Lakeville eyes liquor fund for Heritage Center bridge loan
Park dedication fund fees were an original, unpopular consideration
By Aaron M. Vehling
Work on the Heritage Center in Lakeville is progressing. The City Council decided at a work session tonight to use the city’s liquor fund as a source for a bridge loan to cover about $400,000 the city anticipates it will receive from fundraising and the sale of the existing downtown Senior Center over the course of time.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Michaud proposed last month to use park dedication funds for that purpose, but it was unpopular with the Council. Park dedication funds are levied on developers to pay for amenities such as parks and trails. This project, which will house the new Senior Center and offices for Lakeville Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and the Lakeville Area Historical Society, was deemed to exist outside those parameters.
The liquor fund serves as a suitable alternative, some of the council members said, because it has often been used to pay for various building and improvement projects. This would apply to the Heritage Center, which is a remodel of the former police station. It is set to open this fall.
Kerrin Swecker was one of the council members to echo that sentiment with regard to the liquor fund, highlighting precedent.
“I don’t think park dedication (funds) should be used at all,” she said.
Council Members Laurie Rieb and Matt Little agreed with Swecker that the liquor fund was a good option. Mayor Mark Bellows and Council Member Colleen Ratzlaff LaBeau said they did not want to proceed with the project until the current Senior Center building is sold.
“The former police station stands as a monument to government ineptness and inefficiency,” Bellows said. Before its current remodel, the former police station was vacant for about four years.
Of the approximately $400,000 the city would need to cover, about $208,000 of that would eventually be reimbursed from the sale of the current building. The balance would need to come from fundraising. So far, Michaud said, the city has raised about $55,000 toward the project.
The city received lower-than-expected bids on the project, in addition to some reprieve with regard to the amount of money the city would have to repay the federal government in community development block grants connected to the current Senior Center building. This brings the cost of the project down from $1,120,000 to $1,095,524.
More on this story is forthcoming.
Aaron is at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook.