Lansing City Council discusses hazard mitigation plan, opening of City swimming pool

by Macie Hill

Monday, May 15 the regular Lansing City Council meeting was held. During the discussion many things were talked about, including: hazard mitigation plans, consideration of fixing a rain gutter problem for Our Savior Lutheran Church, discussing owners at 459 Wall Street purchasing chickens, a Parks Board position being available, information about the local swimming pool, and using the swimming pool shower facilities during RAGBRAI®.

Michelle Barness of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission attended the meeting to discuss the hazard mitigation plans for Lansing and Allamakee County. FEMA does require that the council updates this hazard mitigation plan every five years. Barness explained that the purpose of having a hazard mitigation plan is to mitigate damage from different hazards from happening to Lansing’s people or property, including things such as “tornadoes, wind storms, severe winter weather and anything you could think of,” stated Barness. She also said that the plan would protect from any manmade issues, such as terrorism. FEMA has this plan to prevent all of these potential issues in any way before they happen.

Barness explained that the timeline for putting this plan into action is anticipated to take about two years and “we’re kind of right in the middle here,” she added, with the planning ending next April. The committee that discusses all of the hazards has prioritized a list of all of the possible hazards. They also touched on how long each of the problems would last, how these issues could affect the people, and what warning time would be. There was a list of some of these hazards passed out to the council and all of the community members that attended the meeting to see if any of them, in their opinion, were falsely ranked.

One of the community members thought that the hazard classified as the transportation incident should be higher on the magnitude scale because the trains that come through town are so close to a lot of different buildings and could be carrying a number of different things that could potentially be a hazard. Another community member thought that it would depend on what the train is hauling to determine the level of damage that it could do if something were to happen.

Having a storm shelter for the community also came up and is a concern, and Mayor Mike Brennan and the council members plan on looking into that topic. Barness also read a list of ideas that other communities in the surrounding areas are considering changing or improving, which consisted of things like getting new emergency response vehicles, developing water and soil conservation strategies, and developing tree treatment and replacement plans. Concluding the topic of hazard mitigation, Barness said that she will look into the railroad issue and what they would do if the worst happened, along with possible things they could do to plan and prevent those situations.

Next, Our Savior Lutheran Church requested something to be done about how the storm waterway at its location has gotten worn over the years and is “becoming dangerous,” stated Don Thran speaking on behalf of the church. He also included that there was a 16-inch drop-off from the sidewalk to the street and that during the winter it is getting difficult to remove the snow from the divot. He would prefer to see a permanent solution eventually but a temporary solution would suffice for now. Mayor Brennan suggested he and the Street Committee would talk about different suggestions that would be the best fix for the problem and also suggested it might be something the church could possibly look into, which may also provide a faster result.

Continuing with the citizens’ concerns portion of the meeting, the council reviewed and considered the residents at 659 Wall Street owning chickens. The owner had previously talked to the neighbors about having the chickens and they did not have any problems or concerns with the situation. The City Ordinance states that “It is unlawful for a person to keep livestock within the city except by written consent of the council.”

Mayor Brennan does not have a problem with the chickens but one thing that council member Pat Wagner brought up is how he would rather not discuss local residents getting approval to own chickens at every meeting, noting that if they approve one person to own chickens, there is a possibility that the requests could keep coming in. All of the council took that into consideration before making the final decision, which everyone approved.

Next, discussion circled around how a new Parks Board member position is now available replacing Kelly Mudderman, whose term is up and she does not wish to continue.

Mayor Brennan added that the Parks Board has been working diligently to find a way to open the local swimming pool. Brennan advised that Rick Welsh and Matt Troendle would step in with helping the position of the CPO (certified pool operator) and is confident that if they could get the other positions needed, the CPO position would work with Welsh and Troendle just fine. Another position Brennan brought up was a pool manager, which local community member Beth Galema, who attended the meeting, stated, “I would manage and I would step up and do it.” With the main concern now getting enough lifeguards, the council decided the minimum number that would be sufficient is eight. Also discussed was cutting back on the days of the week opened and possibly the hours of the day that the pool will be offering if it does open, depending on the number of applicants that are received. All applications should be turned in to the City Clerk’s office in the next week so they can determine whether or not the pool will have enough staff members to open.

There was also a RAGBRAI meeting held May 15, at which they discussed using the shower facilities located at the swimming pool whether it opens or not. The main concern with such usage would be liability concerns.

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