At the conclusion of the Marion County Tribune Pella City Candidate Forum, there were unused questions. They were emailed to the candidates. Here are the responses from Calvin Bandstra, candidate for ward 2.
“Blue collar” is a term we don’t hear much, but they remain the backbone of the community. How would you help to provide them a more affordable home in Pella?
“Affordable Housing” is an elusive term, as it means different things to different people. In a growing and expanding community such as Pella, where housing demand escalates price, it often means that the first-time or blue-collar home buyer comes to the realization that home ownership comes in stages. The first house purchase may not be the perfect “dream home”, but it gets a person or a family’s foot in the door in building equity, which after a few years can be used to propel the next purchase of a more ideal home. In terms of Council assistance, I think it is worthwhile to take a look at what other nearby communities have done to promote home ownership. Two that I can think of are Oskaloosa’s Housing Trust Fund which provides down-payment loan assistance to first-time homebuyers, and Newton’s Housing Initiative which provides cash for new construction. If the Council comes to the conclusion that this is a critical issue for Pella’s well-being, then it must be willing to allocate resources for that purpose.
What two things can the council do to promote economic growth?
1) Readily embrace the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) program for new development. A good example of the City doing this right now is with the proposed new Lely project on the southeast side of town.
2) Do a conscious review of ordinances and regulations to see if they do in fact inhibit economic growth. There have been some instances of late where this has been labeled as a real issue, so I think a fresh look at this, with input from Pella’s business community, would be a meaningful exercise. It will either validate what the City has on the books is appropriate, or result in some thought-provoking discussion to make changes.
Will you uphold policy to maintain or enhance Pella’s heritage?
If I answer “Jazeker!”, which is Dutch for “Of Course!”, you will see my own personal interest in preserving Pella’s heritage. However, it is worthwhile to note that Dutch traits are also innovation and advancement, so it can be a balancing act to weigh the sometimes competing goals of development and preservation.
What are your plans for, and views of, the Pella dog park?
I’m a Board Member of the Mahaska County Community Foundation, and a few years ago we provided seed money to establish the new dog park in Oskaloosa. It has been a well-received asset for the dog-owners of that community, and I believe the same would be true for Pella. I would support continued City staff time and resources to investigate the feasibility of a new dog park.
Should the council review the properties owned by the City and look into disposing any of it or transferring it to an organization in town that utilizes it more than the City?
Yes–sometimes property held by the City for years and years becomes something not thought about, when there could be other productive uses for it. But, one important thing to remember–once a property is sold, it is gone forever, so the City needs to really look into the future before making the decision to dispose of real estate.