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The city of Kalona released drawings showing possible uses for the Shiloh church property.
The possibilities are breathtaking.
The drawings, done by RDG Planning and Design, focused on environmentally friendly development, expanded recreational opportunities and a conservation area.
“This is a work in progress, like Chapter 1 of a book,” Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said. “This is a vision that’s been crafted from the previous meetings we’ve had.”
The drawings include a number of areas for nature preservation, including a preserved nature prairie and a woodland preserve with trails.
Drawings also show areas for single-family housing, multi-family housing near the existing pond and row houses.
Despite numerous public meetings and newspaper articles on the subject, misconceptions continue to persist.
Just because plans call for the city to annex the property, it does not mean the city will be developing it. Housing development will be done by Shiloh or developers to whom Shiloh sells the property.
“The city is not developing,” Schlabaugh said. “Annexation does not mean ownership.”
What the city will get from the deal are the existing church buildings, park space roads and infrastructure. Most important, the city will get a huge increase in its property tax rolls once the property is fully developed.
Possible uses for the building were again outlined. The Mid-Prairie Community School District facilities committee has toured the facilities and discussed programs that could be housed there.
Other uses include a daycare facility and emergency housing.
If the deal goes through, the city would take over the water and sewage systems. This poses the biggest risk to the city with potential costs for ongoing operations, maintenance and upgrades if needed. City staff will need to ensure that they have a firm grasp on potential costs.
On the positive side, the 200-plus acres will provide the city with lots of amenities – a amphitheater, walking trails and ponds.
The annexed property, once developed, should greatly increase the property tax rolls, giving the city of Kalona revenue growth to offset the additional expenses.
All residents should familiarize themselves with these plans. The drawings show the potential for this property. Looking at those drawings, it is easy to see the benefits to the city and its residents.
There is still a long way to go before what is shown on the drawings can become a reality. Shiloh may be involved in a lawsuit that will need to be resolved. The city needs to develop a timeline and a budget showing both potential revenues and costs. The timeline will need to have sufficient detail to show that the city will have cash flow to meet additional expenses as they arise.
City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh, the mayor and City Council members deserve congratulations for their continued work on this project. If it is successful, people in future years will talk about the vision that these officials had.