Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Council OKs loan for Ingalls pavilion

By Evan Belanger, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

A 25,000-square-foot pavilion capable of seating 1,500 people at Decatur’s Ingalls Harbor will be completed in less than a year if all goes according to plan, local officials said.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday for the city to loan up to $2.8 million to fund the project, which was requested by the local Hospitality Association and the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The loan jumpstarts construction efforts with the funding to be repaid during an indefinite time period, through revenues generated by the Hospitality Association’s $2-per-night surcharge on local hotel stays.

“This just means that they don’t have to wait for us to go to a bond market to get started,” Councilman Gary Hammon said.

Work to start on plans

According to Tami Reist, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, officials will begin working on detailed plans for the project Tuesday.

“If everything goes as planned, it should be March of 2011 that we’ll actually have the pavilion,” she said.

To be designed by Godwin and Barnett Architecture, the pavilion is intended to expand public use of the city-owned facility beyond its primary function as a popular site for fishing tournaments.

Its preliminary design features enough space to seat 750 at tables and 1,500 without tables. It also features wooden panels to close off the interior during inclement weather.

To cover the loan immediately, the city is expected to draw from a $4.9 million surplus left from previous fiscal years.

However, the council also approved Monday a related resolution that allows the city to reimburse the debt through a future bond issue if desired.

City finance officials project the room occupancy surcharge will generate about $400,000 annually, with an estimated $161,414 already dedicated to existing Ingalls Harbor debt.

Reist said she is confident the fund can support both debt payments.

With a total projected cost of $2.77 million, the Ingalls Harbor pavilion project is expected to include extensive landscaping, sidewalks, parking lot construction, and electrical work, in addition to the pavilion.

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