Friday, January 28, 2005

The Inn on Central Park in Mason City, IA

Mason City's Council has delivered on its end of the Park Inn restoration project.Now, it's up to the building owner and project developer, the Mason City Foundation, to step up its efforts.

A majority of council members agreed this week to grant a five-year extension to the Mason City Foundation for restoration of the inn on Central Park, the last standing hotel designed by world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The foundation has spent the past year transitioning from the leadership of Carl Miller to David Vikturek, who has trimmed staff and expenses at the foundation, which also owns and operates The Music Man Square.

At least one council member favored a shorter leash, but the majority agreed to the full five years requested by the foundation.Councilman Jeffrey Marsters said he'll insist on annual or semi-annual reports progress reports.We think the public deserves at least that.

The council has shown its trust in the foundation's ability to get the job done. Now the foundation — which has raised just $1.2 million of the more than $9 million estimated cost of the project — should make public its timeline and, if it hasn't done so already, establish a progressive plan to complete the project. Doing so would perhaps even win over some doubters.

A lot of volunteer effort is going into the project, and that's fine to a point. But it won't be enough.Council members know that, and they want the foundation's steering and fund-raising committees expanded.

Vikturek addressed that issue, suggesting a Chamber of Commerce representative and a Mason City Downtown Association member be added to the steering committee. That's a good start, but a wider representation may be needed. Raising nearly $9 million to finish this essential project will take some intense fund-raising efforts.

There is no question this project must be finished; the historical significance of the building makes it so. Inclusion of the adjacent City National Bank building would seem to be a natural, too, but first things first.The city has given the foundation the five years it wanted. Now, the foundation must step up its efforts, and let citizens know how it plans to do so

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