Lansing City Council hears update from Main Street Lansing, approves RAGBRAI related matters at Monday, May 2 meeting

by Julie Berg-Raymond

Main Street Lansing Executive Director Andy Kelleher shared some interesting numbers with the Lansing City Council during its regular meeting on Monday, May 2.

Having recently been asked by a Main Street business owner to help calculate the hourly value of downtown parking spaces, Kelleher said, he concluded the following: “Essentially, if you take downtown Lansing’s total annual revenue and divide it by the number of hours businesses are open as well as the number of parking spots downtown, you discover that the hourly value of a parking space was $54.47 in 2021. That’s a good number to provide perspective on our parking; and hopefully it will encourage the business community to have their employees park off Main Street during the day,” he said.

“Something else I discovered while calculating that number was that our annual sales revenue spiked in 2021, just like the hotel/motel tax” Kelleher continued. “It wasn’t nearly as dramatic, considering hotel/motel increased by more than 50 percent; but we saw a $3.5 million sales increase between 2020 and 2021, which was roughly a 25 percent increase.” Most years, Kelleher noted, only grow by $500,000 to $1 million. “Our hotel occupancy was up, and our sales were up,” he said. “2021 was a very good year for Lansing.”

Main Street Lansing (MSL): accomplishments and activities
Kelleher also updated the Council about some of Main Street Lansing’s recent accomplishments and upcoming activities. Among the accomplishments: At the annual Main Street Iowa Development Awards celebration held April 22 in Des Moines, Main Street Lansing was recognized for becoming a $3 Million Dollar District, indicating that over $3 million of private funds have been invested in downtown Lansing since Main Street Lansing’s inception in 2012. Main Street Lansing also was recognized for reaching its 10th anniversary as a Main Street Iowa program.

Regarding upcoming activities, Kelleher told the Council that Main Street Lansing will host “Taste of Lansing” Thursday, May 26, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., as part of its 10th anniversary celebration. Thursday, June 2, Lansing will be host to the Main Street Iowa Partnership Visit, an annual day-long meeting between a local Main Street program and Main Street Iowa staff. “The purpose of the visit is to evaluate the local Main Street program and identify areas for community improvement, as well as learning where Main Street Iowa can best assist partner communities,” Kelleher said. These visits involve multiple meetings with various groups; Council members Curt Snitker and Steve Murray, and Mayor Melissa Hammell will be attending the Elected City Officials meeting.

Additionally, Main Street Lansing will provide coordination assistance for the June Dairy Days parade, which is being hosted by Lansing Monday, June 6, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Lansing RAGBRAI requests approved
The Council approved requests from the Lansing RAGBRAI committee for a) a no-parking ordinance on 6th Street between Center and Main Saturday, July 30, to ensure semis, buses, etc. can make the turn from Center going onto 6th, and 6th onto Main Street; b) a no-parking ordinance on 2nd Street from Main to Center to accommodate the Department of Transportation (DOT) detour and wide turns for semis, etc.; 3) access to the ballfield for remaining tent campers on Saturday night, July 30; and 4) a no-parking ordinance on Center Street between 5th and 7th July 22-23, for charter buses.

Possible litigation
The city clerk will send a letter to Old School Builds, LLC, advising them that the City of Lansing will pursue litigation if work they were hired to do is not completed. “The work they did was resurfacing and painting the pool itself in 2020,” Parks and Recreation Board Chair Maryann Baldwin said. “The work was guaranteed and when we drained the pool last year, there was some fading and chipping again and we told them they needed to come back and take care of it. When it got too close to opening, we told them they could come in the fall, and they were fine with that. But then they never managed to make it out last fall, so here we are a year later.”

With Council member Mike Manning abstaining, the Council voted to approve the following Parks and Recreation hires: lifeguards - Macy Manning $12.50/hour, Violet Vehman $11/hour, Ella Strong $11.25/hour, Hannah Darling $11/hour and as needed assistant manager $12/hour, Zoey Timmerman $11/hour, Caden Evanson $11.25/hour, Jennifer Davis $11.50/hour and as needed assistant manager $12.50/hour, Alexis Johnson $12.25/hour, and Monica Davis $11.50/hour; coaches - Harvey Ekern, head softball, $10.75/hour, Tom Troendle, assistant baseball, $9.75/hour, and Randy Zipse, baseball head coach, $10/hour.

Hydrant flushing extended
PeopleService representative Duane Estebo advised the Council that flushing of hydrants has been extended to Wednesdays in May, because of April weather.

Solar streetlights - correction
Francis Garrett advised the Council that a newspaper article describing an offer to donate solar streetlights to the City needs to be corrected to note that he, himself, would not be making this donation. Instead, the donation would be made by the Celia Sander Garrett Foundation, upon approval by its Board of Directors.

In other business, liquor licenses were approved for T.J. Hunter’s and Tiki Bar. The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m., at Lansing City Hall.