Large new truck plaza eyed near casino

For The Jefferson Herald

A commercial development project initially proposed about two years ago is on the agenda for discussion Tuesday at the Jefferson city council meeting.

Tom Timmons, president of Wild Rose Casino, will address the council concerning a large, multi-million dollar truck plaza proposed for a site immediately west of Wild Rose on the north side of U.S. Highway 30 at the north edge of the city.

Developers of the commercial project are Vaughn and Lori Bauer, of Paton, and Robert Drees, of Carroll, who purchased a three-acre lot from Wild Rose for the truck plaza.

The project hit a snag a couple of years ago over how the accompanying frontage road and drainage for the new facility would be financed.

The question is whether the cost of the road and drainage would be paid by the city, probably through tax increment financing (TIF), or paid by the developers.

Estimated cost of the road and drainage is more than $1 million.

The frontage road would need to be accessed at a point across the road from the north end of Grimmell Road, which lies well to the west of the current Highway 30 entrance to Wild Rose. The Iowa Department of Transportation reportedly will not allow a frontage road entrance any closer to the Wild Rose entrance.

A frontage road to a large truck plaza would need plenty of length in order for large trucks to enter, make use of the location’s services, and then turn around to access the highway once again.

A new frontage road extending from Wild Rose west to the Grimmell Road intersection would allow the land to the west of the proposed truck plaza to be usable for future commercial development.

The city council for years has pegged its general obligation (G.O.) debt budgeting limit at a maximum of 60 percent of its total allowable G.O. debt.

Right now, according to City Administrator Mike Palmer, the Jefferson G.O. debt stands around 55 percent. Another million dollars of G.O. bonds would put the city’s debt over the 60 percent mark, Palmer said.

Some of the debt will be coming off the rolls in the next few years, Palmer added, but a number of other projects that will require bonded debt are also on the city’s project list to be accomplished: road resurfacing, the east entrance to the city over Old Highway 30 and a sidewalk on South Highway 4 to the Greenewood apartments, for example.

Using TIF financing would allow the property taxes from the new truck plaza to help pay down at least a portion of the G.O. bonds over a period of years.

Palmer said the council is in favor of the truck plaza project, but how to finance the road and drainage is the question.

The city would have no objection if the developers found private financing for those improvements, he said.

Timmons hopes his appearance and comments at Tuesday’s council meeting will help to jump-start the project once again.

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