Washington City Council Chambers

Library computers, a roof for the Fairgrounds stage, artificial turf for Ronsick Field and Downtown improvements were some of the projects presented at the latest capital improvement sales tax committee meeting.

The committee continued its weekly look at potential projects that could be funded if voters approve another extension of the half-cent sales tax.

Projects presented Tuesday, Nov. 21, carried a combined cost of more than $3.2 million, bringing the total number for proposed projects to $12,585,200.

The city’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax expires in 2018 and voters will have a chance to vote on an extension in the April municipal election.

If voters agree to extend the tax for another eight years, the city could have between $12.6 million and $15.1 million to spend on capital projects.

Downtown Washington

Bridgette Kelch, Downtown Washington Inc. executive director, led off Tuesday’s presentations with seven projects. Kelch ranked her projects by cost.

The first proposed project was building a downtown Wi-Fi network. Kelch said she had a commitment with Wash PC to work together and the project could cost just $10,000.

Kelch next proposed an electric car charging station. She said there aren’t many in the Midwest and, for just $20,000, the city could put itself at the forefront of a growing market.

Building projects also were suggested. For $50,000 Kelch said the waterworks building could get tuckpointing, window work and a paint job. For $60,000, the two train depots could be spruced up, she said. Both need new roofs and other maintenance issues.

For $75,000 Kelch said the city could purchase new light standards for Downtown. She said as the power lines in the downtown area are buried, light standards are needed.

The burying of utility lines also was a proposed project. Kelch said an estimated $285,000 combined with other funds could help bury more utility lines along Front Street.

Her final project was $250,000 to redo downtown intersections. She said this would likely require funding assistance from grants, but the brick intersections need to be fixed for safety reasons.

The total cost of the seven projects was $750,000.

Library

The Washington Public Library had two proposed projects with two of the smallest price tags. Library director Claire Miller’s first project was a computer replacement.

She said the library has 28 computers. In 2016, the computers were used 19,000 times. Miller said they haven’t been replaced in years and are aging.

Miller proposed $10,000 spread out over the life of the tax to help replace the computers. She said ideally five computers could be replaced a year to keep the computers current.

The other project was security cameras for the library. After an overdose in the library’s bathroom earlier this year, she said the library realized it needed cameras.

Miller said there have been issues with stealing, littering and drinking alcohol, and the cameras could help curb that. She said it would cost an estimated $1,200.

Fair

Brian Gildehaus, 2018 Washington Town and Country Fair chairman, presented three projects for the fairgrounds.

The first project was a roof for the main stage. He said a roof would provide protection for bands during inclement weather and provide a better concert experience. The Fair would no longer have to rent equipment to mount lights and speakers, instead the roof would be able to support those items.

Gildehaus said the roof would allow the stage to be used more frequently. He said the arch concept designed by Washington Engineering would take about 10 months to put in place and cost $400,000.

The second project was a continuation of previous fencing work. Gildehaus said for $100,000 more of the fairgrounds could be fenced in.

The final idea was a 40,000-square-foot multipurpose building. Gildehaus said it would provide additional space for shelter during bad weather, more room for exhibitors and could be rented out by the parks department during non-Fair time.

The building would have public bathrooms and be air conditioned, he said. The projected price tag is $1.6 million, Gildehaus said.

Ronsick Field

The final project presented was from Kent Getsee with the American Legion Post 218 baseball program.

Getsee requested $370,000 for improvements to Ronsick Field — chief among them a new artificial surface playing field.

Getsee said Ronsick Field has been around since 1872 and been used by the Legion baseball teams since 1957. The field was last renovated in 2005.

Since the last renovation, the Legion has footed the bill for a series of improvements. He said the field is known as a “first class” place to play and that helps get tournaments. Tournaments, he said, bring in people to the city and boost the economy.

Since the field was last improved, he said the infield has some serious wear and tear. The field hosted 150 games in five months this past season and Getsee pointed out Busch Stadium only hosts 81 games over a six-month season.

Getsee said a solution would be an artificial playing surface for the infield. He said it would cut down maintenance for the city and Legion, and be able to handle the large number of games. In fact, because the surface can handle rain, he said groups like Washington High School would be able to have more home games.

The turf would cost $310,000. Getsee said the rest of the money would be to redo the bullpens and fix some safety issues.

Next Up

The committee is set to meet again Tuesday, Nov. 28, to review parks department projects. Prior to that, residents will get a chance to review all the projects presented so far, past projects and discuss ideas for new projects at a public forum.

The public forum will be Monday, Nov. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. at city hall. Visitors will have a chance to fill out a survey and talk to city staff.

The survey to suggest projects also can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/5TDTLRB.