Lansing City Council approves Police contract with City of New Albin

by B.J. Tomlinson

Because of Labor Day Monday, September 5, the Lansing City Council met in its regular session Tuesday, September 6.

The Council continued its discussion from past meetings related to the police contract with New Albin. Present at the meeting was Josh Dreps, New Albin City Council and Safety Committee member. Dreps said the New Albin City Council and Safety Committee members were all in favor of the terms in the new contract.

Lansing Council member Don Peters recommended a change in one paragraph of the agreement (Item 2.1, regarding Disputes). He suggested that instead of “disputes being resolved by the Mayors of both towns”, that they should, instead, be resolved by the Safety Committees and Mayors of both towns. The Lansing City Council agreed to the change and will revise the contract verbiage.

Peters also questioned the amount of New Albin’s annual payment, $52,357.00,  which he felt should be higher based on his knowledge of a previous offer of $60,000 from New Albin a few years back. Lansing Mayor Mike Brennan said the figures used in this contract were fair and accurate and were based on a mathematical formula agreed upon by both towns’ safety committees. In addition to the annual payment, New Albin will set aside $1,500 to help purchase a new squad car when needed. After further discussion, the Council agreed to the terms in the new contract.

Val Reinke, Director of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED), invited the Council to the annual countywide tourism meeting October 13 to be held (hopefully) at the new Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center. Reinke said meetings are rotated between towns in the county and this is Lansing’s year to host the event. In addition to dinner and a speaker, the Cloy Kuhse Positive Impact Business Award will be presented to the yet-to-be-announced recipient. She asked the Council to nominate business persons who might be deserving of the award, adding that a change in policy this year allows employees to nominate their employers. Nomination papers can be obtained at the ACED office in Waukon.

Police Chief Ed Stahl said the department has been very busy, reporting that calls have doubled over last year from 600 to 1200.

Ken Ripp, City of Lansing Street Superintendent, reported that all roads that were impassable because of recent weather-related issues have been reopened and the ditches cleaned up. Mayor Brennan said Lansing is eligible for State Disaster funds and that he and Ripp met with Emergency Management and Homeland Security (Iowa-based FEMA) earlier that same day, Tuesday. Ripp has submitted cost estimates for fixing damaged spaces and for future work. Shaw and Valley Streets were high on the list. Brennan reported that Leon Freeman from Iowa Homeland Security intends to submit $10,000-$15,000 in repair expenses for Shaw Street.

A report was given that storms and flooding have created erosion along the banks of Clear Creek near the Red Barn Resort, exposing water/sewer lines. Reportedly, the Creek bed has increased in size from 35 to 75 feet. People Service representative Heath Draeger and the Council discussed funding for repairs and will choose either Homeland Security/FEMA or Federal assistance under the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Brennan explained that only one of the programs can be used and that applying for both would jeopardize a successful outcome.

Lansing City Clerk Katie Becker presented an update from Julie Neebel of iiW Engineering regarding the South Road Bridge project. Becker said the project is scheduled for a February 2017 bid letting and that all property must be acquired by November 11, 2016. She said the Department of Transportation (DOT) has reviewed the preliminary plans and that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a permit for the bridge construction and is not requiring any wetland mitigation. In addition, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) floodplain permit application was sent in, utility coordination is underway, soil borings were conducted and right of way acquisition plats are being prepared.

North Street residents Mike and Annie Gallagher expressed concerns regarding traffic - especially motorcycles - going up Sixth Street to Mt. Hosmer and coming back down. Citing safety issues, the Gallaghers said there were lots of pedestrians and that vehicles “come flying down” and wondered if a speed bump might be in order. They also wondered what street repairs were being planned. Mayor Brennan said the street will be resurfaced to Main Street, revisions made to storm sewer intakes and a retaining wall moved. The Council agreed there were traffic hazards and will discuss possible solutions at a later date.

In other business, the Council reviewed and approved S & S Rentals storing their docks at the City Marina again this year. It was confirmed that the swimming pool is now closed and City workers can proceed with winterization of the facility. The Council also approved a bid from Cahoy Pump Service for $13,699 to replace the pump and motor at the pool well, and approved the Annual Urban Renewal Report.