What is really in the best interest for the Fulton taxpayers?

The Fulton City Council will be making a decision Monday, June 25, about the destiny of the Drives Building, a historic building situated on a strategic site overlooking the Mississippi River. Their choice is between demolition leaving an empty lot, and the renovation of the structurally sound building into a functional community center and an events/conference center. The city no longer has a community center. The latter choice is an asset that will benefit all ages in the community, enhance current businesses, and be a magnet for visitors/tourists into our community.

Let’s look at the numbers

The Drives Historic Building Committee has always been committed to what is in the best interest for the taxpayer and remains convinced their proposal exemplifies that fact. Funding has been secured for the renovation by the DHB committee: 1) $160,000 in grant money (funds already in the city bank account) which must be used for the renovation or be returned to the grantor; and 2) $200,000 in pledges from local donors that will not be collected.

Add the demolition cost of $160,000, the lowest bid submitted for demolition, to the funding sources and that equals a $520,000 loss to the taxpayer. The result of that loss of over half million dollars is an empty lot with no tangible benefit for the citizens of Fulton. From an economic development view, this option results in potential loss of revenue for current and potential Fulton businesses. From a cultural view it permanently destroys a historic landmark and eliminates the possibility of a community gathering place beside the Mississippi River.

(An option, presented by the mayor and city administrator to the City Council, is a 4,000-square-foot metal building with an estimated cost of $633,000 plus the demotion cost of $160,000. It would also mean the loss of the $360,000 mentioned above. The pledges and grant money are designated for the renovation of the existing Drives Historic building, not a metal shell. No time line or funding source was provided with this option).

So what is the best decision for the Fulton taxpayers? The Council’s decision should be fairly clear cut: to enhance the benefit already gifted to the city in 2010 by Drives and support the Committee’s practical proposal to embody their belief in the future of Fulton.

Alderwomen Barbara Mask and Sue Van Kampen, Jeff Den Besten, Charles Dykstra, Richard Farwell and Jane Orman Luker,

Drives Historic BuildingCommittee members