Wild Rose asks city to build frontage road

Wild Rose president and COO Tom Timmons (right) speaks with the Jefferson city council. Pictured are Larry Teeples (left) and Harry Ahrenholtz.

The Jefferson city council was pitched on a $1.4 million frontage road needed before a truck stop can be built near Wild Rose Casino and Resort.

Tom Timmons, president and chief operating officer of Wild Rose, made a presentation at the council’s Aug. 14 meeting.

He started with numbers. Since Wild Rose Jefferson opened three years ago, 1.5 million people have passed through the doors. They’ve come from all 50 states and 22 different countries.

Wild Rose has given approximately $500,000 each to the city of Jefferson and Greene County; has given Grow Greene County $4.3 million to distribute for various projects; and has paid close to $1.5 million in property taxes.

Those are things voters were told would happen before they approved the gaming referendum in 2013, Timmons said.

He then talked about a truck stop west of the casino, an amenity that’s been talked about since before the casino opened.

Two years ago Bob Drees and Vaughn Bauer purchased three acres adjacent to the casino for a truck stop and convenience store (Parcel 1 on the graphic). It hasn’t been built yet because there’s no frontage road past the casino.

About the road, Timmons said Tuesday that two years ago there were lengthy discussions about the road. “… we talked about different ways of doing it. We got caught up on the drainage and where all that (storm water) was going to go, and nothing happened,” he said. Timmons added that at the time the city’s debt was 60 percent of bonding capacity and the council would not take the city further into debt.

Drees and Bauer are now looking at purchasing the adjacent parcel (Parcel 6) for the project.

Timmons said Wild Rose would build a retention pond near the northwest corner of the casino on space originally designated for RV parking. That would be the casino’s share of the project.

He asked the council to give authority to city engineer Jim Leiding and city staff to begin negotiations with Wild Rose “to figure out how we’re going to get this done. When you have a common goal, it’s amazing what you can get done.”

Timmons said he’d like the city take on as much of the cost of building the road as possible. “I think it should be a public road. How it’s paid for and financed, that’s what the staff needs to okay to go ahead and start talking. Nothing would get done until going back to you folks. You’re the key to it,” Timmons told the council.

He used commercial growth on Adventureland Drive in Altoona near Prairie Meadows as an example of how a new road can impact development “If we want development, we’ve got to have the road,” he said. Developing the two plots, and four others along the proposed road, would add tax base, he said.

Kim Reuter, owner of the five remaining plots, has offered to put the proceeds of the sale of Parcel 5 toward the cost of building the road.

City administrator Mike Palmer told GreeneCountyNewsOnline after the meeting that nothing has changed since discussing the project two years ago. Drainage and cost participation are still issues. He said the city’s debt load is a little less, “but there are other things we need to balance, other projects we’re looking at. The city council will need to set priorities.”

In other business, resident Phyllis Crowder asked during the open forum about a feral cat program. She said she received a letter from Alley Cat Allies saying Jefferson has set a timeline of 18 months for implementing a trap-neuter-return policy for feral cats. She asked who was working on it. Mayor Craig Berry told her chief of police Mark Clouse is working on it. He was not at the meeting.

The council approved a resolution to apply for a $75,000 REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resource for a bioretention cell and walking/bike trail on Lincoln Way from the Milwaukee Road depot east to the municipal cemetery.

The council approved purchasing a greens mower and a sprayer for the municipal golf course.

The council also extended administrator Palmer’s employment agreement for another year at a salary of $97,400.

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