Waukon City Council discusses couple of downtown matters among variety of agenda items; Public hearing for water rate increases scheduled for June 5

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, May 1 to address a full agenda of items, including an update regarding the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®), issues concerning parking on Main Street and Allamakee Street and an expansion at Reelcore.

During Public Comments, Howard Van Ruler of Howards Home Furnishings complimented the City Council and specifically Councilman Dwight Jones for following up with Town & Country Sanitation and helping resolve his concerns. Van Ruler was previously informed that he would need to have recyclables and garbage containers moved to the street for collection, rather than being left in the alley behind his business. Van Ruler indicated that garbage and recycling collection has been accomplished in the alley without any problem.

Under Departmental Reports, Waukon Police Chief Phil Young advised that he has been part of RAGBRAI meetings and planning. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed that the first street core-out project has been done and provided an update on work being done re-seeding and on a retaining wall. Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub discussed that soccer is going on currently with Summer Recreation programs to begin once school is out. Strub advised that ground has been broken for the new concession stand by the soccer field.

Under Regular Business, Lyle Bodensteiner addressed the Council concerning parking on Main Street and Allamakee Street. Bodensteiner indicated that cars have been left parked overnight and all day long on those streets, which has become a nuisance for businesses and the public. Bodensteiner discussed that other communities do not allow overnight parking in their business districts. Young advised that the vehicles being discussed are moved within 24 hours and are not in violation of the current ordinance and that a change in the parking ordinance would be necessary to have these vehicles ticketed or towed. Following some back and forth discussion with the Council, Bodensteiner left the meeting.

The sale of a lot to West Side Auto was discussed and approved by the Council. Reelcore Plant Manager Lenny Bulman provided a brief overview of his company’s expansion plans and discussed some areas of street may need to be designated as “no parking” to better allow semi and truck access. Bulman expressed some concern with a metal drainage culvert that may need replacement and that it may be advisable to replace before concrete work is done. Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering will provide a recommendation.

Tyler and Mandy Halverson, owners of Epic Wear on Main Street in Waukon, were present for the next agenda item involving an awning over City sidewalk in front of their business. The Halversons have requested permission to install an awning that will extend approximately three feet over the sidewalk, on their storefront. The Council discussed the ordinances relating to signage and awnings and were provided a photo of a similar style of awning. The Council approved the installation of the awning.

Tom Kerndt with the Allamakee County ATV/UTV Club discussed signage for ATV trails and provided some signage examples. ATV Club President Chip Lamb and Dennis Blocker were present with Kerndt to discuss several matters relating to County and City ATV ordinances and changes to State law allowing the crossing of state highways. The signage matter was tabled for discussion at a later time.

The tax abatement application by Rodney Bohach for 203 Third Street SW was approved. The Council combined the next two agenda items into a single vote to include variance requests for Michael and Diane Roth at 302 Third Avenue NE and Larry Stott and Wendy Waldron at 104 Second Avenue NE, which were approved.

Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided an update on the planning for Waukon’s July 28 RAGBRAI® overnight stop. Kuhse indicated that updates have been made to the www.ragbraiwaukon.com website and that forms are available online for those who wish to volunteer or to host riders in their yard or home. Kuhse discussed the fundraising that is ongoing with t-shirts and wooden benches for sale. Kuhse further discussed decorating the wooden benches and having them available for seating downtown during RAGBRAI with the owners taking them home following the event.

Kuhse indicated that she and City Attorney Jim Garrett have been working on the City’s RAGBRAI ordinance, but due to illness, Garrett was not able to be in attendance. The Council agreed to add the ordinance to the next meeting’s agenda.

The Council discussed usage of Robey Memorial Library during RAGBRAI and approved the Library Board to make decisions regarding allowing individuals to stay at the Library overnight. Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker provided an update on safety planning for RAGBRAI to include shelters in case of inclement weather. Snitker indicated that he is attending council meetings for communities along the RAGBRAI route and will brief each City Council about specific safety plans prior to the event.

The next two agenda items were tabled by the Council. The ordinance increasing sewer and water taps to $200 and street bonds to $750, and parking along 13th Street NW, First Street SE and First Avenue NE will be addressed at a later time. The Council discussed the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Group water usage and decided, as a show of support for the organization, to approve the continuation of no water bill.

Burrett discussed the street repairs agenda item and advised that next week he will have bids for the cement work and that he will have two estimates for the storm sewer intake by the bus barn for the next meeting. The professional service agreement with Fehr-Graham Engineering for 12th Street NW and Park Place Court was approved.

The Council discussed the West Side Development lots and approved passing interest to WEDC. The Council set June 5 as the hearing date for water rate increases.

As routine accounting measures, the next two agenda items were combined into one vote to include a transfer of $5,500 from the General Fund to the Ambulance Trust Fund and a transfer of $14,370.02 from the Flood Fund to the Hotel/Motel Park Improvements Fund for payback of 2013 flood repairs, which were approved.

The Street Plan was briefly discussed as being necessary for short-term and long-term improvements. Concrete intersections were discussed and the Council approved TeKippe to proceed with preliminary cost estimates for work on First Avenue SW.