Updates provided on variety of current and future projects for City of Waukon

Funding for new Street Department garage/shop part of September 7 public hearing ... A new combination building to be utilized by the City of Waukon Street Department and Park & Recreation Department is one of the projects planned for the next several years within Waukon, according to an update provided by City of Waukon Manager Gary Boden. In addition to its lack of storage space that forces the rental of storage area for the Street Department, the current garage/shop area (pictured above) is also experiencing some foundational and structural deficiencies that have prompted City officials to consider a new building that will serve both the Street Department’s needs and also storage needs for the Park & Recreation Department, with partial funding of the new structure to come from a $2.5 million general obligation bond issue that will seek public input during a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, September 7 at the next regular Waukon City Council meeting. Only $400,000 of that bond issue would be designated for partial funding of the new building project, with the remaining $2.1 million funding street improvement projects. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

With a number of current and future projects in the works for the City of Waukon, City Manager Gary Boden provided an update to The Standard Wednesday, August 25 relating to details of ongoing projects, plans for future projects, and other City-related matters.

Boden discussed the status of the former JCPenney/Tierney building renovation project, which he said continues to move forward and that information from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) should be forthcoming. Boden advised that the statement being waited on relating to the scope of services under the IEDA Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grant program will assist in providing the framework necessary for the final contract, engineering and planning involved within the project. The IEDA Community Catalyst Grant awarded to the City in the amount of $100,000 will be combined with a contribution of $200,000 from Fiesta Vallarta business owners Arturo Barreda and Jose Velarde and a $100,000 contribution from the City of Waukon to cover the cost of the project. Boden noted that IEDA’s delay is likely due to the number of Community Catalyst grants awarded with $2.6 million in total being awarded this year for 26 projects at $100,000 per project.

Boden advised that, in the meantime, estimates and bids are being received relating to improvements and engineering necessary for the structural integrity of the former JCPenney/Tierney building with Barreda and Velarde being eager to move forward with renovations for the building’s transition into a streakhouse restaurant. Boden discussed improvements planned for the building including new doors and windows and that staircases currently inside the structure will remain.

Boden also provided an update relating to the McCabe property, land adjacent to the south edge of Waukon, which has been divided into three distinct parcels, which he indicated includes two parcels with residential possibilities and the third parcel lending itself to commercial use. Boden said that September 15 is the deadline for bids to be received with the owners to make their decision sometime after that date. He added that these three distinct parcels present an opportunity for developers due to their location in relation to Waukon.

Boden advised that with the passing of the $2.5 million general obligation bond issue, some street repaving projects and potentially municipal parking lot repaving could take place, with the Waukon City Council to make those final determinations. Boden noted that some streets have been informally identified for improvement including blocks within the southwest and northwest portions of town with a formal evaluation process being a possibility prior to a decision by the council.

Tuesday, September 7 has been set as the date for the Public Hearing for the $2.5 million general obligation bond which includes $2.1 million designated for street construction and the remaining $400,000 designated as a partial payment - with other funds likely necessary - for the construction of a new Street Department and Park & Recreation Department garage/shop building. Boden said that beyond the blocks committed for resurfacing this year, likely another 35 blocks will be scheduled for resurfacing at a rate of 12 blocks per year. He noted that 10 blocks on the south side of town are being resurfaced right now with seven blocks on the north side being scheduled as part of the current contract with work to begin on the north side after Labor Day.

Boden next discussed the Street Department garage which is being planned for replacement with construction to tentatively begin within four years. He listed concerns relating to the deterioration of the current steel building including a lack of insulation and cracked concrete footings, among other structural issues.

Boden also noted that 7,200 square feet is being rented at the former Northern Engraving facility as storage space for various equipment due to limited space within the existing Street Department garage. He provided a general estimate of $1 million for the new Street Department garage structure, using the Waukon Fire Department building as reference in developing an approximate cost, assuming a structure similar in size would be needed. Boden advised that with the $2.5 Million General Obligation Bond issue, approximately half of the funds for this project will be in place. He added that the location and architecture for the Street Department garage have not been decided and that this structure will also serve as a storage facility for the Park and Recreation Department. Boden made note that the new Street Department garage will be functional and practical and not overdesigned or built beyond the needs of that department.

The tree replacement program was also discussed, with Boden noting that Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub has received 25 tree requests thus far for areas where trees were removed during the State highway project complete a couple years ago.

Boden noted that approval of the contract to build the water and sewer main to the former Bresnahan property in northwest Waukon is scheduled for the Monday, September 20 City Council meeting. He advised that this project is being done in anticipation of the development of this property by the City or a private developer. Boden noted that the previously discussed duplex project at this location may be reintroduced as material and construction costs decrease.

Boden discussed sales tax revenue which is currently required to go to street repair. With a sales tax renewal referendum in 18 months, Boden noted that may need to be modified to allow some sales tax revenue to go towards emergency response vehicles including ambulances and fire trucks and potentially a portion of this funding for the Street Department garage.

Boden said there has been a positive trend in local option sales tax (LOST) revenue with a $100,000 per year increase being seen with some of that increase attributable to internet sales being taxed by the State of Iowa. Boden noted that this increase is taking place at an opportune time with capital equipment and street redevelopment expenses to be addressed.

Boden advised that he has not received any updates relating to the potential siting of a meat processing plant in Waukon. He said that information was submitted to a siting firm over three months ago and that no further response has been provided relating to the progress of that search. Boden added that earlier this year, a siting firm made similar information requests of several communities in multiple states in an effort to evaluate potential locations for a small meat processing plant that would create 120-150 jobs.