Waukon City Council hears update on noise and odor concerns from Aveka general manager, also hears positive review of RAGBRAI® event

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, August 7 to address a variety of matters, including Aveka noise and odor concerns, the Green Valley Bridge project and a review of the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®) visit to Waukon. Mayor Duane DeWalle called the meeting to order with approval of the current agenda and minutes from the July 17 meeting.

The Public Hearing for a seven-year lease of a Johnson Vacuum Sweeper VT651-D on a Freightliner M2 Chassis for a total lease of $290,176.04 was opened and closed without any written or verbal comments. The Resolution for the Johnson Vacuum Sweeper lease agreement for seven years was approved later in the meeting at a total lease amount of $290,176.04 for the street sweeper. The Public Hearing for the Sanitary Sewer Collection Spot Repairs Project was also opened and closed without any written or verbal comments.

The council moved into the Public Comments portion of the meeting, with East Main Street resident Brooke Troendle discussing with the council the need for sidewalks around the golf course (along Fourth Street SE and Seventh Avenue SE) in Waukon, recognizing past issues with securing easements from other property owners to make this project a reality. Troendle indicated that she and other parents would like to see sidewalks added due to the amount of pedestrian traffic and young children riding bicycles in that area. Fifth Street NW resident John Ellingson added that there were right-of-way concerns when this project had been previously discussed during his time serving on the council. The council agreed to revisit and discuss this project at a later time.

Under Departmental Reports, Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell advised the council that an insurance company has reached out to him regarding a program that would cover water lines, potentially benefiting property owners and the City. Assistant Police Chief Paul Wagner discussed RAGBRAI being a successful event during its July 28 overnight visit, with the City only having two arrests during the local event.

Park and Recreation Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that the Waukon Family Aquatic Center in Waukon City Park will close for the season August 22 with school scheduled to start August 23. He noted there will be some use by the high school for physical education classes after the public closure, with a potential public re-opening if school has an early-out due to excessively high temperatures. Strub also indicated that the fall recreation programming will be starting soon.

Under Regular Business, the local Boy Scout troop's request for storage space was addressed by Scoutmaster John Troendle. The City Council agreed that some space within the former police station area of City Hall could be used for the troop's storage needs.

The Council moved into the Aveka noise and odor agenda item with local facility general manager John Anderson providing feedback on the City’s recent letter requesting no more than a 25-decibel sound level being produced by the facility. Anderson indicated that requested level would not be realistic even if the facility were to shut down its loudest operations. Anderson discussed the portable noise barriers and work on the facility's fan - which was lowered by seven hertz, resulting in a reduction in noise.

Anderson further advised that a quote has been received from Pat Stone with Stone Construction of Waukon for a permanent wall to reduce sound and that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the extension of the facility's smokestack to 85 feet, which should serve to lower the noise and odor produced at the facility. Anderson advised that 30 days will be needed for concrete to cure for the smokestack base, with a planned completion of the wall and smokestack extension yet this fall. Anderson expressed that he wishes to keep a dialogue open with the City on these matters and improvements.

Kevin Welsh, a homeowner living 245 feet from the Aveka facility’s smokestack, advised of a strong odor from the Aveka facility once again over the weekend. Welsh also said that he has concerns about the smokestack extension and whether this will just spread the problems further throughout the community.

Jason Fish with Goodfellas Bar on Main Street in downtown Waukon presented his request for a street closure for August 18 for a street dance to be part of Waukon Corn Days. Fish discussed that this event has been a tradition for several years and has been well received by the public. The Council approved the street dance and road closure for August 18.

Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided an update on RAGBRAI's overnight visit to Waukon, relaying several positive comments and stories from Waukon hosts and RAGBRAI riders. Kuhse indicated that she is not yet prepared to present financial information, as some billing for goods and services has yet to be finalized, but early indications appear positive. Kuhse discussed the unexpected benefit of the southern migration of support vehicles from Lansing to Waukon July 29, which she believes should have helped offset the gas sales losses incurred by Casey’s and Kwik Star with the street closures in Waukon during RAGBRAI Thursday and Friday.

Kuhse indicated that the clean-up process after Friday's main event went well, with City streets being clean before 5 a.m. for the early departure of some riders July 29. She also said that the Waukon RAGBRAI website will be taken down August 20, with the Facebook page to continue indefinitely. Kuhse advised that drone footage was taken in Waukon during RAGBRAI and will be available soon, and that representatives of RAGBRAI from Des Moines will be in Waukon August 30 for a follow-up visit to provide feedback on Waukon’s performance.
Kuhse commented that “Waukon can do anything” following successful large scale events like Tractorcade and RAGBRAI. She also thanked The Standard newspaper for its front page coverage leading up to RAGBRAI.

Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering discussed the Green Valley Bridge project agenda item, providing some preliminary requirements and specifications for this pre-cast arch-style bridge that qualifies for 80% funding through the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). TeKippe discussed the bidding process and options for receiving competitive bids and that he has been in contact with Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour. The Council discussed the City and County roles in this project and that resolutions will need to be approved at the appropriate level, either City or County. The motion to proceed was approved by the Council.

Pat Egan with the Street Department discussed the Street Department request for a power washer at a cost of $3,500, which the Council approved. The 12th Street NW and Park Place Court Partial Pay Estimate #1 for $51,944.48 to River City Paving was approved by the Council, which involved Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) improvements.

The Reimbursement Policy, which details the reimbursement of City employees for professional development, travel and other expenses related to their position, was approved by the Council. City Attorney Jim Garrett discussed the Legislative updates to City Code including Delinquent Municipal Utilities accounts, Cigarette and Tobacco Permits including nicotine and vapor products, and the Occupancy of Residential Property, which was approved by the Council.

The Council combined agenda items 11-24 into one vote, which was approved. These agenda items included Resolutions relating to the 2017 Trenchless Storm Sewer Project, the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Spot Repairs Project and routine financial matters.
Under Other Matters, Garrett advised that Dean Hilgerson will be presented a contract for the City Manager position which will also need to be signed by City officials.

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