Lansing City Council declares Friday, July 14 “Star City Film Festival Day”

by Julie Berg-Raymond

During its regular meeting Monday, July 3, Mayor Melissa Hammel signed a declaration stating that Friday, July 14 is Star City Film Festival Day in Lansing.

As noted in the declaration, the Star City Film Festival will be held in Lansing July 14-16, and will bring together filmmakers, artists and community members, “fostering a spirit of creativity, collaboration and cultural exchange.” In her request to the council for the declaration, Star City Film Festival Founder Katie O’Regan, of Waukon, described the three-day-long event, noting that “there will be many guests in town related to the short, independent films that will be shown. The schedule includes a kick-off evening at the Red Barn with actor live reads, a few short films, and food and beverages to welcome guests and viewers to Lansing. Saturday films will be shown at TJ Hunters all day and at Lansing Office Works in the afternoon. In the evening, there will be a red-carpet celebration at TJ Hunters. Sunday morning features additional films, followed by an awards ceremony at noon.” Following the signing of the declaration, O’Regan said she wants to make Lansing the permanent home for the annual film festival. “I love it here,” she said.

The council heard a citizen concern from Ron Hogan regarding the railroad having placed several large concrete blocks on the roadway that goes under the rail bridge at South Front Street and Valley Street. In a statement submitted to the council, Hogan noted that the blocks are about two-thirds on his property and one-third on City property. “This was done without my permission,” he noted. “I am here to find out if the City gave them permission. If not, we need to work together to get the blocks removed.”

Council members told Hogan the City had not been in contact with the railroad and noted that they were not previously aware of the situation. In response to Hogan’s concern that the blocks are obstructing his roadway access, council member Curtis Snitker said, “clearly, it should not be blocked … (But) it’s a lengthy process to deal with the railroad. We can address it with them and see what happens. I know that’s not what you want to hear.”

Council member Ian Zahren noted that his experience working with the railroad during plans for RAGBRAI 2022 revealed a similar problem. “It’s just a very difficult and lengthy process, and (the railroad) may or may not address your concern; but I’m more than happy to file a complaint.” Council member Lisa Welsh also said, “I don’t have a problem writing a complaint.”

Hogan emphasized, “the thing that makes me mad is that it was done on private land, without permission,” and said he wanted to know how the council felt about “letting the railroad come in on private property … I’m willing to go to court this time.”

Mayor Hammel said she would follow up on Hogan’s concern with her contact at the railroad and would get in touch with Hogan once she heard back from that contact.

The council approved a bid from River City Paving, a division of Mathy Construction of Dubuque, for three street construction projects - at Iowa Street, Walnut Street and 5th Street - for a total cost of $78,050. No other bids were submitted. City Clerk Katie Becker noted that the city council candidate filing period is August 28 to September 21, and that papers need to be filed at the Allamakee County Auditor’s office. The office of mayor and two council seats - those currently held by Curtis Snitker and Ian Zahren - are up for election/re-election this year. The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled for Monday, July 17, at 7 p.m., in Lansing City Hall.