Published for Region 6 Members, Partners & Friends.
Region 6 Progress Report
See what Region 6 has been up to in 2022. Region 6 serves as a partner to members in Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek, and Tama Counties by providing an array of services to our communities. There are some great projects that have happened in 2022. We hope to keep having a meaningful impact for our communities in 2023 and beyond.
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Helping Create Quality & Affordable Upper Story Rental Apartments
It has been a very busy year helping Toledo, Eldora, Marshalltown, and Grinnell access funding to improve downtown upper story rental housing units. Four of the five funding applications that we submitted have been funded. Funding for the last remaining project in Toledo is uncommitted. The total budget of all of these projects is $4.95 million. The grant share of that is $2,656,000. 
The City of Eldora requested funding to help restore a vacant building on the southwest corner of the courthouse square. This building was in very poor condition with a failing exterior wall and serious roof water infiltration. The project received a CDBG Covid grant to develop two apartments. The project budget is $470,000 and the grant share is about $376,000. 
The City of Toledo has a blighted downtown area. There are several large, vacant buildings around the downtown area. The community also faces a large workforce housing need with the Iowa Premium beef processing facility. The City and Toledo Community Development Inc. are active with efforts to improve two buildings that are directly west of the Wieting Theatre. The funded corner building includes $780,000 to develop three apartments. The grant share is $300,000.
The City of Marshalltown is also completing multiple projects to provide affordable quality rental housing in vacant upper story spaces. One project includes transforming the upper level of the Willards building into 5 rental units. This project budget is $1 million, and the grant share of that is $540,000. 
The City of Grinnell received a special $1 million American Rescue Plan Pilot Rehabilitation Grant to improve six homes near the downtown and $850,000 to improve the downtown Beyer Building. This building is in very poor condition. Two exterior walls, the floor, and part of the ceiling need to be rebuilt or structurally reinforced. The project budget for seven second floor apartments is $1.7 million. 
With many of these projects, Region 6 staff quickly mobilized to help the local communities access special one-time available funds. Some limited regular program funds are available for upper story housing projects. These are complicated and challenging projects, but the impact is long-lasting. Our experience will help develop future regional projects. 
Helping Marshall & Tama Counties Access Special CDBG Disaster Funds for Housing
Only Marshall and Tama Counties were eligible for special CDBG Derecho disaster grant funds. Late calendar 2022 was an incredibly busy time for our office as we worked on six different applications. Four of the six applications were funded. The state simply ran out of funding for the remaining two projects. The total grant award on these is $4.59 million. The total estimated construction cost is $9.4 million. The projects will add 30 new quality and affordable rental units, 12 new townhomes, and 2 new single family homes.  
The City of Marshalltown submitted five applications for the CDBG Derecho funds. Region 6 staff completed four of the five applications. Three of these four projects were funded. One project will create 30 new quality and affordable rental units. The project budget is about $5.6 million, and the grant share is $2.3 million. The other two funded projects include six townhouse at two different sites across Marshalltown. Each site has a $1.54 million budget and the grant share is about $960,000. Each unit is estimated to be sold for the low $100,000s. An out of town developer, Huegerich Construction, submitted these applications with our help.
The City of State Center owns two lots on the northwest part of the community near the West Marshall High School. They worked with a local home builder to submit an application to build two new 1,200 SF homes with double garages. The project budget is $626,000 and the grant share is $320,000. The homes are estimated to sell for the low to mid $100s. 
Helping Regional Communities Improve Water & Sewer Services
Many regional communities have aging critical infrastructure that need improvements. Some of these projects also have DNR compliance problems. Many of these projects qualify for grant funding. There is a process to apply for this funding. Region 6 staff has experience with these funding sources and processes. 
The City of State Center had an old water treatment system. The City desired to replace the water treatment system and add softening. The project application construction budget is $1.6 million. The grant share of this is $500,000. 
The City of Ackley wastewater treatment system is not in compliance with new IDNR ammonia and disinfection standards. The project construction budget to comply with the new standards is about $2.0 million. The grant share of this is $500,000. 
For roughly 10 years, the City of Albion has had only one well. A second water source is needed for redundancy. The City finally found a second source of ground water in the area. Shortly after that well was mobilized, the first well start failing. So the city drilled a new well near that old failing well. The project budget for these activities totaled about $500,000. The grant share of that is about $240,000. 
The City of Grinnell has an old wastewater collection system that allows too much ground water and grey water to enter the system. We assisted the City to access roughly $400,000 of grant funding for an approximately $800,000 wastewater collection lining project. This project was completed in a low-income neighborhood in the southeast part of the city. 
The City of Garwin had problems with adequate water pressure, discoloration, and system controls. The city had about a $700,000 construction budget to improve the system. The final stages of this project were done in 2022. We helped them access about a $300,000 grant for the project. 
Assisted Communities Access Special Covid-19 Relief Funds
There were many special Covid-19 relief programs offered in 2022. Not all applications were successful for funding. The projects that were underway in 2022 include: 
City of Iowa Falls Daycare Assistance Project: Provide sign on bonus, and financial help for additional staff. About a $120,000 budget. 
City of Ackley Downtown Façade Improvement Project: Provide about $100,000 of grant funding to improve one downtown blighted façade.
City of Marshalltown Elk’s Park Improvement Project: About a $100,000 project to improve this low income neighborhood park. The grant share was about $66,000.
City of Marshalltown Emergency Food Box Project: About a $60,000 project to purchase new refrigerators, freezers, backup power, and minor supplies for the non-profit food assistance program. The grant was about $50,000.
City of Iowa Falls Albright’s Bluff Façade Improvement Project: $150,000 of grant funding is secured for this $163,000 improvement budget. At this time, the project cannot be completed by the 5/31/23 completion requirement, so it appears unlikely to be completed. This project would be a nice improvement to a real asset for the community. 
Funding for New Hubbard Swimming Pool & Water Line Extension for Business Expansion 
J & T Truck & Trailer Repair had outgrown their facility on the east side of Hubbard. They were looking at a large new building project on the west side of Hubbard but needed a new water line for the lot. We worked with the City and J & T Trucking to understand the benefit of tax increment financing (TIF). All recognized the benefit of the tax tool for the project, so we helped the city develop the urban renewal plan which governs the TIF program.
As part of the TIF discussion, we found out that the City is very interested in replacing the old Hubbard swimming pool. The pool was closed at the end of the 2019 season. The pool was structurally unsound, leaked too much water, and the mechanical systems failed. The CEO of J & T Truck & Trailer Repair was on the Hubbard pool committee so part of the Hubbard development agreement included a future set aside of TIF funds from the expansion project to help replace the pool. 
After a large successful fundraising campaign and securing future TIF funds and City funds, there was still a funding gap to complete the new swimming pool project. We helped the City complete the application process for $500,000 in Enhance Iowa funds (formerly Community Attraction and Tourism – CAT). The new pool and bathhouse is being constructed now, and will hopefully be open in early summer 2023. 
Helping Grinnell & Marshalltown Improve Downtown Building Facades
The City of Grinnell largely finished up Phase 2 of their downtown revitalization project in 2022. In total, the project had a total budget of $1.2 million, with $500,000 of that amount coming from grant funding. There were a total of 10 buildings that were improved with this funding. Improvements focused restoring windows, doors, brick work, and storefronts. Several buildings were truly transformed as a result of this project. 
The City of Marshalltown accepted bids for their Phase 1 of a $1.3 million downtown revitalization project in 2022. The project bids substantially exceeded the project budget. Some of the construction values were at infeasible levels. This project will be bid out again in early 2023. The grant share of this project is $500,000. The city, property owners, and other sources will provide about $830,000 of funding. We all hope that some of the improvements will be completed in late 2023. 
5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Efforts in Tama Toledo
The cities of Tama and Toledo have been jointly awarded $30,000 in grant funding from the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! program. 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices provides communities resources to develop projects that create healthier environments where children live, learn, and play. The end goal of the program is to increase physical activity and healthy eating habits among youth and their families.
A local steering committee worked together to develop 17 total projects that will be implemented by the end of June 2023. These projects include:
Active Games for Youth Programming – Tama Public Library
Open Gym on Saturday Mornings During the Winter – STC Recreation
“Get Active” Backpacks – Toledo Public Library
Crossnets – STC Elementary School
Four Soccer Goals – STC Elementary School
Trailhead Signage & Mileage Markers at South Tama Rec Trail – City of Tama, City of Toledo
Four Soccer Goals to Create Two Small-Sided Soccer Fields at Oak Hill Park – City of Tama
Scholarships for Youth to Access REC Programming – STC Recreation
Equipment for Youth to Access REC Programming – STC Recreation
Active Play Equipment for Summer Day Camps & General Use – ISU Extension
New Two-Bay Swing Set at Toledo Heights Park – City of Toledo
GaGa Ball Pit – STC Elementary School
GaGa Ball Pit at 3rd Street Park – City of Tama
School Garden – STC Elementary School
Gardening Materials for Harvesting, Taste Testing, & Education Programing – ISU Extension
Heart Rate Monitors for Physical Education Classes – STC Middle School
Two Benches on South Tama Rec Trail – City of Tama, City of Toledo
Peoplerides Seeks Long-Term Funding Options for Regional Transit Services
Peoplerides provided about 40,000 rides in FY 22 (6/30/22 end date). Peoplerides has been dependent upon special Covid-19 funds to balance the budget since FY 2020. After the special pandemic funding runs out the system will have a $150,000-200,000 operating deficit. This is about 15% of the operating cost.
peoplerides marshalltown
Over the last year we have worked with the Region 6 Board of Directors and local groups to discuss methods of funding the regional transit system. Today, the regional transit system provides the following basic services: 1) Affordable and attractive rate rides in Iowa Falls, Grinnell, and Marshalltown; 2) Medicaid rides for disabled and medical appointments anywhere; and 3) A few higher expensive rides at $2.79/mile for people that need our service. The City of Iowa Falls, Marshalltown, and Grinnell will be providing increased funding for local services.
There is no local funding for rides outside of Iowa Falls, Grinnell, and Marshalltown. This is why these are offered at $2.79/mile. Here are a few example rates for round trip rides:
Eldora to Iowa Falls: $97
State Center to Marshalltown: $84
Marshalltown to Ames: $232
Tama to Cedar Rapids: $287
Gladbrook to Marshalltown: $108
Montezuma to Grinnell: $116
Grinnell to Iowa City: $375
Many of the other 15 regional public transit systems across the state have found local funding methods to increase local transit services. Peoplerides ridership by county is the lowest for any regional transit system. The ridership is about 50% of the state average by number of counties served. Our ridership is 70% lower than the next lowest system by the number of counties served.
The highest performers (Cedar Rapids, Atlantic regions) have nearly four times more ridership. Regional systems in Ft Dodge and Mason City have two to three times more ridership by county than Peoplerides. More ridership means that there are more opportunities to bring the cost per ride down, more affordable transportation options, more opportunities for disabled and elderly to get out of the house, more employment options for those that do not drive, and in some cases some workforce transportation shuttles. Region 6 staff continues to work on methods to increase ridership and funding options. 
Work Continues to Extend Iowa River’s Edge Trail
Hardin County completed a 4.4 mile segment of the Iowa River’s Edge Trail from southwest Steamboat Rock to Eldora. The cost of this construction work is $1,817,000. State and Federal transportation grants covered $1,439,000 and local funding sources total about $378,000. There were four different state and federal trail grants on this project.
This project will also extend the Iowa River’s Edge Trail another 0.60 miles. This segment was completed from County Highway S56 at Steamboat Rock across the Iowa River.
These newly completed Iowa River’s Edge Trail segments connect to the 4.80 mile Pine Lake State Park trail that runs from Steamboat Rock to the southeast edge of Eldora.
The City of Eldora is well underway to connect the Iowa River’s Edge Trail together with the Pine Lake State Park Trail system – about a 1.40 mile gap. When completed, this would make about an 11-mile loop. For this connector piece, the City of Eldora has secured a $397,000 State grant.
The City of Marshalltown continues to work on improving some challenging segments of the trail. Replacing bridges #2 to 5 is the next activity on the trail. The latest challenge is obtaining construction easement to access these remote bridges. We have currently allocated $797,000 of Region 6 Transportation Alternative Program funds and about $280,000 of State Rec Trail funds are available for this project.
Improving Existing Housing Conditions
The City of Grinnell was recently awarded a $1 million Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Pilot Program grant to improve the Beyer Building (upper story housing) and at least 6 owner occupied homes near the downtown. This funding is from the State of Iowa American Rescue Plan funding. This project also had $449,000 from the City of Grinnell, $100,000 from the Region 6 Housing Trust Fund, and $357,000 from the Beyer Building developer.
The City of Montezuma was awarded the last round of owner-occupied housing improvement CDBG projects. This project will improve at least 6 owner occupied homes across the city. The CDBG award was $214,000 and the City of Montezuma will provide $15,000.
The Region 6 Housing Trust Fund in 2022 spent about $392,000 to improve regional affordable housing. The assisted projects included renovating parts of the Montezuma Sunnyview Square USDA Rural Development rent-subsidized apartments. We provided funding to Marshalltown Lofts subsidized rental apartments to help the city recover from tornado damages. Three owner-occupied homes were improved in Tama County and four in Hardin County. These homes all had urgent housing repairs completed.
Our goal is to help the homeowners and communities retain these affordable homes before they are lost due to water penetration. We continue to take applications from homeowners on urgent housing repairs. Very low income households are a funding priority, and all funds have to benefit low and moderate income households. 
Code Updates Result in Better Developments & Cleaner Communities
Every community needs proper and well thought-out development codes. The code should consider new buildings, remodeled buildings, and existing structures. All of these items can have more than a 100-year impact on the feel and function of communities.
It has been a wild 24 months with many new funding applications due to the Covid 19 pandemic. These development or redevelopment code review and updates have fit in around these other projects. The high demand of other unique one-time projects has delayed some of these efforts.
These projects specifically include a detailed review of the Zoning Ordinance and map. Some of the smaller communities need a full city code review and update. We also help out with special rezoning code compliance issues. We have a wide array of resources to help out.
Communities that we have worked with on this topic include Traer, Alden, Le Grand, and Elberon. We feel strongly that every community should look at these issues, but we can only handle a few projects annually with our current staff and other projects.
Improving Regional Roads
Region 6 staff annually works with Cities and Counties to program $2.5 to $3.1 million of federal transportation funds on eligible projects. In cities with populations less than 5,000 people, federal rules state that only farm to market extension projects are eligible. Cities over 5,000 people have additional roads that qualify, according to federal rules.
In 2022, we programmed $2.6 million to improve 11.39 miles of roads across the region. The projects were in Ackley, part of E63 in southwest Marshall County, part of T47 in northwest Tama County. We have only one project in 2023 in Alden - $198,000.
We annually take applications for funding. Transportation funds will be available in years 2024 through 2026 this spring. If you have a road that needs improving, please let us know and we will let you know if it is eligible. If it is eligible, we work with you on steps to access this funding. 
Learn more about Region 6 and how we can assist you.
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