Waukon City Council discusses ordinance regarding dangerous and vicious animals, approves assessment for 9 Allamakee Street property

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, February 5 to address a full agenda of matters including discussion of the City’s Dangerous and Vicious Animals Ordinance, the Assessment Schedule for 9 Allamakee Street, and the tentative approval of Capital Improvement Project and Revenue Budgets. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Arvid Hatlan.

There was no Public Comment with the meeting moving into Department Reports, with Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub providing an update. Strub noted that the Youth Recreation program’s basketball season is coming to an end with soccer being advertised to start in April, which he advised is one of the larger programs with participants from several communities. Strub noted that the Wellness Center is very busy this time of year and that advertising will begin for summer employment including coaches, park help, lifeguards, among others.

Council member Dave Blocker noted fundraising being performed by a group of citizens relating to a replacement ATV/UTV. Strub explained that this group has raised approximately $5,000 towards that expense with an update relating to this project to be provided at an upcoming council meeting.

As part of his report, Police Chief Paul Wagner presented a 2023 call volume sheet to the council illustrating the number and types of calls the Waukon Police Department responded to throughout the year. Wagner provided an overview of several specifics advising that 764 commercial door checks were performed, 405 medical call/ambulance assists took place, 804 residential property checks were performed, among other service areas.

Wagner further noted an android cell phone update last year which contributed to an increased number of accidental 911 dials for 2023 with his report noting that 182 accidental 911 dials took place. Wagner further noted that it is department policy to verify that an individual making an accidental dial is physically okay.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett noted that the 12-foot snow blade compatible with the Street Department’s skid loader has been delivered and that similarly a new pick-up previously on order has been delivered. Burrett and the council discussed making a 2007 Dodge pick-up available for sale by sealed bid. Burrett discussed other ongoing projects including pothole repairs and tree trimming. Hatlan noted that downtown snow removal plans relating to the use of the 12-foot snow blade and skid loader have been shared with the Chamber of Commerce and downtown business owners.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed a water main break on 1st Avenue SE, leading to Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH), which was repaired late last week. In terms of water infrastructure, Cooper advised that he recommends this portion of pipe be prioritized for replacement.

Cooper advised that he has consulted Senior Project Engineer Lucas Elsbernd of Fehr Graham Engineering relating to a repair of the air exchange heater at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Engineer Sam Ertl of Fehr Graham Engineering provided an update noting that he will be addressing matters listed on the meeting agenda. Ertl advised that it is his assumption that Mediacom may be working on West Street SW.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker reported that she is working with Executive Director Mandy Halverson of the Waukon Chamber of Commerce relating to the celebration of Waukon’s 175th anniversary. Snitker noted that this milestone will be celebrated in conjunction with other events and with promotions throughout the year. Halverson added that a variety of events, promotions and contests have been discussed including a photo contest showcasing historic events in Waukon, 175th anniversary parade floats, downtown street light banners, among other celebration specific items. Snitker noted that a 175th anniversary logo has been designed and shared by Epic Wear for the City of Waukon’s use in promoting this milestone.

Finance Director Lana Snitker, City Attorney Jeff Swartz and City Manager Gary Boden did not have information to add in their respective reports. Council members Steve Wiedner, Nic Engrav, Dave Blocker, Kevin Johnson and John Lydon all noted that they did not have information to add for the City Council Report.

For the Mayor’s Report, Hatlan noted a phone call from a citizen relating to the development of the former Bresnahan property. Hatlan advised that the council will be moving forward on that matter. Hatlan also suggested that City Hall roof repairs will need to be addressed.

The meeting moved into discussion of the Dangerous and Vicious Animals Ordinance with the council and Swartz reviewing potential changes. Swartz noted redundancies to be eliminated and language to be updated. Council member Steve Wiedner noted that he was on the council when this ordinance was originally approved, explaining that the ordinance addressed a safety concern impacting children and the public in general. The council provided direction to Swartz to keep the list of prohibited dog breeds in the ordinance and to clean up the sunset clause portion. No action was taken.

The council next discussed the assessment schedule for 9 Allamakee Street. Swartz provided an overview of the next steps in this process relating to the tax lien against the abatement cost resulting from the clean-up of 9 Allamakee Street following the February 13, 2022 fire at the former Tin, Rust and Harmony retail location owned by Mindy Jo Jones. The council approved setting the abatement cost at $45,206.19.

The council approved the Claims Agreement relating to the Pladsen Addition Project. This agreement relates to the payment of claims to Skyline Construction Inc. performing construction for S&M Developments, LLC.

The meeting moved into discussion of the 4th Street NW and 8th Avenue NW Improvements Project Change Order #6 and Pay Estimate #9. Following discussion, the council approved the matter.

The 1st Street and 1st Avenue NW Storm Sewer Project Change Order #7 and Pay Estimate #6 was also approved by the council. Both change orders reflected decreases in cost from original estimates as a result of final adjustments in quantities of materials used based on actual field measurements for each project.

The meeting moved into the tentative approval of Capital Improvement Project and Revenue Budgets. Boden provided a presentation outlining revenue and expenditure projections, more specifically for three projects, including West Street SW, City Parking Lot and Alley, and Pladsen Stormwater Outlet. The council tentatively approved the Capital Improvement Project and Revenue Budgets as presented.

During the second Public Comment portion of the meeting, former council member John Ellingson addressed the Dangerous and Vicious Animals Ordinance discussed earlier in the meeting. Ellingson discussed the writing of this ordinance approximately 15 years ago in an effort to not only prevent dog bites but also prevent homicide by canine.

Ellingson noted that prior to the ordinance, unleashed and unregulated animals in Waukon were not conducive to the health and welfare of children or adults. Ellingson further noted a dog fighting incident that occurred on the southwest side of Waukon which gained some national news coverage, among other examples in support of the Dangerous and Vicious Animals Ordinance. Hatlan thanked Ellingson for his comments.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (1)(j) to discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property or reduce the price the governmental body would receive for that property.