KNOXVILLE — As demolition of the former Knoxville Veterans Administration Campus is set to begin in late May, the Knoxville City Council formalized a joint agreement with the county for an urban renewal area.

An intergovernmental agreement through Iowa Chapter 28E is forthcoming, but Monday's action by the Knoxville City Council continues to move the large project forward.

An urban renewal plan and area is established as part of the tax increment financing process. Marion County is ultimately the entity responsible for that plan, but because the site is located within city limits the council is required to sign off on it.

Knoxville Mayor Brian Hatch also updated the council on the progress of the development. He said the county last week received bids from eight contractors for the demolition of the multiple buildings on the 160-acre campus.

Hatch described the bids as "favorable," but said the county is still reviewing them. The county is expected to approve a bid at an upcoming meeting.

The start of demolition would be around the end of May and could take take up to a calendar year.

Knoxville is hosting a ceremony on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the campus to decommission the campus' chapel, deliver some remarks and offer the public a last look at the campus.

In other action:

— An agreement was approved between the city and Knoxville Economic Development Corporation relating to the former East Elementary School site. KEDC will purchase the property for the purpose of developing ten residential lots on the property.

KEDC is technically purchasing the property for $25,000, but the city will be contributing that amount back to KEDC to develop a park in the area that will be retained by the city. The city will also reimburse KEDC or demolition.

The council also approved a five-year funding agreement with KEDC for $50,000 per year to provide funding certainty to both entities. The funds will be used in further housing development endeavors.

— The council discussed Edwards Park, north of the race track. The park currently is tucked away on Woodland Drive with no parking or amenities on site. The land was donated by the Bob Edwards family in 1979. City officials will get a new estimate for dredging and reshaping the on-site pond, while also reaching out to adjacent property owners to gauge interest in purchasing the land.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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