County discusses 10-year lease for lake hall years ago

Staff reporter

Marion County Commissioner Randy Dallke clarified his position Feb. 29, regarding the commission's willingness to lease the north half of the Marion County Lake Hall to individuals for a café.

"Citizens don't understand why the county is leasing a county building," Dallke said. "Cities build spec buildings and lease them out."

County economic development director Teresa Huffman was at the commission meeting to seek direction regarding the negotiation of a lease with Jim and Debra Whitfill.

Huffman reminded the commission that the Whitfills were "putting in a significant investment in the county-owned building" for the café business. She recommended a 10-year lease for the café.

The Whitfills' investment could include insulation which would require Sheetrock being placed over the insulation. At previous commission meetings, the Whitfills had indicated that they planned to purchase the necessary equipment to become licensed by the state to serve and sell food.

Currently an accordion wall separates the two rooms at the hall. At some point, a more permanent wall separation would have to be considered.

Huffman asked the commission to consider having the south half of the lake hall insulated when the Whitfills have the north half completed. Consensus from the commission was to have the entire building insulated with the Whitfills paying for the north half and the county paying for the south.

Dallke said he wanted to clarify that the Whitfills are willing to honor reservations that have been made with lake superintendent Steve Hudson and will receive the rental money for their side of the hall.

Discussion then followed by the commission of the instances when the business owner may not want to rent their side or rented their side and received more money than what the county received for rent on the south end of the hall.

"The Whitfills could make money off the county if they rent their half for $50 for the morning and $50 for the afternoon," Dallke said.

It was pointed out that the Whitfills are paying $50 per day, every day.

"The Whitfills are not under any obligation to rent their half," Huffman said. "If they're paying for every day, they have that right."

Commissioner Dan Holub said he had no objection to the Whitfills keeping the rental money.

The commission also agreed to pay for surveying costs of two areas at the trailer park for five or six cabins and a bunk house. Individual parcels have to be divided from the county-owned property so the Whitfills can be taxed for the personal property.

Huffman suggested that there d be two separate leases — one for the cabins and personal watercraft rentals and one for the café in the lake hall.

She stated these were two separate projects and should be handled separately.

Huffman also suggested the lease allow the county to have first right of refusal should the Whitfills want to sell the cabins. The county also should be able to approve or deny any sub-leasing of the cabins.

It also was determined that a permanent foundation or slab be required for the cabins, not a temporary foundation.

The lease also could require a three percent "take" for the county for all gross sales of the businesses. The revenue from those sales would be used for park and lake improvements.

"I would like for the revenue to help offset lake costs," Holub said.

Commission chairman Bob Hein agreed that the revenue should go to the lake fund.

Huffman commented that a lease at Milford Lake, a federal reservoir, allowed a 25-year lease for the stick-built cabins but she did not want to see the county approve a lease for that length.

Holub said he thought these cabins were going to stick-built. Huffman said they were not; they were going to be pre-fabricated (built off-site).

Huffman said when Milford Lake did a lease with private developers, there was opposition but the businesses have been highly successful.