Council holds public hearings on loan agreement and ordinance change for sidewalk merchandise permits, approves funding for Park & Rec master plan

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Tuesday, September 6 following the closure of Waukon City Hall in observance of the Labor Day holiday on the council’s usual meeting day of Monday, September 5. The council addressed a full agenda of matters including the Public Hearing relating to a proposal to enter into an amended Sewer Revenue Loan and Disbursement Agreement, the review and discussion of the Park Comprehensive Plan and discussion of repairs to signage.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pat Stone. During Public Comment, Waukon resident Tim Welch questioned the council about the Board of Adjustment’s decision to deny a sign permit variance for 108 2nd Street NW, the business address for the new U.S. Cellular location in Waukon. Council member Arvid Hatlan clarified that the variance request has been denied by the Board of Adjustment with the council in agreement with that decision, with this matter included as part of the consent agenda approval at the beginning of the council meeting.

Under Department Reports, Waukon Police Chief Paul Wagner discussed the pedestrian crossing at 3rd Avenue NW/SW and Allamakee Street. Wagner advised that he had received two recent phone calls relating to concerns about this intersection with vehicles not yielding to children walking to school in the morning. He noted that a vehicle count and pedestrian count will take place with continued monitoring to determine safety improvements needed. Wagner also advised that conversations are taking place with Allamakee County Emergency Management and the school district relating to a vulnerability study, part of an initiative by the State of Iowa in improving school safety.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett reported that street patching is finishing up for the summer season and that tree trimming will begin soon as the fall season starts.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper advised that since the last city council meeting, two water main breaks within four days of each other took place just 30 feet apart. Cooper discussed a recent conversation with Bob Campbell, the City’s previous water and sewer superintendent, relating to problem sections of water mains with Cooper advising that replacement of a 100-200 feet section may be advisable.

Cooper also reported that a new pump was installed at the lift station near the Waukon City Park. He also discussed the installation schedule for new water meters throughout the city with completion of that project anticipated within two to three months.

Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update relating to tree maintenance in the City Park. Strub noted that Recreation Program Director Carter Duerkop has begun work during a very busy time with the school year starting. Strub discussed in-town and travel volleyball, flag football and the start of adult kickball.

City Manager Gary Boden invited Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe of Fehr Graham Engineering to provide an update relating to 2022-2023 Street Projects. TeKippe advised that the curb has been poured on the south side of 2nd Avenue NW near the Allamakee County Courthouse. TeKippe also provided a brief overview of additional curb, gutter and resurfacing to be done in that area. Boden and the council also discussed the slope of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sidewalks and concerns raised by pedestrians, with no further action noted at this time.

Stone started his Mayor’s Report by discussing a recent trial run at AJ Steakhouse, which he noted went well in preparation of the restaurant’s upcoming opening. Stone also noted the work and planning of those associated with the Allamakee County Fairgrounds in preparing for and coordinating a recent motorcycle event. Stone requested that the metal sculpture located in the Plaza downtown be added to the next council meeting agenda, noting that the sculpture could be raised. Council member John Lydon advised that he would be researching prices relating to pumps for the swimming pool, with that information to be provided to Strub.

Two public hearings were individually held during the meeting. The first of those was the public hearing on a proposal to enter into an amended Sewer Revenue Loan and Disbursement Agreement ($1,050,000). The second public hearing related to the ordinance changing where a permit for displaying merchandise on sidewalks can be obtained, being able to be issued by City administration. Both public hearings were opened and closed with Deputy City Clerk/Finance Director Lana Snitker indicating that no written or verbal comments have been received in regard to either.

The Resolution taking additional action on a proposal to enter into an amended Sewer Revenue Loan and Disbursement Agreement was then approved.

The council moved into the First Reading of the Ordinance changing where a permit for displaying merchandise on sidewalks can be obtained, to now being able to be issued by City administrative staff. The First Reading of the Ordinance was approved with Boden adding that this matter will allow for these permits to be issued administratively rather than requiring council approval.

The next matter on the agenda was tabled until the next council meeting. This matter relates to the change of Dangerous Buildings enforcement officer from City Mayor to the City Council directing the City Manager for the responsibility of enforcement.

The meeting moved into discussion of the “Welcome to Waukon” signage. Boden and the council discussed storm and wind damage which resulted in the starburst portion of the signage south of town to be knocked down. The council discussed the role of Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Waukon Chamber of Commerce in the maintenance of this signage in the past. The council approved to move forward with repair of the signage with Strub to check on insurance coverage that may cover this repair.

Senior Project Engineer Raine Gardner and Client Services Manager Jim Holz with MSA Professional Services gave a presentation via Zoom web-conferencing relating to their organization’s research, planning, design and funding services. Gardner and Holz discussed specifics relating to a City Park master plan and a comprehensive plan for the entire city to include outdoor spaces, facilities and recreation with goals and projects taking place within three-year, five-year and 10-year stages of this planning.

Research was discussed to involve online surveys (see shaded box at right for additional information about the survey) and public informational meetings to receive feedback from residents to be used in the development of the City Park master plan and comprehensive plan for the entire city. Gardner and Holz advised that MSA will assist in finding grant funding sources to help offset costs for various aspects of the plan to include local, state and federal funding sources.

Boden discussed attending one of the public meetings coordinated by MSA relating to Waverly’s park and comprehensive planning and the scope of that project. Strub discussed trends relating to increasing demand for park shelters, which he indicated are frequently full in the City Park, and additional space potentially being needed for full-size motor homes/campers which often take up two spaces in that area of the City Park, with small pop-up campers now being less common.

Mayor Stone questioned the MSA representatives about their role in finding funding and expressed concerns relating to the cost of their services with some of Waukon’s needs having been informally identified including a dog park, additional shelters in the City Park, a splash pad, bike and walking trails, among other needs. Holz and Gardner discussed MSA’s role in research, public engagement, design and engineering, development of a comprehensive plan, all of which they explained as being steps necessary in qualifying for grant funding with applications and bundling to be performed by their funding team. Following this lengthy discussion, the council approved to move forward with the proposal from MSA Professional Services in the amount of $26,100.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into 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. The meeting agenda indicated that five matters would be addressed in Closed Session.