and sporting events.
Just think about the influx of people that will stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, realize they forgot to pack underwear and have to run to the store.
The other day, as I researched this very topic, I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole of online comments. The biggest concern it seemed was the increase of taxes. Well, the answer to that is a giant NO. If this passes, your property taxes will not increase. The new arena and pavilion will increase the assessed value of Southbridge, thus, their property taxes will be used to pay back the bonds for building the improvements.
But do you know what will happen if it DOESN’T pass? You property taxes will increase. Yup, you read that correctly. You see… the population of Mason City is shrinking, and with fewer people “pulling the cart” so to speak, YOU will need to cover the additional cost.
Okay, so if property tax money isn’t an issue, what is? The deeper I dug, the more I noticed comments like, “This is the LAST thing Mason City needs.”
Um… okay. So tell me then, how do you propose bringing in the millions of tourism dollars that have been lost in the last few years?
This is the answer. This is the breath of fresh air that Mason City needs to take a step in the right direction of growth and community development.
The Clear Lake Chamber stands behind this vote 100% and encourages the people of Mason City to really think about the future of their city. Get out and vote YES on November 7th!!
For more information go to www.masoncitysaysyes.com or check out the River City Renaissance Project on Facebook.