To the Editor of Waverly Newspapers and Council Members of the City of Waverly,
I am addressing this letter to both the newspaper and city council members, because it is a letter meant for the public, but I want council members not to be able to say, “I never saw that letter.”
As an active member of the Champions Ridge Governing Committee for the last 5½ years, I have a sincere desire to see the Champions Ridge project through to completion. There have been many obstacles to this project’s success to date, which is interesting, because the project concept is sound. The research done a decade ago (post-2008 flood) to ascertain the needs of the community, the ball groups and the county fair, produced the Champions Ridge concept.
This past weekend, celebrating Independence Day with friends from Cedar Rapids, they shared how excited they were about their new 18-ball diamond complex near Marion. They went on to exclaim what an economic boom this facility would be for that city. They are anticipating the development of hotels, restaurants, etc. to accommodate all the activity this new complex will bring to their area. I am left to “eye roll” about the short-sightedness of those in and near Waverly (and others within Bremer County) with respect to their resistance to the Champions Ridge project.
At the Monday, July 1 meeting, the Waverly City Council posed the idea of setting up a commission to study the community needs again. I am not in favor of turning back the clock 10 years to redo all analysis that was completed a decade ago. I don’t think the community needs have changed with respect to what is needed. The leadership has changed. They are less informed about the origins and evolution of the project. But that doesn’t mean we have to go back to square one and start over to get them up to speed.
I would like to suggest that before a new commission is developed that studies “all the alternatives” again, that two or three study sessions should be held with the Waverly City Council and other interested parties. This would be in response to more than one Waverly City Council member expressing at the July 1 meeting that they “simply don’t have enough information to make a good decision regarding the project.”
The information that has been developed and exists surrounding this project could be digested in as much detail as the council needs in order to understand the importance of not turning their back on the project at a point where we are within a stone’s throw of breaking ground. Topics to be covered could include the following:
· Walk through the comprehensive business plan that was included in the Jan. 21 City of Waverly Council meeting packet.
· Review Waverly Softball Association and Bremer County Fair Association financial information with respect to the local bankers’ “nod” to work with both organizations to purchase the ground from the City of Waverly.
· Invite the engineers in who have developed the construction documents for Champions Ridge. They will entertain any detailed questions about the site development and considerations they have made along the way.
· Coordinate with the Waverly Economic Development group to understand how Champions Ridge supports the current project to develop a “brand image” of Waverly. Champions Ridge precedes this branding project, however, ironically supports the desire to create a certain “image” for the city.
· Review number of donors, number of gifts to date and outstanding pledges.
· Review timeline and plan for approaching the Enhance Iowa process for a grant.
· Address any other detailed questions the Waverly City Council has which they “simply don’t understand” to date.
After this work is completed, then, the City Council can decide if it is necessary to spend more taxpayer money on analysis of an issue already fully vetted, or, if it is time to get on board and remove the one remaining obstacle the project has – the support of one of the primary government agencies which stands ready to benefit from the economic and quality of life improvements Champions Ridge is sure to bring to the City of Waverly and Bremer County.
I am willing to work with Waverly city administration (as would be the rest of the Champions Ridge Governing Committee) to set up these study sessions and determine the agenda to bring the sitting City Council up-to-speed on the details and benefits of Champions Ridge.
Champions Ridge Governing Committee
PS: The Champions Ridge Governing Committee has approached the City of Waverly about a purchase option on the remaining designated property. The mayor uttering “Champions Ridge is no more,” is not a qualified motion to not sell the property to the Waverly Softball Association. For that reason, “Champion Ridge still is.”