Council hears presentations on tourism, space needs

The Director of the Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau said tourism is important to the local economy, and the outlook for 2013 is promising.

Shannon Espenscheid, director of the Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau, gave a presentation to the Marshalltown City Council at its Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night.

She showed the council a short video that bolstered her claims to the importance of tourism locally.

“I wanted to bring it back to Marshalltown and Marshall County,” she said. “Some of you are probably saying ‘What are travelers doing in Marshalltown?’ They are at conventions, sporting events, leisure activities.”

Tourism in Marshall County generated just under $80 million in 2011, up 11 percent from 2010, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Marshalltown hosted more than 60 meetings and conventions and more than 50 sporting events in 2011, Espenscheid said. For now, it appears as if the tourism industry will continue grow locally.

“We are off to a great start in 2013, and we look forward to the rest of the year,” she said.

Also on the agenda was a space needs assessment for the Marshalltown Fire and Police Departments. The committee has narrowed its selection to FEH Associates, Inc., out of Des Moines. A memo to the council recommended that it approve a $55,000 space needs study, which does not include up to $6,500 in reimbursable expenses.

Council members Leon Lamer, at-large, and Marla Grabenbauer, third ward, said the study is overdue.

The Housing and Community Development Department also asked that the council approve 18 28e agreements with communities throughout Marshall, Tama and Hardin Counties for its lead hazard control program.

The program has helped remove lead from nearly 500 homes since its inception in 2003, said Michelle Spohnheimer, Housing and Community Development director. This grant would abate another 125 homes with children under 6 years old across the three counties.

Debra Mathias, civil engineer with Stanley Consulting Inc., gave the council an update on the upcoming storm sewer rate structure.

She said the new tier structure is based on storm sewer use and will alleviate the program’s funding problem.

A graphic Mathias presented showed that much of the financial burden would shift from residents to companies and other large institutions that create more runoff into the storm sewer system.