The Vinton City Council has received the official Iowa Braille School Task Force recommendation for the future of the campus.
Nearly a year after the city received the startling offer from the Iowa Board of Regents to assume the entire campus for $1, Vinton Unlimited Director Melissa Schwan visited Thursday’s council meeting to present and discuss the recommendation the committee has been working on for several months.
The recommendation, said Schwan, is that “Vinton should work toward full ownership” but with the following stipulations:
- A small committee will be formed to help city officials plan the future of the site;
- A feasibility study, funded by the state, to review the potential opportunities and costs of the campus under city ownership;
- A request that the Board of Regents maintain the buildings and grounds until the transfer is made official;
- A full inspection of the campus and its buildings, also funded by the state;
- Site visits with other entities that may consider the IBSSS campus as a future home’
- Including a representative from the City of Vinton in any future negotiations with the federal government involving AmeriCorps NCCC negotiations;
- Funding from the Board of Regents;
- An “escape clause” should city officials determine that local ownership is not a viable option;
- A work session involving the Vinton City Council and the Iowa Board of Regents to officially express these points.
The council also voted to draft a letter to the Regents to express this decision.
Schwan reminded the council of the activities that have taken place in the past few months as city leaders and a committee of volunteers have worked with the Regents and the UNI Institute of Decision Making to consider future uses of the property if and when it becomes city-owned.
The leaders of the Institute asked Vinton residents to “dream big,” said Scwhan.
“They asked us what we wanted to see,” she said.
At a community forum in April, the participants overwhelmingly said, in a survey, that the campus is very important to the future of Vinton.
Schwan said that 73 percent of respondents ranked its importance as a 5 out of 5, while another 16 percent ranked it as a 4.
At that April Expo, community participants looked at several options for the campus, including economic development, tourism, education, historical displays and recreation.
City leaders have agreed from the beginning that maintaining the AmeriCorps lease at the campus is essential for the city to own the property and assume its maintenance expenses.
“We need to make sure those folks understand we want them in our community and are willing to do flip-flops to keep them here,” Mayor John Watson told the council on Thursday. Watson plans to visit the campus to welcome the new class of FEMA-Corps members on Aug. 18. He has welcome most new NCCC new classes to Vinton during their official first gathering after arrival.
City officials have also been pleased by the results of visits to the AmeriCorps campus by Congressman Rod Blum and other representatives of Iowa’s congressional delegation.
Campus Director Rob Levis said in an April interview with Vinton Today that NCCC loves Vinton, and its campus, and hopes to stay a long time.