Waukon City Council hears further complaints about Third Street NE

by Bob Beach

During its regular meeting Monday, August 18, the Waukon City Council heard continuing complaints and concerns from residents of Third Street NE, where the paving of the street has caused rainwater drainage problems that remain unresolved. Resident Steve Paul told the Council that he had been told that City Code requires sidewalks to be above curb level and asked why, if that is case, the street was raised above the sidewalk on the west side of the street.
Lyle TeKippe, the engineer for the project, said that there are other places in town where the sidewalk is situated below curb level. He said that sometimes it makes sense to keep the existing sidewalks in place and in this case, the street level was raised on the west side to allow for a standard street cross section.
Paul again asked why, if the City Code requires the sidewalk to be above the street, was the street allowed to be constructed as it was. "Was the City Attorney sleeping on the job?" he asked.
City Attorney Jim Garrett responded that he had never been asked to review the plans and specifications of any street project, and even if he had, not being an engineer, would not have the knowledge or expertise to decipher them.
Paul also expressed displeasure at plans to replace the grass in the boulevard with drainage stone. "I'll paint it green if they put rock in there," he said.
Another Third Street NE homeowner, former Waukon Mayor Keith Schroeder, said that the Council had faced a similar issue during the planning phase of the paving of Second Street. Schroeder said that a home owner had requested raising of the street level to improve driveway access, but the Mayor and the Council had told him no, because the street level would then be higher than the sidewalk on the other side of the street.
Schroeder went on to say that weeds, rather than grass, have grown where the contractor backfilled and reseeded after the paving project was complete, adding that he had seen chunks of concrete left in yards covered by a couple of inches of dirt. He told the Council that all payments for the project should be stopped until the problems are corrected.
TeKippe said he and Councilman Steve Wiedner had intended to meet personally with all of the homeowners on Third Street NE over the past two weeks, but that Wiedner had family situations that intervened. TeKippe said that he is still willing to meet individually with home owners in order to discuss any issues and find solutions to the problems on a case-by-case basis.
The Council then turned its attention to the West Side Development Project. Mayor Loren Beneke said that to date, the City had not been approached by any developer who wished to make use of the land where the Town and Country Trailer Court used to be. He said that the City had been approached by the Allamakee Community School District about using a portion of the property for its home construction program, proposing to build five houses over five years.
Joe Cunningham, representing the Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), told the Council that WEDC is prepared to facilitate the purchase of the building lots, though neither the school district nor WEDC currently has funds available to purchase the first such lot. He proposed that the City could deed the lot to WEDC for one year without interest until the house is constructed and sold. Alternatively, he said that WEDC could borrow the money for the lot.
The Council agreed to move forward with transferring the first lot to WEDC at no interest. The Council then approved several other items to continue moving forward, passing a resolution to approve the West Side Development plat, a resolution to sell the lot the to WEDC and setting a public hearing for September 2 regarding the sale of the property. The Council also set September 15 as the date for "consultation" on the sale as required by Iowa law and approved a waiver of the building permit fee for the school's home construction project.
The Council also met with Allamakee Economic Development Executive Director Laura Olson, who told the Council that she had met with representatives from Aveka who asked for the City's help in funding the installation of equipment to alleviate the smell sometimes produced by the facility. She said that Aveka is willing to make its financial records available in order to demonstrate its need for financial assistance, but would need to know who would review those documents and would like to have a non-disclosure agreement in place before making those records available. City Attorney Jim Garrett suggested that Dennis Lyons, who is Aveka's banker, might be well suited to review those records. Mayor Beneke noted that Aveka has not previously received any financial assistance from the City.
In other business, the Council voted to terminate the current lease for agricultural land near the airport in order to seek new bids. The Council also voted to accept an agreement with TeKippe Engineering, a division of Fehr-Graham engineering, for professional services regarding the Fruechte building on Main Street in downtown Waukon. The Council also directed TeKippe to develop plans and specifications for the installation of curb and gutter on the south end of First Street SW.