Waukon City Council discusses West Side Development area

by Bob Beach

The Waukon City Council began its regular meeting Tuesday, September 2 (postponed due to the Labor Day holiday falling on its usual meeting day, Monday, September 1) by holding a public hearing regarding the sale of a residential lot in the West Side Development area along the west edge of Waukon to Waukon Economic Development (WEDC). Hearing no comments from the public, the Mayor declared the public hearing closed and the Council approved a resolution approving the sale.
The Council also approved a development agreement under which WEDC would provide the building lot to the Allamakee Community School District for use in the district's home construction program. Lyle TeKippe of TeKippe Engineering reported that he would have plans and specifications  for the installation of water and sewer services in the development area, as well as curb and gutter, prepared for the Council's next regular meeting.
Mayor Loren Beneke told the Council that real estate developer Tony Beneke had expressed an interest in purchasing a lot (or lots) in the other half of the West Side Development area for the construction of condominiums. He said that the process for selling the lot or lots would be similar to the WEDC sale in terms of public hearings and a development agreement. Councilman Don Steffens said that he doesn't believe the City should be involved in the development of the lots and that the City should simply sell the lots to developers without requiring a development agreement.
Councilmen Trent Mitchell and Steve Wiedner agreed with Steffens, saying that they would have no concerns about the development as long as the buildings are up to code and the City recoups its money for the purchase of the land and the closure of the trailer park. Mayor Beneke pointed out that there is currently no single point of contact regarding the development area and asked if any member of the Council would be willing to serve in that capacity. There being no volunteers, the Council voted unanimously to request that WEDC take the lead on the project.
The Council then turned its attention to a proposed agreement between the City and Sweeney Properties (Jim Sweeney) to provide electricity for an electronic bulletin board in the downtown plaza. Under the agreement, the City would reimburse Sweeney $56.86 per month, paid quarterly, to connect electricity to the sign through the former Tierney's building at the corner of Main Street and Rossville Road. Councilman Trent Mitchell suggested that the City should get its electricity from a nearby street light rather than from private property, noting that the cost to hook up the electricity that way had been estimated at $1,000.
Councilman Steve Wiedner, in the interest of getting the sign operational as soon as possible, made a motion to accept the agreement, which was seconded by Steffens, but Mitchell and Sanderson voted against it. Due to the absence of Councilman Darrold Brink, the vote was a tie and the motion initially failed. After further discussion, Mitchell agreed to accept the agreement on a temporary basis and the motion carried.
With regard to resident complaints regarding the paving of Third Street Northeast, Mayor Beneke told the Council that TeKippe, the project engineer, had been informed that an engineer had been hired by the City to review the project. TeKippe told the Council that he and Councilman Wiedner had met with residents who had agreed to have "humps" added to the ends of several driveways to keep rainwater in the street. TeKippe said that the residents preferred this solution to his prior proposal to fill the boulevard areas with rock for better drainage. TeKippe said he had also spoken with the contractor about the weeds in the boulevards.
The Council also reviewed a request from former Water and Sewer Department employee Rick Herman to be reassigned to the City of Waukon Street Department. Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell told the Council that Herman had been relieved of his duties in the Water and Sewer Department because he had not acquired the certifications required by union contract in the specified amount of time. Street Superintendent Randy Murphy told the Council that there are no openings in the Street Department. The Council voted unanimously to reject Herman's request.
In other business, the Council approved the bid of $4,865 by JLH Engineering to repair the roof on the digester at the wastewater treatment plant. The Council also approved the official financial report for City streets and parking from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. City Clerk Diane Sweeney noted that the ending balance of the fund was approximately $50,000 but it would be preferred to keep the fund balance above $100,000.