Waukon City Council hears variety of updates, approves ordinance changing permitting process for sidewalk merchandise displays

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, September 19 to address a full agenda of matters including discussion of City Hall repair estimates, a Merchandise Display Policy relating to sidewalks and a vehicle purchase for the Park and Recreation Department. Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Johnson called the meeting to order with Mayor Pat Stone attending the meeting via Zoom web-conferencing.

Council member Arvid Hatlan, also attending the meeting via Zoom, and Stone discussed a matter listed on the Consent Agenda relating to the approval of a temporary road blockage on 3rd Avenue NW October 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for an estate sale. Hatlan discussed concerns that this could set a precedent for future estate sale road closures to become commonplace. Stone said the matter was a public safety measure.

With approval of the Consent Agenda and no Public Comment, the meeting moved into Department Reports. Waukon Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update relating to youth sports while also noting adult kickball is underway and that the Wellness Center usage has picked up with the beginning of the school year.

Waukon Police Chief Paul Wagner advised that this week Axon sidearm holsters will begin to be used by officers. He noted that the Axon sidearm holsters have a sensor that automatically activates Axon 3 body cameras within a 100-feet radius when a sidearm is removed from the holster.

Wagner also shared that a meeting took place with the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department, the school districts and other police departments within the county to discuss school safety and response measures. He advised that if Lansing is able to reach the State communication tower placed on the Department of Transportation (DOT) property south of Waukon, the school district can begin using the State frequency to communicate emergencies to law enforcement.

Wagner advised that the Waukon Police Department’s radio upgrade a couple of years ago would allow for a simple reprogram to recognize this frequency. In comparison, Wagner noted that some other agencies may need to purchase new radios for this purpose.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett reported that the painting of pavement markings has wrapped up for the season with street patching to be completed soon. Burrett noted that tree trimming and taking down some trees located within boulevards will be addressed with the fall season.

Hatlan questioned Burrett about street patching that did not take place west of St. Patrick Catholic Church when a blacktop contractor was present. Burrett noted that he consulted Boden, with this work to move forward. Hatlan noted that this was brought up at the August 15 City Council meeting and discussed concerns relating to this project not yet being addressed. Boden advised a miscommunication took place with this work recently being scheduled for completion.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper provided an update relating to sewer jetting and maintenance on the southwest side of town. Cooper noted that the scheduled fall maintenance of motors and gearboxes at the Wastewater Treatment Plant is beginning. He advised that test results are back relating to bio-solids.

Finance Director Lana Snitker discussed recent work relating to certificates of deposit with some funds being transferred to the Luana Savings Bank. She noted that some long-term CDs are also with Luana Savings Bank.

Assistant City Attorney Kevin Stinn provided an update noting that City Attorney Jeff Swartz will be unavailable for a six- to eight-week period following a surgery. Stinn advised that City matters can be addressed to him in addition to Assistant City Attorney Luke Meinholz during Swartz’s absence.

Boden provided the City Manager Report noting a recent conversation with Executive Vice President/General Manager Hollee McCormick of Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative in which McCormick advised that trenching will begin next week at the west end of town traveling toward downtown relating to fiber optic installation. Boden advised that McCormick would like the public to know that there is no grant funding for this second phase of the fiber optic project with grant funding being pursued for the third and fourth phases of the project.

Boden further advised that the City of Waukon may need to front the funds for the clean-up of fire damage on Allamakee Street. Boden and Hatlan also discussed the replacement of sidewalk to be included with street projects next year and funding options.

The meeting moved into the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Buddy Poppy Proclamation with Johnson reading this proclamation aloud. “Whereas: the annual distribution of Buddy Poppies by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has been officially recognized and endorsed by governmental leaders since 1922, and Whereas: VFW Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled veterans and the proceeds of this worthy fundraising campaign are used exclusively for the benefit of disabled and needy veterans and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans, and Whereas: The basic purpose of the annual distribution of Buddy Poppies by the Veterans of Foreign Wars is eloquently reflected in the desire to “Honor the Dead by Helping the Living,” Whereas, I, Kevin Johnson Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Waukon, do hereby urge the citizens of this community to recognize the merits of this cause by contributing generously to its support through your donations for Buddy Poppies on Friday, October 7, 2022 for the distribution of these symbols of appreciation for the sacrifices of our honored dead. I urge all patriotic citizens to wear a Buddy Poppy as mute evidence of our gratitude to the men and women of this country who have risked their lives in defense of the freedoms which we continue to enjoy as American citizens.”
The Public Hearing on Proposing Disposition of Real Property Interest - West Side Development Lot 2 in Lot 2 was opened with City Clerk Sarah Snitker indicating that no written or verbal comments have been received. The Public Hearing was then closed.

The meeting moved into the Resolution Approving and Directing the Conveyance of Interest in Real Property - West Side Development Lot 2 in Lot 2. Boden noted that this is the last lot of the subdivision adjacent to the high school in which students are assisting with home construction. Boden advised that closing documents are yet to be prepared with closing likely to take place in the first half of October. The Resolution was approved by the council.

The council next addressed the Ordinance changing where a permit for displaying merchandise on sidewalks can be obtained to now being done by the City. This change allows permits to be issued by City administration rather than requiring council approval. The Ordinance was approved by the council.

Snitker and the council discussed the proposed Merchandise Display Policy. Stone noted that a three-feet portion of sidewalk is necessary for pedestrians. Snitker will be doing additional research relating to policies in place in other communities relating to merchandise displays being allowed on sidewalks in front of businesses. No action was taken.

Boden discussed two bids received relating to Waukon City Hall repairs involving the replacement of two doors at the north entrance, the concrete pad under the porte cochere (the covered porch-like structure at the north City Hall entrance), replacement of the concrete stairway leading to the parking area behind City Hall, in addition to the replacement of the porte cochere canopy. Following discussion, the council approved to move forward with the bid from Sweeney Builders at $56,272 with Sweeney Builders to oversee a subcontractor to perform the replacement of two doors.

The council moved into discussion of the Final Pay Estimate for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Project. The council approved to wait for the remaining punch list items associated with this project to be completed prior to making this payment.

Discussion took place relating to the metal sculpture located within the downtown Plaza located next to AJ Steakhouse. The council discussed the possibility of raising the sculpture to better allow the public to congregate in this area which is also used by AJ Steakhouse as an outside dining area. Hatlan recommended leaving the sculpture as is with the placement of flower pots to help prevent individuals from bumping into the sculpture. Hatlan further suggested that raising the sculpture may obstruct the streetside view of AJ Steakhouse’s signage on the east outside wall. No official action was taken relating to this discussion item with the council in agreement that the placement of flower pots next to the sculpture is recommended.

Strub and the council discussed a vehicle purchase for the Park and Recreation Department. Strub provided an overview of the pick-up trucks used by that department with two trucks becoming unusable this summer due to mechanical issues, age and the impact of extensive tree clean-up following storm damage. The council approved the purchase of a half-ton two-wheel drive pick-up under the direction of Boden as a used vehicle becomes available for sale.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into a series of closed session discussions, including:

Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (1)(i) to evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and that individual requests a closed session.

Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Chapter 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.

Closed Session (Three): 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.