Council hears update on Schiller Street corridor

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on Feb. 19 heard a engineer's update on the Schiller Street Corridor project and looked at a proposal to hire an community/economic development director.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led council members Jane Parker, Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub, Austin Greve and Mick Pierce through the evening's agenda. Also at the council table were City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Engineering updates

Steve Thompson, an engineer with Veenstra and Kimm, Inc., gave the council an update on several projects.

Thompson sought council input on the scope of the Schiller Street Corridor project. The project is being made possible by a $248,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Discussion was held on such items as the entrance feature from Highway 52, handicapped accessible sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and lighting. Thompson also asked if the council wants to reconstruct the roadway at this time to replace aging infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. He requested that the city settle on the project’s final scope by the March meeting. Comments on the project were presented by Sherry Oliver of the local Umbrella Arts group, which is serving in an advisory capacity for the project design. 

Thompson also gave the council three options for dealing with the eroding riverbank behind the public restroom in the 500 block of downtown Guttenberg.  After discussion, the council approved a services agreement with his firm (and directed him to proceed with a plan to construct a sheet piling wall and restore the bank.)

The engineer also gave an update on the sanitary sewer project, saying that the project is still in the review stage by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Thompson told the council his firm is working with the city manager to apply for Iowa TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) funding for a sidewalk along Highway 52 from DeKalb to Hadyn Street. He said that expanding the project would possibly make the grant application more competitive. The council gave its approval to proceed with the application. 

Community/Economic Development

The mayor presented for discussion a proposal to establish a Community/Economic Development position as a way to grow local businesses and the community. He said the new position would not be an extension of current organizations but would instead incorporate such things as zoning matters, building permits, long-term planning, funding and "things that are needed to set the right course for the city for business development."

The city manager said the recommendation for the CD/ED position was made by the Chamber of Commerce, Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Commission, and hospital board. Austin Coon of the GEIDC also spoke about the idea, saying that the number one priority of the  proposed new position would be recruitment. In discussing salary and funding, the city manager said the goal would be for the position to pay for itself. 

Other business

Joe White of Dyersville introduced himself to the council and told of plans to open a NAPA Store in Guttenberg in the near future.

A resolution was approved that would refinance a 2012 general obligation loan in order save money by lowering the interest rate. 

The council set the March 9 regular council meeting as the date for a public hearing on the 2020-2021 budget. The council also approved a newly-mandated resolution as the first step in the budget process, setting the maximum property tax dollars for the budget. 

The council approved a zoning change request from Jack and Linda Benskin for property along Bluff Street in order to build a garage for personal use.

Discussion continued from last month's meeting on nuisance properties and ways to have owners clean up their properties. Personal visits will be made and letters will be sent to owners.  

Rick Jensen spoke to the council about his request to purchase a parcel of city land near the railroad tracks in north Guttenberg.  No action was taken pending the review of a similar transaction last year.

Ryan Jaster was approved as a member of the Guttenberg Fire Department.

A $4,739 quote from Reliable Technology was accepted for updating computers and software in the city office. The city office will close on April 30 for staff software training. 

The fuel bid from Kwik Store was accepted.

Plans were approved for a silent auction of excess and out-of-date city equipment.

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