Marquette looks to crack down on nuisances

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The city of Marquette is hoping to crack down on nuisance properties in the community. 

“We’ve received a lot of complaints about yards and houses that don’t look good,” said mayor Steve Weipert at the April 9 council meeting. “We’re trying to figure out a way to handle the situation.” 

“We’ve sent out some letters—some for trash and some for junk vehicles,” added city clerk Bonnie Basemann, but the notices have produced few results. 

Now, Weipert is proposing sending an initial nuisance abatement notice to individuals, then fining them if they fail to comply. 

“I’m asking for the backing of the council, otherwise it will be pretty hard to enforce,” he said. “Most people in town are our friends, and we’re going to be stepping on some toes.” 

Councilwoman Eleanor Soulli questioned if there are really that many nuisance properties. 

“There are three or four I can think of,” answered councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald. 

Councilman John Ries said he is more concerned about abandoned properties because there’s more of a hazard to community members. Without an occupant present, it’s also harder to deal with the problem. 

City attorney Jeffrey Swartz said enforcing nuisance laws is always a touchy issue. What constitutes a nuisance can be subjective. It depends on how large the issue is, he noted, “and some people’s junk is another’s treasure.” 

Swartz suggested posting a notice to residents advising them on what is and is not allowed and that the city will begin enforcing nuisances. Then people cannot say they weren’t notified of the city’s intent. 

Councilman Ryan Young agreed and said the city should create a uniform notice that is sent out. Ries said the city should also notify and encourage people to participate in the spring clean-up day on Saturday, May 4, from 8 to 11 a.m. 

Vavra shares plans for marina 

Robert Vavra presented the council with what he called a three- to five-year plan for the Marquette marina. 

“I’ve got my first year under belt, and working with the city and [public works director] Jason [Sullivan] has been good. I’ve rebuilt some of the marina,” Vavra said. “But I think it needs some more services, that the town needs more services.” 

The improvements include additional slips and updated walkways, electrical upgrades and a new building with seating. 

“That would allow people to come off the walkway into an enclosed environment,” he explained. 

When one load of people comes off his Maiden Voyage tour boat, there’s often another group waiting. Right now, there’s not much room for them, Vavra added. 

The building would also allow him to offer more marine supplies, as well as hats and shirts. There could be actual toilets and a shower unit. 

“This would definitely offer more services for transient boaters up and down the river,” Vavra said. 

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