Council views corridor project, okays asphalt street improvements

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 12 reviewed the proposed Schiller Street Corridor, approved asphalt street paving projects,  and okayed a wording change in the garbage ordinance that will affect the monthly rate for some customers.

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

Schiller Street project

The council heard a presentation by Ryan Peterson of RDG Engineering, Dubuque, a planning and design firm hired by the city to prepare a "vision plan" for a proposed Schiller Street Corridor that would encourage travelers on Highway 52 to use that street as an entrance to the downtown business district. 

Peterson said the plan was designed to connect people to the downtown district and the river. He noted that approximately 5,000 cars travel the highway each day and if a small percentage could be encouraged to enter the community, it would provide an economic benefit to local businesses. A committee reviewed design concept themes that were based on the river, limestone and eagles.

The project would include new sidewalks, adding trees, updating the lighting, adding changeable banners, and installing a median strip on the street to the west of the railroad tracks. The corridor would culminate in what Peterson termed the "wow factor" — a limestone fountain and view of the Mississippi River at the eastern end of Schiller Street.   

Peterson reviewed conceptual cost options, which he estimated in the $1.2-$1.8 million range for the entire project. City Manager Denise Schneider said the vision plan has already been used to apply for grant funds; if grants are awarded, the council would make final design decisions and the project would be split into phases.  

Street improvements

The council approved Kluesner Construction's bid for asphalt street work this season. Areas scheduled for improvements are North Fifth Street (Kosciusko to Cincinnati Streets), Lafayette Street (Second to Third Streets), First Street (Haydn to China), Mozart Street (River Park Drive to Third) and Second Street (Pryam to Regent).

Garbage rates

The city's current garbage rate schedule provides a lower rate for senior citizens. The city manager said that rates based on age are considered discriminatory. The council followed her recommendation to change the wording in the garbage ordinance from "regular" and "senior" to "family" and "individual" rates. The change means that single-person households will be charged the reduced rate (50 cents less per month) regardless of age, and that senior citizen households with more than one resident will be charged the family rate.

Property requests

Realtor Gary Willman, representing Steve Hansel, was on hand to make an offer on a parcel of city property adjacent to the campground on Miner's Creek. The council decided to accept  an offer of $8,500 plus costs, and also decided to move forward on a request to purchase a second adjacent parcel.  

Jack Benskin made a request to purchase a portion of a vacated city alley near his property on Bluff Street. On a 4-1 split vote, with Saeugling voting nay, the council voted to move forward on his offer of $4,000 plus fees and to waive the appraisal policy. 

A request from Rick Jensen to purchase a parcel of city property was postponed at his request.

Freedom Rock

Nancy McClellan and Stan Blair received council approval for city sponsorship of a grant application to the Upper Mississippi Gaming Commission for funds to provide a sidewalk and other amenities at the Freedom Rock site at Horseshoe Pond. 

Other business

Marina manager Jim Zerbe discussed overnight stays at the city's courtesy transient docks at the south municipal marina. After discussion, the council voted to charge a $20 overnight fee with regulations on boat size and hours.

The council recommended the purchase of new iPads, cases and screen protectors for council use. 

The mayor commented on the recent visit by city officials from Guttenberg, N.J., thanking Mandy Ludovissy from the Guttenberg Chamber, Guttenberg Rotary Club members, and councilmember Austin Greve for taking part and expressing disappointment that more council members didn't participate. "We made a good impression as a city, they were pleased with the friendliness and are planning to come back in two years," he said. "They have asked us to be their guests next year."

Janette Hansel and Elizabeth Mescher were appointed to six-year terms on the library board.

The council approved the city's annual insurance renewal with Degnan Green Insurance.

Joe's Pizza requested  IDOT Trailerblazer business signs on Highway 52 and on Schiller Street. The IDOT makes the decison on the highway sign, but city approval is needed for the Schiller Street sign. The council voted to deny the request in light of the proposed Schiller Street Corridor project and also since off-premise business signs are not allowed. It was noted that the business could add a sign to others displayed at east end of Schiller Street. 

Police Chief George Morteo said he is interviewing five applicants for reserve officers and that he has the authority to hire three. Councilmember Schaub asked that an item be placed on next month's agenda allowing the Chief to hire five reserves.

The city attorney explained that annual Iowa legislative changes often requires updating of city code and the council approved the changes. The council also passed four resolutions adopting changes in order to be eligible for state and federal grants.

The city manager said she is awaiting agency responses on dredging the highway ponds. She asked for council input on legislative priorities, and also noted that recent legislative action will change the timeline for developing a city budget. 

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