Waukon City Council hears presentation relating to Park and Recreation Master Plan, advised of new “Coffee with the Mayor” beginning July 22

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, July 10 to address a full agenda of matters. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Arvid Hatlan.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Mandy Halverson of the Waukon Chamber of Commerce updated the council about the upcoming visit by Prosper Waukon, a descendant of Waukon’s founder, John Waukon, and his wife scheduled for July 24-27. Halverson noted that Prosper Waukon will be part of several events during his visit which are yet to be scheduled, with an appearance at Robey Memorial Library July 25 confirmed thus far.

Halverson also noted that KCRG will be back in Waukon to film an “Our Town” segment during the week of the Allamakee County Fair. She said that segment is scheduled to air the last week of July or in early August.

The meeting moved into Department Reports with Police Chief Paul Wagner discussing the Speed Feedback Sign Program through the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). Wagner advised that it is likely that Waukon will qualify for three speed feedback signs to be placed on State Highway entrances in town to show vehicle speed, slow traffic, increase pedestrian safety, among other benefits, with there being no cost to the City of Waukon through this program.

Wagner also discussed a grant program through the USDA with an application submitted to fund 35-percent of a new patrol vehicle purchase, if approved. He also noted that he anticipates that a life-saving award will be presented at the next Waukon City Council meeting with details relating to that recipient not yet being released.

Wagner advised that planning and discussions are ongoing relating to the placement of security cameras in the City Park. He advised that he will be printing out a map and seeking input from the council relating to its recommendations for security camera placements as part of this process and the development relating to this proposal. With an upgrade to patrol vehicle cameras, Wagner provided a recommendation to donate the previous patrol vehicle cameras to the Baxter, IA Police Department following their request. Wagner advised that due to grant funding relating to the patrol vehicle camera purchases, these items cannot be resold but can be donated to another police department for similar use.

Wagner noted that Kerr Electric is assisting with the storm siren repair in the City Park following that siren’s recent failed test. He will keep the council informed about this repair.

Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that Summer Rec Programs are finishing up for the year with football and volleyball to begin in mid-August. Strub noted that the City Park employees have been able to address several projects with lawn mowing being less frequent due to dry conditions. Strub discussed swimming pool staffing during the summer and that the August schedule is being developed with some lifeguards leaving for college and others involved in high school sports with afternoon practices.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper noted that sewer jetting is taking place at the northwest side of town with that process being 40-percent done and the northeast side of town anticipated for sewer jetting next. Cooper noted that Tyler Thesing, a Water and Sewer Department employee, has continued with training and certification relating to lab testing and is authorized to perform in-house testing and documentation, rather than sending to an outside lab, necessary in meeting EPA requirements.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett advised that street patching work is ongoing. Burrett discussed staffing in his department with one vacancy due to a recent resignation and one employee currently on vacation. He discussed the review of applications and the interview process to fill this vacancy.

Engineer Sam Ertl of Fehr Graham Engineering provided updates relating to several ongoing projects. Ertl noted that work at 4th Street NW and 8th Avenue NW will require future agenda items. Ertl further noted that Skyline will be wrapping up sidewalk work along 8th Avenue NW this week with that sidewalk to be accessible prior to the Allamakee County Fair. Work continues laying the sanitary sewer along 4th Street NW, as indicated by Ertl, with a box culvert preconstruction meeting scheduled for later this week with a few utilities invited to participate.

Ertl provided an update relating to the Pladsen Addition advising that the mainline has been paved and noting the paving of West Street to take place upon the return of the asphalt contractor. Ertl advised that the 2nd Street SW and new 8th Avenue SW intersection work will begin in the next few weeks. He noted that he has reached out to contractors relating to pavement marking quotes and that Alliant Energy is preparing a proposal to install three light poles near the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree lot with light poles anticipated to be installed as other lots are developed. Ertl provided a brief update relating to the City parking lot, behind Hartig Drug, and alley project, noting the retaining wall, handicapped parking spaces and coordination with Wagner relating to security camera placement.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker noted recent communications with Downtown Economic Development Specialist Jim Thompson with Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) relating to the Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program grant application submitted on behalf of the Town Theater.

Snitker further noted that the official award letter has not yet been received but the Town Theater has been approved for the Catalyst Grant for improvements and renovations budgeted at over $180,000 with a dollar-for-dollar match allowing for a $90,000 grant award from IEDA.

Snitker noted that she will be attending training sessions through the Municipal Professionals Institute next week. Any agenda items to be added to the next meeting agenda should be provided to Finance Director Lana Snitker in her absence. Snitker then provided an overview of end of fiscal year financials including the General Fund, revenues, expenditures in addition to a variety of budget matters.

Assistant City Attorney Kevin Stinn noted that he would be available to provide feedback relating to items later on the agenda.

City Manager Gary Boden further addressed Halverson’s comments relating to KCRG’s coverage and promotion of Waukon. Boden noted that the City of Waukon has committed $3,200 as part of a sponsorship with KCRG, which he described as incredible publicity for Waukon. Boden noted a phone interview scheduled for Wednesday this week with footage being shot involving all sponsors Wednesday, July 19.

For the City Council Report, council member Kevin Johnson recommended that Halverson be involved in the phone interview Wednesday.

For the Mayor’s Report, Hatlan noted that, effective immediately, agenda items must be submitted by 10 a.m. Thursday with City Clerk Sarah Snitker to have City Council packets prepared by 12 noon Thursday. Hatlan noted that the Department Reports portion of council meetings will be for reports only, with any discussion matters needing to be added as agenda items. He advised that it is the expectation that department heads submit an emailed or written report if not attending council meetings. Hatlan also advised that, moving forward, either Wagner, Assistant Police Chief Mason Kwilinski or an officer on duty will be present at council meetings to provide updates and as a security measure.

Hatlan and Snitker discussed the development of a shared calendar for improved communication between council members, department heads and City Hall staff relating to schedules and absences due to vacation, paid time off (PTO) and off-site training. Hatlan noted that a new event will be scheduled monthly known as Coffee with the Mayor, the first of which will be July 22 from 8-10 a.m. at City Hall. Hatlan further noted that Coffee with the Mayor will be an additional opportunity for the public to provide feedback, especially for those individuals not available or who are uncomfortable speaking during council meetings.

Hatlan advised that State of Iowa Auditor Rob Sand will be holding a town hall style meeting open to the public at the Freedom Rock in the Waukon City Park Friday, July 14 from 6:15-7:15 p.m. He noted that the sidewalk on 8th Avenue is a great addition and that he has seen pedestrian traffic even with this project not completely finished. Hatlan noted that the Pledge of Allegiance will be part of council meeting agendas moving forward.

The meeting moved into discussion of the water bill at 105 1st Avenue SW. Matt Teslow, owner of this rental property, noted that he received a water bill for 132,400 gallons representing a total bill of $2,137.70. Teslow noted that 57 days into the billing cycle this property’s water meter was changed as part of the citywide water meter upgrade. Teslow noted that due to this upgrade and delayed billing cycle, he was not made aware of this issue at the regular three-month billing interval. Teslow added that a repair to a leaky faucet and leaky toilet at this property appears to have fixed the issue, which he was not aware of prior to receiving the delayed billing. Teslow advised that he is not placing blame but requesting a billing adjustment due to hardship.

Cooper noted that this was a “perfect storm” of factors associated with the water meter upgrade and employee training that took place in March while this issue was ongoing. Teslow presented calculations based upon the average water usage with his recommendation of a billing adjustment starting after the three-month point of water usage, due to the delayed billing cycle. Following a lengthy discussion with the council, the matter was tabled and is anticipated for consideration at the next council meeting. Cooper and Hatlan both noted that it is the property owner’s responsibility for plumbing-related maintenance and the monitoring of water use. Cooper further noted that the water meter upgrade and billing process will be a good system moving forward.

The meeting moved into the Storm Sewer Installation Discussion for 607 2nd Avenue SW. The council discussed feedback received from contractors relating to storm sewer drainage options. The council approved to move forward with an option anticipated to be under $3,000 to improve storm water drainage near this property.

Halverson provided an overview of the next agenda item relating to Corn Days Activities: Approval of Resolutions for street closures for August 4 and 5. Halverson noted the proposed street closure Friday for 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. downtown allowing for set-up before and clean-up following the Corn Days meal scheduled for 4-8 p.m. to include a hamburger/hot dog bar and s’mores. Halverson noted that a movie showing in the Waukon State Bank parking lot is being discussed. She said the Corn Days Parade is scheduled for Saturday in addition to a variety of events and vendors. The council approved both street closure Resolutions for August 4 and 5.

The meeting moved into the presentation relating to the Park and Recreation Master Plan with Planner Shannon Gapp of MSA Professional Services providing an overview of this research and planning process. Gapp noted that the Park and Recreation Master Plan survey had over 250 responses, which she advised is a great response rate for a community the size of Waukon.

Gapp’s overview focused on several chapters included in the plan covering a variety of areas including an analysis of needs and demands, goals and policies, recommendations and implementation, among other aspects of this process. Strub and Park and Rec Board members discussed recommendations received as part of this planning process. No action was taken relating to this informational matter.

The Council Member Ward 3 Vacancy agenda item was next discussed. The council approved to publish notice of this vacancy with an appointment to take place at the July 24 City Council meeting.

Cooper noted that no bids were received for the Ford Crown Victoria that was advertised for closed bid. The council approved to have Cooper dispose of the vehicle as scrap.

The council approved payment to Lansing Brothers Construction for work completed for the 9 and 11 Allamakee Street Project. Council member John Lydon noted the excellent work this company has done in demolition and clean-up of these structures, in addition to being great to work with and in assisting with the return of former tenants’ personal belongings.

The Resolution Declaring Lumen Non-Responsive to Request Relocation for Public Street Improvements Project was approved. Storm Water Quality Improvement Contracts and Resolution were approved.

The 2nd Reading and adoption of the Ordinance Establishing Special Speed Restrictions, Stop Signs and No Parking Regulations on 8th Avenue SW was approved. The First Reading of the Ordinance Changing Tree Planting Specifications, waiving of Second Reading with adoption was approved.

The Ordinance Changing Driveway Regulations First Reading, waiving of the Second Reading with adoption was approved. The council noted that change moves the 20-feet restriction to a 24-feet maximum width.

During the second Public Comment period, Halverson clarified with Hatlan that the Coffee with the Mayor event will be a monthly event moving forward, which Hatlan confirmed. Cristina Smith questioned Wagner about what phone number should be used by the public to report any suspicious activities or non-emergency concerns, with Wagner providing 568-9000 for any of these concerns.

Prior to adjournment, the meeting 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 (x2).