Marquette Council considers ordinance change for railroad building project

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

At its March 13 regular meeting, the Marquette Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would change the zoning classification for a portion of current Canadian Pacific Railroad property from A1 - limited agricultural to C1 - highway commercial. The change was recommended by the city’s planning and zoning commission, as not to create spot zoning in the area, which is located south of the railroad tracks and north of Bloody Run, not far from the Wetlands Centre.

“The railroad has shown interest in putting a building up on their own property,” said city clerk Bonnie Basemann, addressing why the change is needed. Permits for the project are still pending, she noted.

Councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald said the project is part of the railroad’s plans to make Marquette a central hub.

“They’re closing other facilities and bringing the vice president of the Midwest section right here,” added mayor Steve Weipert. 

As a result, train traffic will increase. Trains will also get longer, he said.

Councilwoman Cindy Halvorson wondered if the potential change would cause more blockages than the community already experiences.

“It’s not that I don’t want this,” she said. “I just want to limit congestion.”

Weipert said the changes would bring a full-time trainmaster to Marquette, who will regulate the traffic and serve as a local contact.

“We cannot stop blockages, but at least we can talk to the trainmaster,” he said.

On a side note, Weipert said his talks with the railroad about prolonged crossing blockages have yielded some positive results. For blockages longer than 20 minutes, he said the Iowa Department of Transportation, when notified, would be willing to flash a message across its sign warning drivers of the blockage. Drivers could then turn around and take an alternate route.

“I think the railroad has been very cooperative,” Weipert said.

Tree planting planned along Edgar Street

The council approved a proposed $4,000 tree-planting project along Edgar Street. Don Smalley, the head of the city’s tree board, said the group would like to plant around a dozen trees from the Depot Museum and Information Center to Pleasant Ridge Road. They hope to complete the project this spring.

Down the road, he said he’d like to work with other city committees in developing the area.

“There’s a potential there to do something other than trees,” such as improving the intersection with Pleasant Ridge Road or placing benches, he said. “We’d like to work with other committees so we don’t plant trees where a bench should be or a street should be.”

New buoys, anchors for river

The council agreed to purchase new no-wake buoys and anchors for the city’s stretch of Mississippi River. The new buoys will be taller and more cylindrical, preventing them from being pulled around as much, said public works director Jason Sullivan. The anchors will also keep the buoys in place better, by digging into the sand and sediment of the river bottom.

Depot Museum expansion engineering contract awarded

The council awarded the engineering contract for the Depot Museum expansion project to Martin Gardner Architecture, at a cost of $10,500. Martin Gardner is familiar with the project, having done the original museum building, as well as schematics for what the new addition would look like.

Budget adopted

The council adopted the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget, with an estimated tax levy rate of $6.78591 per $1,000 valuation on regular property.

Clean-up date set

The council set the city’s spring clean-up date as Saturday, April 28.

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