G.I. to Try For Grant to Fund Parks & Rec Projects - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

G.I. to Try For Grant to Fund Parks & Rec Projects

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More the a million dollars in funding is up for grabs and Grand Island hopes to be awarded some of it.

The G.I. City Council voted unanimously to submit a pre–application to the state Department of Economic Development, due Friday. The $1.125 million is available through the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund.

G.I.'s Finance and Parks and Recreation departments pinpointed two projects they think have the best chance of getting dollars.

Upgrades, including the additions of new baseball/softball and soccer fields to the Veterans Athletic Field Complex, would cost $1.8 million.

Renovations, with a new children's wet play area, for Island Oasis would come in at $1.5 million.

"We have the designs and we've just basically been sitting on them until we had a chance to get them funded, so this is an opportunity to maybe make that happen," said Todd McCoy, Parks and Recreation director.

The city would have to match the dollars awarded, with their share coming to just over $500,000.

There would also be added operating costs.

Council members had mixed reaction to the price tag during Tuesday's meeting.

"We're potentially adding another $50,000 in costs to the water park, which is already now losing money and $75,000 to another park that is losing money. These are things that are really, I think, harming the Parks and Rec budget," said council member Peg Gilbert.

McCoy said admission prices at Island Oasis could recoup some of those costs.

But, council member Mitch Nickerson said subsidizing quality of life projects is to be expected.

"When I take a look at the potential to double our capital dollars on a project by simply submitting some papers, it's a pretty good return on our investment, I think," he said.

Finance Director Jaye Monter told the council that the city dollars would come from the 2015 budget, although it's not yet clear from where.

The city will know by March 14 whether or not they've been picked to fill out the full application on one of these projects.

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