Waukon City Council advised that Allamakee Street fire clean-up could begin this Thursday; Northbound lane to be detoured during clean-up

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, April 17 to address a full agenda of matters including the Resolution relating to LOST Legislation/Senate File 550, the Public Hearing on the Budget for Fiscal-Year Ending June 30, 2024, and discussion of the CDBG Upper Story Housing Grant Program.

Mayor Pat Stone called the meeting to order, with the meeting then moving into Department Reports with Street Superintendent Keith Burrett providing an update. Burrett discussed ongoing projects including tree trimming and removal as necessary. He noted some storm sewer intakes that may require replacement or repair. Burrett added that the water retention basin will be burned in the near future as part of regular maintenance.

Waukon Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that the City Park crew is back for the season. Strub noted that weather conditions and temperatures are delaying the water being turned on and the opening of the public restrooms into next week within the City Park. He noted that the restroom by the soccer field has been opened with the first soccer games to take place this weekend. Strub noted that over 320 youth from throughout the county have registered for soccer and that the Summer Rec sign-up is taking place next Wednesday.

Strub also noted that 14 lifeguards have been hired, which is two more than last year, with six of this group being new. The swimming pool is scheduled to open the day after the school year ends. Strub said that MSA Professional Services will be providing a rough draft of its comprehensive plan for the Park Board to review. MSA Professional Services has been contracted to provide comprehensive planning relating to the City Park, recreation programming, trail system and facilities needs in Waukon.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper updated the council about a property owner that will have the cost of a curb box replacement assessed to their property taxes if the City is required to handle this replacement or repair. Cooper noted that hydrants were flushed last week. He discussed a potential work schedule change for Water and Sewer Department employees during the summer allowing for four nine-hour days and Friday being a short day ending at 11 a.m. City Attorney Jeff Swartz recommended adding this policy matter to the next council meeting agenda.

Police Chief Paul Wagner advised that the storm siren at the airport remains non-functional and discussed this repair. He provided a map illustrating the radius covered by each storm siren within Waukon. Council member Steve Wiedner provided a recommendation that the top of the Wellness Center may be an ideal location for a siren due to its proximity to the school.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker updated the council about a request to reserve a park shelter for selling products, much like a farmers market. Snitker noted that Assistant City Attorney Luke Meinholz advised that a peddler’s application would be necessary and hours of operation for sales would be Mondays 3:30-5:30 p.m. from June to the end of October. Snitker explained that some audio/video system repairs have taken place allowing for the video broadcast of council meetings via Zoom web-conferencing again, with audio only being available for some time.

City Manager Gary Boden provided an overview of two recent conferences that he attended in Ames relating to rural housing development and retail development. Boden discussed recommendations from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to increase the likelihood of grant application approvals.

Engineer Sam Ertl with Fehr Graham Engineering discussed that several temporary easements are still being pursued for the 4th Street and 8th Avenue NW sidewalk project. Ertl discussed work performed along 8th Avenue to 2nd Avenue NW by Alliant Energy and that he can follow up with contacts relating to any touch-up that should be addressed. Ertl also provided a brief update relating to the 1st Street/1st Avenue NW storm sewer project, among other matters.

Council member Kevin Johnson recognized the efforts of First Presbyterian Church in organizing the recent Easter egg hunt and the Christmas parade late last year. Johnson noted that it is very positive to have churches involved and supportive of community events that are important to the public and especially children.

Mayor Stone discussed some changes to the structure of the council meeting agenda with Public Comment taking place after Departmental Reports and again after approval of the consent agenda, allowing opportunities for the public to respond to information presented or discussed during earlier portions of the meeting.

There was no Public Comment during that initial newly scheduled time, with the meeting moving into the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Upper Story Housing Program agenda item. Snitker advised that $550,000 could be available through this program for the rehabilitation of housing space vacant for five years above a business location.

Snitker noted that Justin Sweeney had inquired about the program with six units above a property potentially being an option for this program. Snitker discussed other requirements while noting that these units would need to be rented to low to moderate income families. She advised that the City would need to apply on behalf of the building owner, with the City not having any financial obligations relating to this application. The council approved to move forward with the application process.

Strub addressed the next matter relating to a Park and Rec dump truck being put out to bid. Strub noted that there has been some interest from the public relating to this dump truck which had been planned to sell for scrap metal due to its age and with the box being rusted out. Council member Arvid Hatlan recommended allowing the vehicle to be put out to bid with the City having the right to refuse bids if they are less than the scrap metal value of the vehicle. The council approved to move forward with the bidding process.

Ertl discussed the addendum for professional service fees for the 4th Street NW Improvements and 8th Avenue NW Sidewalk Improvement Project. The council approved to move forward with the addendum allowing for $15,000 in additional fees. The council also approved payment of Pladsen Addition engineering fees.

Swartz discussed the next agenda item relating to 7th Avenue SE Storm Sewer and additional professional services. He noted that this is an addendum to the original development agreement. Boden discussed funding options for this project with the council approving the addendum to the development agreement.

The council moved into discussion of splitting fees relating to the Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) transfer for City-ownership to County-ownership. Following discussion, the council opted to take no action with further discussion with VMH to take place.

Council member Andy Sires discussed the next matter relating to proposed signage on 16th Avenue NW. Sires noted a request from residents for children-at-play signage due to safety concerns relating to truck traffic and vehicle speed on this street with children present. The council approved to install two signs allowing for signage at each end of this road.

The council moved into Project Updates with Boden providing an update relating to the Pladsen Addition – Housing Development. Boden noted that he and Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) recently met with a developer that will be providing a response in a couple of weeks relating to interest in space for apartment development. Stone recommended adding information to the City’s website relating to land available for apartment development at the Pladsen Addition. The council approved to have Boden and Reinke create a draft of this information for the council to review.

The Street Department Garage was next discussed. Stone noted that the planning for this project seems to have lost some momentum. He discussed the potential use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding with Boden discussing other potential funding options. Boden noted that two different design plans will be presented at the May 1 council meeting to aid in this decision-making process. Boden advised that the funding for this project may be in flux with ARPA potentially being switched to Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).

Stone next discussed the City Parking Lot and Alley, recommending that ARPA funds be put towards this project. Ertl noted that plans for this project are approximately 50-percent complete and then further discussed bidding necessary for the project to begin yet this fall or later. Following discussion, the council approved to continue to move forward with this project based on a July letting or an alternate letting date.

Cooper provided an update relating to the Wastewater Treatment Plant and warranty work to be performed. He noted a few maintenance and repair items to be addressed while still under warranty and prior to the final release of funds relating to the plant’s construction.

Ertl provided an overview of several storm water quality improvement items to be addressed including wetland maintenance, seeding, permeable paver joints to be filled, among other items.

The clean-up of 9 and 11 Allamakee Street was next discussed relating to the buildings formerly occupied by businesses Tin, Rust & Harmony and Paws Up Pet Supplies that were destroyed by a February 2022 fire. The council discussed delays relating to the asbestos certified clean-up contractor. Snitker advised that her latest correspondence with the contractor indicates that the plan is to move equipment into the area and begin work as soon as this Thursday, weather permitting. The northbound lane of Allamakee Street will be barricaded and that northbound traffic will be detoured during the clean-up process.

Strub discussed the Park and Recreation Survey which he had addressed during his earlier Department Report. Strub further noted that MSA Professional Services will be submitting a draft of the comprehensive plan for the Park Board to review which will include information from this survey.

Cooper updated the council about the water meter replacement project, noting that 55 old water meters are yet to be replaced. He provided an overview of the budgeting for this project. Stone and Cooper also discussed curb stops.

The purchase of a second car camera for a Waukon Police Department patrol vehicle was tabled.

Boden discussed the Resolution relating to LOST Legislation/Senate File 550. He noted that this Resolution is similar to the Resolution recently approved by the Allamakee County Board Supervisors in support of maintaining local control of the LOST revenue collected as part of the 7-percent State Sales Tax, 1-percent LOST under local control and 6-percent under State control, and in opposition of Senate File 550. Boden further discussed that if approved, the Resolution would be sent on to area State legislators. The council approved the Resolution.

The Public Hearing on the Budget for Fiscal-Year Ending (FYE) June 30, 2024 was opened with Snitker advising that no written or verbal comments have been received. The Public Hearing was closed. The council approved the Resolution approving the Annual Budget for the City of Waukon for FYE June 30, 2024.

The Public Hearing on Proposed contract documents and estimated costs for 4th Street NW Improvements and 8th Avenue NW Sidewalk Improvements Project was opened with Snitker advising that no written or verbal comments have been received. The Public Hearing was closed.

The Resolutions on Finally Approving and Confirming Plans, Specifications and Form of Contract and Awarding Contract for 4th Street NW and 8th Avenue NW Sidewalk Project was next addressed. Ertl noted that two bids were received with Skyline as low bidder at three percent over the engineer’s estimate. The council approved to move forward with the low bid.

The consent agenda was approved. There was no Public Comment at this time newly-scheduled time.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into 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.