Waukon City Council discusses storm sewer, streets during special session

The Waukon City Council met in a special session Monday, March 28 with just three business items on the meeting agenda. That brief agenda, however, took just over an hour and a half to wade through, with an hour of that timeframe centering around discussion about the street situation within the community and the need for a plan.
The meeting’s business began with further discussion about the storm sewer that runs from Rossville Road near the Casey’s location southeast through the large parking lot in that area on to its eventual outsource point just on the other side of Seventh Avenue SE, initial discussion of which began at last Monday’s regular council session, March 21. Areas along the nearly 50-year-old storm sewer - that has been determined to have been privately installed back in 1968 - are beginning to show dips and other signs of failure due to aging, prompting City Street Department employees to investigate further with a short “tour” inside the first 60 or so feet of that storm sewer pipe that involved taking photos that provided further evidence of cracking and collapsing within the corrugated metal storm sewer pipe.
With that storm sewer line traversing across six different privately-owned, mostly commercial properties, it was decided that the next step would be to talk to those property owners to discuss gaining easements so the City could begin the process of replacing the failing storm sewer line. City Councilman Dewey Jones and Mayor Duane DeWalle agreed to begin that conversation with those property owners.
The longest discussion item on the agenda carried the shortest description, “Streets,” with multiple points of conversation and analysis ensuing. That discussion began with Councilman Ben Rausch reiterating his initial idea of needing sufficient data, such as traffic counts, in order to make the most informed decisions in regard to a plan for city streets. In addition to traffic data, Rausch also said a high and low end of the City’s range for property assessment percentages should be established, and from there determination can be made in regard to tying assessments to traffic data to help establish a street repair and maintenance plan that could be more viable and sustainable for the City in the future.
From there, discussion turned to previous consideration of repairing the intersections along Third Avenue SW, with that option being questioned by Councilman Jones as to its feasibility in the grand scheme of the City being able to fund such projects while at the same time addressing the cost of overall major maintenance and repair projects within the City's streets and other infrastructure needs. "It's a nice idea, the City picking up more of the tab by completing smaller portions of these projects as we can, but I just don't see how that changes the fact that there's still not enough money there to complete the overall project without some type of additional help from assessments," Jones said.
Discussion reverted back to the assessment process and the ultimate determination of that process not being a “popular option,” but realistically a “necessary option” in order for the City to be able to afford to complete more major projects.
As the discussion continued, it was determined that there is no possibility of an extensive street improvement project being completed in Waukon this year. With that determination being made, talk turned to what street repairs could be made this year in order to improve the condition of the city streets to at least some degree this year. Input from citizens in attendance at Monday's meeting was taken into consideration as well, as far as being sure that completion of smaller portions of much larger projects was in the best interest of the overall project that needs to be completed or, instead, would run the risk of complicating the overall project in the long run.
Finally, it was determined that Keith Burrett from the City Street Department and City Engineer Lyle TeKippe of Fehr Graham Engineering should tour the city streets to determine what street areas are in most need of repair, with the idea of bringing a priority list of repairs back to the Council’s regular meeting scheduled for Monday, April 4. It was also determined that the Council will continue to work on an overall plan for city streets that will involve prioritizing streets and establishing assessment criteria and other funding sources.
One final item discussed under the Streets agenda listing was approval of crack sealing on several city streets, including on Second Street/Avenue SE from East Main Street to First Street SE, on Second Street NW from West Main Street to Fourth Avenue NW, and on Third Avenue NW from Ninth Street NW to First Street NW. Approval was given to have Kluesner Construction out of Farley perform the specialized application of hot rubberized sealant to aid in preserving the streets at a cost of $11,945.70.
The final agenda item before adjournment was discussion of the vacant Street Superintendent position within the City’s Street Department following the retirement of long-time superintendent Randy Murphy earlier this year. The Council discussed the requirements of the position and agreed to both post the job internally and publish an advertisement for the position in next week’s Standard newspaper and Northeast Iowa Extra shopper.