Commission considers leasing park marina to private company

MOUND CITY – Public Works Director Shaun West asked the Linn County Commissioners to fill an empty position at the Linn County Park.

West told the commissioners at their meeting on Monday, Sept. 20, that since he had left the park, his position had not been filled and that left just two full-time people covering the park and the marina. They cannot take leave or vacation without a third person there to replace them.

Commission Chair Rick James said that he would be more in favor of hiring a part-time person. James said that there are more bills from the park in the winter versus summer.

James commented on the substantial difference between money the park makes in the summer and the winter. Sometimes it feels like it is sucking us dry, he added.

If the park could get by with a part-time worker this winter, then when spring comes and the receipts are coming in I’d be more willing to hire them full-time at that point, said James.

Commissioner Danny McCullough said that the county had a gem in the park, and it needed to be advertised or put on something like Airbnb. People don’t know about and it should be a pretty good income for us.

County Clerk David Lamb said that they needed to realize that the park does bring in money part of the time, and that is a lot different than other departments in the county.

West said that he was looking at a way to get the employees there some time off because they had not been able to take vacations with just the two of them there.

James asked Linn County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower what they could do to generate money. He suggested maybe concerts in the park.

West suggested to wait until an update agreement with Evergy is received by the county. He said once the county knows what Evergy’s plans are, it can proceed with applying for grants.

In a separate interview, County Counselor Gary Thompson said the agreement with Evergy expired at the beginning of this year. He speculated that the new agreement would likely reflect Evergy’s announced plans to begin shuttering the coal-fired power plant over the next decade.

Evergy owns the park land but lets the county manage it.

McCullough brought up Commissioner Jim Johnson’s question about whether the county could sublease the marina out and the county would run the park. McCullough thought that might be a good idea.

However, Thompson said that before the county entered into an agreement with a private company to operate the marina, research on its effect on the tax-exempt status needed to be done.

Thompson said that if the marina operated under a taxable company, it could affect the tax-exempt status of the whole park.

The commission voted to hire a part-time employee.

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