Waukon City Council approves funding for Housing Readiness Assessment; Ongoing staffing issues may affect open hours schedule at swimming pool

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, June 20 to address a short agenda of items including discussion of a Housing Readiness Assessment and Program Fee Agreement, the Water/Sewer Department temporary summer help hourly wage and Change Order #1 - Storm Water Quality Improvements Project - Contract C.

Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Johnson called the meeting to order with the scheduled absence of Mayor Pat Stone. There was no Public Comment and the meeting moved into Department Reports with Waukon Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub providing an update relating to the swimming pool.

Strub advised that the swimming pool heater recently quit working and that parts for this repair are on order and are expected to be delivered in a couple weeks. Strub explained that pool temperatures have been in the appropriate range with the warm weather.

Strub also discussed staffing issues at the swimming pool with only five lifeguards available for scheduling and, as a result, being open this Saturday is currently in question. Music in the Park was discussed by Strub, which he noted is in its fourth week. Strub advised that summer recreation programs are busy with adult softball and youth baseball and softball scheduled into July.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett advised that the street sweeper has been repaired. Burrett discussed plans for painting downtown crosswalks and parking spots to start next week.

Police Chief Paul Wagner reported that all Police Department employees were part of “Stop the Bleed” training last week, a course teaching how to effectively stop the life-threatening bleeding of an injured person.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker discussed the Saturday, June 11 Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) pre-ride that took place in anticipation of the Allamakee County portion of that event scheduled to take place July 30. Snitker said that WW Homestead Dairy hosted the pre-ride participants during their stop in Waukon June 11.

Snitker updated the council about the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) housing program with one project close to completion and another half complete, with two other contracts approved and likely on schedule to start this summer. Council member Arvid Hatlan noted that he has two garbage containers which he would like to donate for use during RAGBRAI and other future events.

City Manager Gary Boden advised that Tuesday, June 28 a variance hearing by the Board of Adjustment has been scheduled in addition to two rezonings to be heard by the Planning Commission. Boden advised that these two meetings will likely be short without much input being expected. Boden noted that he will be on vacation Friday, July 1 through Tuesday, July 5 but will be present for the July 5 city council meeting.

Hatlan provided the City Council Report by discussing feedback received from several residents relating to dust from parking lot areas. Hatlan mentioned Benjegerdes Machine, Inc. and Waukon Feed Ranch parking areas, specifically. Hatlan noted that Waukon Feed Ranch has treated its parking lot in the past to prevent or lower the amount of dust.

Boden added to his earlier report by discussing a recent conversation with Engineer Sam Ertl of Fehr Graham Engineering. Boden advised that Ertl recommended that the Street Committee meet again with Boden further advising that a meeting should take place in July and August. The council was in agreement for the Street Committee to tentatively meet with Ertl the morning of Monday, July 18 to allow for a report later that day at the city council meeting.

The meeting moved into discussion of Change Order #1 - Storm Water Quality Improvements Project - Contract C. Boden advised that matter is a formality with Snitker further discussing information provided by Engineer Paige Pierce of Fehr Graham Engineering relating to this change order as a result of a $650.70 decrease in costs. These cost reductions are the result of changes relating to fire breaks, a decrease in the size of a meadow grass area and a decrease in the size of a native planting area. The council approved the change order as presented.

Snitker provided an overview of the next matter relating to discussion of the Housing Readiness Assessment and Program Fee Agreement. Snitker noted that she, Boden and Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) recently met with a representative of Iowa State University relating to a potential housing needs assessment. Snitker advised that this housing needs study would cost $5,000 and that a committee would need to be established with four meetings to take place during this process to find out the needs of residents.

Boden added that the survey results and analysis will help market and make a stronger case for investment in the local community and provide quantitative data to support the needs that exist in Waukon. Boden advised that economic development funds are available for this project. The council approved to move forward with the Housing Readiness Assessment and Program Fee Agreement.

The meeting moved into discussion of the Water/Sewer Department Temporary Summer Help Hourly Wage Change to $11.75. Boden discussed the hiring of Brock Hatlan at $10 per hour, with a similar position with Park and Recreation being set at $11.75 per hour. Boden provided a recommendation to change this hourly wage to $11.75 with the council approving that recommendation.

The council held two Closed Sessions prior to adjournment. Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (1)(j) to discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property or reduce the price the governmental body would receive for that property, and Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Section 21.5 (1)(c) to discuss strategy with counsel in matters that are presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent where its disclosure would be likely to prejudice or disadvantage the position of the governmental body in that litigation.