Council awards contract for pool; discusses food trucks

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By Shelia Tomkins

At a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 27, the Guttenberg city council accepted the low bid for the Guttenberg pool project and approved final plans for the project which is expected to begin this fall.

  Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling and Jane Parker through the agenda. City Manager Denise Schneider and  City Attorney Michael Schuster were also present.

Pool bids

The council okayed final plans for the pool and awarded the contract to Portzen Construction of Dubuque with a base bid totalling $3,415,400. Two other companies submitted bids.

There were no comments made at the public hearing that preceded  the consideration of bids. Roger Schamberger of Burbach Aquatics,  the consulting firm handling the project, was present to briefly explain final plans. Several members of the Wave of the Future committee were also present to answer any questions. Performance contracts will be reviewed prior to the $2.8 million bond sale on Sept. 10. 

Food trucks

Four owners of eating establishments in the downtown area were on hand as the council again reviewed its ordinance regarding mobile food vendors.

Possibilities raised by council members Parker and Saeugling included modifying the current ordinance to limit the number of food trucks unless there is a festival, having a sign-up calendar,  and having a fee schedule that makes mobile vendors competitive with local businesses.

"We only have a few months to make money, and you want to let them come in and take the cream off the top," said business owner Richard Dlouhy. "It is tough — almost impossible — to maintain the whole winter."

Sara Pattison noted, "There is a lot of traffic on Highway 52. If you are trying to tap into the food truck culture, make them come up to main street." She suggested that  the council "be careful about who you allow" and that rules be established for the mobile vendors.

Mike Hefel told the council, "I think it should be very carefully considered IF they should be allowed — not where, not how, not why — and the businesses here should be playing on a level field...It's more than just about the restaurants, it's about the downtown businesses, all of them. It is about the plan and how the city wants to proceed and make something better of the downtown." He expressed a preference to allow no food trucks except for special events.

Business owner Jane Augustyn noted that there are 19 establishments selling food in the city.

Council member Jane Parker said, "I want to thank you all for coming. It's not easy. A couple years ago there was a big push to be a Main Street Iowa designation, and when all those stores are empty, what are you going to do to draw them up there? On the highway, they are in and out."

Mayor Frommelt noted the dilemma faced by the council. "Businesses want no competition to survive," he said, "and customers want variety." 

Motel owner Patty Schwarz said that her business faces a similar situation from local people who open their homes to lodgers. "I don't think there is any guarantee for any of us," she said. 

The city has thus far only granted only one food vendor license and that license will expire Jan. 1. The council took no action at Monday night's meeting and tabled the matter for further consideration.  

Other business

At council direction, the city attorney will prepare documents for an easement request from Ken Deutmeyer regarding property adjoining the industrial park. 

The council also approved a motion to proceed with a property purchase request from Twin Towers and heard a related request from an adjacent property owner. 

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