Hall County plans to seek information regarding land on the former Grand Island Veterans Home land that surrounds the United Veterans Club.
In two separate votes at its meeting Tuesday morning the board voted 5-0, with Supervisors Karen Bredthauer and Ron Peterson absent, to approve sending requests for information (RFIs) to the state on the former veterans home land and Lake Liberty, which is behind the veterans club.
Mike Ponte, chairman of the United Veterans Club Board of Directors, said the club and the adjacent Hall County Veterans Memorial Park are on county land, but the land to the west, including the club’s parking lot and trash pickup area, is owned by the state.
Two or three years ago, Ponte said, the veterans club discovered the state cannot give the piece of land in question to it as it can only be acquired by a government entity.
“With everything going on, what we are hearing and what was advertised in the paper, that includes our 10.6 acres to the west of the club. If we lose that, we lose our garbage pickup, our delivery pickup and our parking lot,” he said. “We are afraid that with the lease, if someone purchases that property, the state could cancel that lease and we could lose that property. It also includes two ball fields that we allow local baseball (teams) to play on.”
Ponte urged the county board to consider filing an RFI so Hall County can acquire that portion of property and lease it to the veterans club as it currently does with Hall County Veterans Memorial Park. This way, he said, the veterans club can keep everything it has now intact.
He also asked if the county would consider filing an RFI with the state for the body of water behind the former Grand Island Veterans Home property. Jay Vavricek said this body of water is officially named Lake Liberty.
“This (RFI) would give the United Veterans Club independence where it can operate freely without landlord interference,” Vavricek said. “It can operate just as it is right now. The pond (Lake Liberty) may be something that is attractive since it is adjacent to the county ground already. It provides the public an opportunity for public recreation, like with Hall County Park, where you control what occurs there and the activities that actually result there.”
Board Chairwoman Pam Lancaster said since she sits on the committee that reviews the RFIs, she requested Supervisor Gary Quandt serve as the contact person and sign the RFI letter. The board chairman typically serves as the contact person and signs letters on behalf of the board.
Also Tuesday, the Hall County board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Jane Richardson voting no, to approve a motion from Quandt relating to funding for Senior Citizens Industries.
The motion adds $20,000 to the line item established for support, nutrition and programs for Hall County Senior Citizens Industries, for a total of $90,000. Half of the money will be paid to Senior Citizens Industries when the budget is passed and the other half will be paid in the new calendar year. Senior Citizens Industries will also be required to give the board a quarterly report on the money spent.
In opposing the motion, Richardson said she has no issues with Senior Citizens Industries or how it uses its funds. However, since the board essentially voted to give the funds directly to Senior Citizens Industries, rather than Midland Area Agency on Aging, which oversees the former, she wanted the latter to be able to have a voice on the motion.
Richardson made a motion to table the issue for two weeks to allow MAAA Director Casey Muzic to voice her opinion on Quandt’s motion, but failed to get a second on that proposal.
“My point was that MAAA is the overseeing agency of Senior Citizens Industries. Senior Citizens Industries asked the board to simply give them the funds, instead of funneling that $20,000 through MAAA,” Richardson told The Independent after the meeting. “I just felt that if we were going to make that change, since MAAA has already set its budget, that it is a considerate business practice to include them in the communication.”
In other action, the board:
— Heard concerns from residents about water issues on Airport Road and Highway 281.
— Voted 5-0 to approve a contract with CMBA Architects to address fire safety issues at the Hall County Courthouse.
— Voted 5-0 to set the fees for conditional use permits at $100 a year.