City nears March 1 vote

by Tara Maurer

Simpson College is encouraging students and citizens of Indianola to vote on March 1 to start the development of an Indianola Wellness Facility run by the YMCA.

There needs to be a 60 percent majority for the vote to pass, said Nicolle Whalen, assistant professor of sports science and health education.

Whalen is part of Citizens for Indianola’s Future, whose job is to spread the facts about the YMCA.

“There have been some people who were misinformed because they thought it was going to raise their taxes,” Whalen said.

The YMCA will be paid for with Tax Increment Financing – the project will rely on future property taxes of new businesses in Indianola, such as the Theisens that is set for construction.

“And, the land was given at cost so that’s a significant thing,” Whalen said.

In regard to Simpson students, Director of Athletics John Sirianni sees three main reasons why students should be encouraged to vote: academics, pool use, and the renovation of the present pool to make a two-level fitness center.

Students will be able to intern and use the YMCA for hands-on experience during classes, Sirianni said.

“For us to be able to combine the quality of our academic programs in the sciences and in athletic training with the medical experience they can get there in that situation will really set us apart in an academic scenario,” Sirianni said.

Sirianni also encourages students to imagine how the addition of a two-level fitness center will look on Simpson’s campus.

“Think about it like this: underneath one roof would be 170,000 square feet,” Sirianni said. “On one end will be the student center and the other a health club type atmosphere. That’s pretty impressive.”

The renovation of Simpson’s pool would require fundraising to complete, Sirianni said.

Sophomore SGA member JoAnna Freeland is working to encourage students to vote.

“It’s extremely important for students to vote because they are going to be the difference,” Freeland said. “This wellness center will benefit everyone. Jobs will be created, as well as a place to hang out, work out and have fun.”

President John Byrd believes students will step up and vote.

“Our campus is so committed to public service and to community service and to service in general, ” Byrd said. “I think it’s just part of our DNA to want to participate in these kinds of elections.”

Many groups in Indianola are in support of the YMCA, including Indianola Parks and Recreation, Indianola Community Youth Foundation and Indianola Municipal Facilities, Whalen said.

Concerns have been raised, however, for fitness related businesses in Indianola.

“I think all of the businesses have a role to play in the community,” Byrd said. “They will continue to attract their own clientele who are interested in more specialized kinds of activities.”

Whalen agreed with Byrd, saying that the businesses will need to find their niche.

According to the Indianola Record-Herald, Indianola resident Devon Sadler initiated a petition for the residents of Indianola to vote. Sadler is a part-time Indianola firefighter.

Brian Seymour, Indianola fire chief, was quoted in the Indianola Record-Herald for clarification of the fire department not driving the petition. According to the article, Seymour said that the petition was not department driven.

The Indianola Fire Department declined to comment for this story.