At their Oct. 11 regular meeting the Gothenburg Board of Education voted to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition for the new Impact Center. On Tuesday, Oct. 19 the Gothenburg City Council also voted to enter into that agreement with GECLC and the school. However, Council President Jeff Kennedy had a few questions for GECLC President Colten Venteicher prior to casting his vote.
Venteicher explained that the MOU outlines the school and the city as co-owners of the Impact Center, which would then be leased to the non-profit organization. The school will provide $900,000 toward capital costs for the center, as approved by the board on Oct. 11. The city is being asked to contribute $1.5 million toward capital costs for the project, with $600,000 of that coming from LB 840 economic development funds. That leaves an amount from the city budget of $900,000 - equal to the school’s contribution.
Kennedy questioned how GECLC arrived at that specific dollar amount for each of the two entities. “We had conversations with the school superintendent and city administrator trying to figure out how much we could realistically and in a fiscally responsible way absorb some of that cost. That’s where we landed on $900,000 for the school and for the city, as well as utilizing those LB 840 funds to help relieve some of that burden from the city and the school,” Venteicher explained. “We looked at these two entities as being co-owners of the property and looked at what we had left over for the capital piece after using the LB 840 and split that down the middle.”
Kennedy also asked City Attorney Mike Bacon for verification that changes addressing some of the council’s concerns could be added or modified in the MOU even after signing it. Bacon assured Kennedy that there is still a lot of paperwork and a long way to go in this process, and those concerns can certainly be addressed.
Community resident Ken Christensen also had a question for Venteicher about the property selected for the site of the Impact Center. “I owned that property for 15 years and it flooded every year that we had a heavy rain, so I wondered if you might have to do some soil stuff there. I know what I went through there,” said Christensen.
Venteicher said GECLC is well aware of those issues and are already working on that.
The council did unanimously vote to approve the MOU. They also approved a change order request for the paving and infrastructure project and a second modification to the redevelopment plan for the 2021 housing project.