Waukon City Council takes further action to reduce noise levels from Aveka facility, approves tearing down of house at proposed new police station facility location

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, July 17 to address a variety of matters, including the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan, Aveka noise and smell, and the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®).

Mayor Duane DeWalle called the meeting to order with approval of the current agenda and minutes from the July 3 meeting. The Public Hearing for the 2017 Trenchless Storm Sewer Improvements Project was opened and closed without any written or verbal comments.

Under Departmental Reports, Waukon Police Chief Phil Young discussed ramping up efforts for the Allamakee County Fair and RAGBRAI. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed cement work that needs to be done on Eighth Avenue and the replacement of some non-functioning street light hardware using LED replacements, which will last longer and be more energy efficient. Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that the Little League Baseball and Softball programs finished up last week and that the new concession stand by the high school should be completed next week.

The Council moved into Regular Business with discussion of the Aveka noise and smell agenda item. City Clerk Al Lyon discussed recent noise readings measured at the airport that have decreased 15 decibels. Lyon indicated that Aveka has received FAA approval to raise their smokestack, which may benefit the noise level and smell near the facility. Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell discussed that Aveka’s water treatment agreement is up for renewal in September this year, which may be a time to address some concerns.

Kevin Welsh, a homeowner living 245 feet to the south of the Aveka facility’s smokestack, advised that the noise level has decreased a couple decibels following Aveka’s noise curtain experiment, which is a temporary measure. Welsh also said that recent decibel readings at his front door have included averages in the 64-71 decibel range, with high readings of 76, 79 and 94 decibels, which does not allow Welsh to keep his front door open.

Lyon advised that he had a recent reading of 57 decibels not far from Welsh’s property, but it was also mentioned that Lyon and Welsh are using different types of noise monitoring equipment. Welsh discussed sections of the City Code with the Council that were relevant to nuisance abatement.

Councilman John Lydon offered that some factories are requiring ear protection for prolonged exposure to noise levels above 48 decibels. City Attorney Jim Garrett discussed that beyond the noise level readings, the opinion of a board dedicated to this type of matter may carry more weight with a magistrate regarding nuisance abatement. After some discussion, the Council agreed to draft a letter to Aveka to decrease sound levels to 25 decibels, measured from the front gate of the Allamakee County Fairgrounds.

The Council approved the Proclamation of “Boy Scouts of America Week” to take place September 17-23, 2017. The Council also approved the First Reading of the Ordinance allowing Golf Carts on City Streets with the Second and Third Readings being waived with adoption.

Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering discussed the four bids received for the 2017 Trenchless Storm Sewer Project and provided his recommendation for low bidder, Engineering and Construction Innovations, Inc. of Oakdale, MN at $197,555.00, which was approved by the Council.

The hiring of Dean Hilgerson as City Manager with a start date of August 14 was approved.

The Council moved into discussion of RAGBRAI with Coordinator Ardie Kuhse of Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) providing an update. Kuhse indicated that preparations are going well with volunteer and host homes numbers increasing and that Reel Core’s garbage and recycle receptacles are for sale. Kuhse discussed that VIP passes are for sale for an area near the stage and that she received a very positive report from a recent visit from RAGBRAI representatives and thanked the City Council and all City employees for their work in preparation for RAGBRAI. Kuhse indicated that several television stations have contacted her and will be covering RAGBRAI events in Waukon and conducting interviews.

The Council discussed the Street Department Street Sweeper and purchase options that are available. Burrett discussed the condition of the current street sweeper, which is a piece of equipment that is used daily during much of the year. The Council approved a seven-year purchase agreement for a replacement street sweeper.

The 2016 Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) Street Repairs partial pay estimate for $1,806.14 to Concrete Foundations, Inc. was approved. PCC refers to the rigid layer of roadway concrete that is in contact with traffic. The Fehr-Graham agreement for the storm sewer near Kurth Plumbing and Heating was approved. The agreement with Fehr-Graham Engineering for the 2018 Street Improvement Project was also approved.

The next four agenda items involving routine financial matters were combined into a single vote and approved, including transfers of $12,913.58 from the General Fund to the Storm Sewer Improvement Fund, $1,916.97 from the Library General Fund to the Trust and Agency Library Fund per Resolution No. 3200, $20,000 from TIF to Sports Field Sub Fund, and $154.00 from TIF Fund to the Administrative Costs Sub Fund. The Council discussed several budget matters and approved the distribution of FEMA funds for several repair projects.

The Waukon Police Department facility was discussed, with the Council approving the tear down of the house at the site of the proposed new facility. Burrett suggested that the City has dirt-fill that would work to fill in the basement and reduce costs.

Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker and Regional Planner Michelle Barness with Upper Explorerland conducted a presentation regarding Allamakee County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan with specifics relating to Waukon. The presentation included information regarding man-made and natural hazards that threaten people and property, and the research and ranking system known as the Calculated Priority Risk Index (CPRI) that has been used to rank and evaluate specific threats including hazardous materials, flash floods and infrastructure failure.