Waukon City Council discusses downtown parking

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Tuesday, September 5, following the Labor Day holiday. The Public Hearing for the First Avenue NW and Second Street NW Storm Sewer Improvements Project was opened and closed without written or verbal comment.

During Public Comment, Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) discussed the scheduled tour of the Aveka Nutra Processing facility to take place September 14, inviting the Mayor and City Council to attend.

Under Departmental Reports, Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell discussed recent tours of wastewater treatment plants in preparation for the planning of Waukon's new wastewater treatment facility. Campbell recommended the oxidation ditch wastewater treatment example as being a good fit for Waukon's needs. Campbell discussed the purchase of a replacement pick-up, which will be added to the next meeting agenda.

The Aveka noise and odor concerns were briefly discussed by the Council, with all in agreement to leave this item on the agenda for updates until issues are resolved. The Council discussed that work on the concrete footing for the smokestack extension is the next step, which is likely to begin soon.

The Council moved on to the next agenda item involving Willie Hendrickson at 808 Allamakee Street and Voluntary Annexation. City Clerk Al Lyon indicated that the necessary paperwork is yet to be received by City Attorney Jim Garrett and no action was taken by the Council.

The Aveka Water Treatment Agreement was discussed by Campbell, who indicated that it has been signed by General Manager John Anderson of Aveka. Campbell advised that the new agreement requires copper testing to be done once a month, a decrease from twice a month in the previous agreement, due to no copper results in the testing done in the last year. The treatment agreement with Aveka was approved.

Campbell also discussed the water treatment agreement with WW Homestead Dairy and that no changes have been made from the previous agreement, which the Council approved.

Kuhse discussed the recent visit from representatives of RAGBRAI who expressed that they were impressed with Waukon's efforts and that the event was a success. They have estimated that 40,000 people were in attendance during the RAGBRAI stop in Waukon. Kuhse discussed the results of a survey of RAGBRAI participants with respondents commenting that they enjoyed the theme and beauty of the area. Kuhse discussed the positive financials indicating that the event revenue exceeded $154,000 with expenditures of $122,000 and as a result, $32,000 will be given to several local groups, with local non-profits receiving a refund of their vendor fees and $7,500 being set aside as seed money for future events.

Kuhse discussed the Downtown Plaza Art Project, indicating that two Allamakee County communities, Postville and Waukon, will each be the recipient of $10,000 art project grants. Kuhse discussed the selection of the Downtown Plaza and the search process for artists. The Council approved to support the project.

The Council approved the Resolution Proposing disposition of interest in Real Property, with the sale of Lot 6 of Westside Development to WEDC. This allows WEDC to purchase a lot to make it available to the Allamakee Community School District for the construction of a house as part of the School District's home construction educational program, which will also promote economic activity and property tax revenue. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for September 18 at 7 p.m.

The detailed plans, specifications, notice to bidders and form of contract for the First Avenue NW and Second Street NW Storm Sewer Improvements Projects was approved. Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering discussed the next agenda item awarding the contract for the storm sewer project. TeKippe recommended Skyline Construction as the low bidder at $213,573.03 with only a $250 difference between the bid and the engineer's estimate. The Council approved to award the contract to Skyline Construction. The municipal storm water easement agreements with King of Grace Church at 101 Second Street NW and Adam and Jessica Kurth at 101 First Avenue NW were also individually approved.

The Council moved into discussion of parking in the downtown business area. Gregg Jones, owner of Gregg Jones Muscular Therapy Center on Rossville Road, discussed that the two-hour downtown parking limit on Main Street should be extended to other streets within the downtown business community. Jones discussed that this change would better serve his patients and customers of other businesses on Rossville Road. The Council discussed concerns that long-term parking may shift and have an impact upon businesses on other streets and more research on the matter is necessary.

Dana Fish, co-owner of Goodfellas Bar on West Main Street, discussed concerns that the two-hour parking limit may have a negative impact on Sunday and holiday business when few other businesses are open downtown and parking is not an issue. The Council approved to have Council members Don Steffens and John Lydon, Street Superintendent Keith Burrett and City Manager Dean Hilgerson research the matter and provide their findings to the Council.

Hilgerson discussed the possibility of a sidewalk along Fourth Street SE from East Main to Rossville Road and which side of the street would be more feasible, with an estimated cost of $95,000 to $125,000. The Council discussed funding options and resident Brooke Troendle provided some feedback regarding the proposed project and funding.

The tax abatement request from Harold and Linda Miller of 94 Sixth Avenue SW was approved and will be sent to the County Assessor's Office. The quote from River City Paving of $33,556.38 for street patching in nine locations, a total of 7,822 square feet, was also approved.

The Council moved into the discussion of reserve officer pay during RAGBRAI with Police Chief Phil Young advising that there was a pay discrepancy between the regular reserve officers and the additional reserve officers used during the event. Young explained that in fairness, all the reserve officers involved in covering RAGBRAI should have been at the same hourly wage. The Council approved to pay the two regular reserve officers the same rate as other reserve officers.

The Council discussed the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) sign replacement program involving the replacement of road signage that is bent or faded. The Council approved to participate in the program.

Burrett and the Council discussed the quote received for the repair of the Street Department bucket truck, with Burrett clarifying that half of the expense is from the crack in the bucket. Burrett will research options.

The Upper Explorerland reuse of $9,178.00 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds from the Blake property as a 25% local match to the Northeast Iowa Regional Housing Trust fund program was discussed and approved. The Council discussed the Police and Public Works union contracts and approved to have a committee consisting of Mayor Duane DeWalle, Council member Steffens, Hilgerson and Attorney John Anderson discuss negotiations with representatives from the union.

The Council discussed the West Side Development lots and the current agreement with WEDC. The Council approved changing the agreement to include the remaining lots in the West Side Development.

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