The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

County building survey poo-poos downtown

The Board of Supervisors heard a presentation this morning from Lynn Manternach, a representative of Mindfire Communications, the company that conducted a $16,000 survey to find out what the public wants the county to do with its damaged buildings and where the public wants county offices to be.

Brent Oleson, over at his blog, summarizes the findings nicely: Key findings of the survey indicate that county residents overwhelmingly want a one-stop approach to county services, want those services to be provided in one location if possible, and want convenience in access to those services (location, parking, etc.). Most notably, county residents dismissed the idea that county government buildings or services had to be located in downtown Cedar Rapids.

I liveblogged this morning’s meeting here.

The timeline for a decision on Westdale and other county buildings is still fuzzy. Lu Barron said it would be three phased. The first phase is this survey, talks with the city and schools, and a study of what county employees want out of their offices. The second phase will be further talks with the city and schools, a “look at alternatives” (whatever that means) and further public input. The third phase will be a decision, “somwhere in the spring,” Barron said.

Sandi Fowler of the city was at the meeting, and said she expects a big, joint public input process (complete with foamcore boards and open houses) beginning somewhere in late February or early March. So it’s hard to imagine a decision on Westdale coming out before April. At least we know it’s not likely a buyer will swoop in and take Westdale while the supervisors weigh their options. The owners have been trying to sell it for $18.5 million since March, and haven’t had an offer anywhere near that figure.

By the way, I am trying to encourage others involved in county government — besides Oleson — to begin blogging. Langston seemed interested. Curt Zingula, Ed Mulholland and Dustin Hinrichs all turned me down. Hinrichs because his superiors didn’t like the idea, and Mulholland and Zingula because they think blogging is a distasteful enterprise, and more trouble than it’s worth. (Yep, I just outed you guys.)


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