Monona city officials brainstorm 2023/2024 goals

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

A Nov. 7 special meeting helped Monona city officials brainstorm goals for 2023/2024.

 

With paving of the remaining gravel portions of the Butterfly Trail set for next year, city administrator Barb Collins said the city has already accomplished most of the previous goals.

 

“This is just to throw out some things, what you think we need to work on,” she told the council. “After we get this trail done, where do we go?”

 

Collins said facilities such as the library, city hall and community center are in good shape, although the latter could use a new stove. The parks, trails and swimming pool are doing well too.

 

“One of the things with our trail, once it’s done, our next part would be working with the library and [Butterfly Gardens and Trails Committee] doing educational things. They’re not just for walking—they’re for kids to learn,” Collins noted.

 

One addition the council would like to see is a dog park. There was also a request for more trees.

 

Council member Bridget Schlein even suggested a fund that could help provide trees to property owners, especially along Main Street where many trees were recently removed.

 

“So many trees are missing,” Collins agreed. “But can we require them to plant in their yard? If you want them, we will give you a tree and you can plant it in your yard. The majority of cities are going to that now because of the cost of cutting trees down.”

 

Another cultural and recreation topic mentioned was increased promotion of the Monona Historical Museum.

 

“It really is a treasure here in town,” said council member John Elledge.

 

Collins wondered if improved signage would help.

 

“When Iowa Economic Development came, they kind of made a comment about our wayfinding signs, that they’re too small,” she said.

 

The IEDA visit also yielded a suggestion to create incentives to improve downtown buildings, a concept Schlein asked if the city was going to pursue. No definitive action was taken on that, but one economic development item the city plans to tackle is the implementation of hotel/motel tax. According to Collins, it will be on the ballot for Monona voters to consider in 2023.

 

In the areas of emergency services, the council felt the fire department and ambulance were in good shape. Police chief Jo Amsden suggested several police department items, including more storage in the evidence room, increased wages, trading in another vehicle, less lethal guns and more cameras installed around town.

 

The latter prompted a lengthy discussion, in which the council weighed the merits of a city-organized effort to encourage property owners to purchase surveillance and security systems from companies like Ring or Blink.

 

“Ring does offer programs to some cities. Usually they’re very large cities because they want to make money off the subscriptions,” said council member Preston Landt. “I don’t think it would be a bad idea, whether it’s just encouraging people to do it or whether the city puts toward it.”

 

“I do think there’s been a lot of theft going on, so encouraging people to put up Ring doorbells or Blinks makes sense. It’s such a cheap solution and solves the problem,” he continued. “It’s about protecting your individual property. The police shouldn’t have to go track down a bunch of cameras to see if stuff at your house got stolen.”

 

Widespread use of security devices, if publicized, could also deter thefts, Landt noted.

 

“If you get some dirtbag who’s going to steal from houses, they’ll say ‘Let’s skip Monona and we’ll go someplace else,’” he commented.

 

Other topics addressed at the meeting were animal control—and what to do with animals caught at large in the community—as well as the potential sale of the Monona Airport now that the facility has just one airplane.

 

Infrastructure was also discussed, including additional downtown parking, residential sidewalk updates and street projects.

 

Elledge brought up sewer lines as a top concern.

 

A planned sewer lining project to address inflow and infiltration issues will hopefully help with that, said Collins.

 

“That’s already on our list,” she stated. “Once we get the sewer lining project done, we’ve done everything we can do. The next is homeowner things, taking a camera to everybody’s houses to see what their lines look like.”

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