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Beautification committee seeks city support for new park

By JIM MAGDEFRAU

While supporting the project, the Belle Plaine City Council Monday had concerns about finding money for a new city park on the south side of the community.

The council, in its work session, discussed contributing to the purchase land for Beautiful Plains Park. Making the request was the Belle Plaine Partners for Beautification, who is applying for a grant through the REAP program. Carol Petersen of the beautification group said they are looking to buy 8.5 acres from the James Pech family. Though it does not require matching funds, REAP officials like to see funds from the city and other groups. She said the Pechs would like to give them first choice on the land. They are also seeking support from other groups in the community. “We feel that it’s a good project. We feel it’s really going to enhance the city,” Petersen said. The first step is buying the land, she stressed, which is why they are seeking help from the city.

Committee member Gene Severson added there are others interested in the land. “We feel this is one time to get a hold of it,” he said.

Council member Harold Ealy was in support of the plan. “The problem is, where do you find the money?” he observed.

Petersen said the committee is looking for between $5,000 and $10,000. The REAP application is due Aug. 15.

Council member Marv DeRycke also supported the project. He said, “Right now the city has over 30 acres of park, and for a town of 2,700 people, that’s a lot of park.” He was concerned about maintaining it. However, he said the council could give a contribution over several years.

Committee member Judy Schlesselman said this is nothing like any other park in Belle Plaine, but a restoration of a natural prairie. “It wouldn’t be Franklin Park No. 2,” she said, in terms of maintenance. She stressed it would be a unique park. Committee member Marvin Kucera pointed out the educational aspects of the park. Committee member Vicki Schwab told of the outreach that could be done with several groups in Benton County, including the county’s naturalist. It could also serve as a trailhead for an eventual trail leading to the Iowa River.

Other business

There were no objectors at a hearing to enter into a loan agreement not to exceed $450,000. Proposals have come from MidWestOne Bank and Chelsea Savings Bank, to be paid with pledges of funds donated to the city. The money would help pay for the aquatic center. The city has over $500,000 in pledges so far.

The council approved an engineering service agreement with Clapsaddle-Garber Associates Inc. for a snow removal equipment storage building at the Belle Plaine Municipal Airport. Also related to the project, the council approved an application for Federal Aviation Funding Assistance for the design of the building.

A payment of $29,427.83 was approved to Denver Underground for work on the 2009 Sanitary Storm and Sewer Improvement Project.

Transfers of $7,000 and $9,000 were approved from the LOSST fund to the Capital Fund.

The first reading of an ordinance was approved regarding wind energy systems.

An agreement was approved with the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s Brownfield Project. The state awarded Belle Plaine a $250,000 forgivable loan. It pays for the cleanup and demolition of property on 12th Street.

The council approved the Fourth of July Committee’s request to close 12th Street between Seventh and Ninth Avenue for the car show and street dance on July 3, beginning at 3 p.m., with the understanding that tire “burnouts” after the car show are eliminated.

A payment of $214,709.50 was approved to Garling Construction for the aquatic center, and a payment of $2,828.63 to Mechanical Inc.

The resignation of Joel Formanek as parks and recreation director was accepted. His last day is June 25. The board approved hiring Kyle Spading as the new director, as recommended by the park board. Spading said he looks forward to it and it will be fun.

Reports

Police Chief Kris Hudson gave the monthly report on the police department. Police car bids have arrived and will be dealt with at the next meeting. The department is advertising for a new officer to replace Officer Shine, who is expected to resign.

Jeanne Duffy, director of the Belle Plaine Community Development Corporation, gave her monthly report. She said they are working on plaques that give the history of buildings on main street. They are working on post cards. She is working on a grant for an energy audit on downtown buildings. Duffy updated the council on the Lincoln Café. Brandon Kienitz of the promotions committee said they would have a booth and flyers at the July 4 celebration. The Christmas schedule is being set. On Aug. 5-7 a traveling flea market takes place on the Lincoln Highway.

City Administrator Daily gave an update on the storm sewer project. The Ninth Avenue project is progressing, Daily said.

The downtown revitalization update was given by Daily. Two grant applications were applied for last week for $2 million on the façade and streetscape projects through I-Jobs. He hopes to know how the applications stand by July 1. He felt it was a good indication that Belle Plaine was invited to apply. “Hopefully it will work out and we can move on that,” Daily said.

As for the vacancy for third ward council seat, there have been no applicants yet. The appointment is scheduled for July 6.

The aquatic center is still operating well, Daily reported.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, July 6 at 6 p.m. The next work session is July 19 at 5 p.m.

Work session

The council held a work session prior to its regular meeting.

The council discussed the removal of a healthy tree on the parking in the city. If there is a concern about a tree, it goes to a tree committee. Bill Daily said there was a concern about sidewalk interference with the tree in question. However, this didn’t come before the committee before it was a removed. There was also a debate about the impact of bird droppings and health issues. Mayor James Daily stressed he wanted to see a policy so all are treated the same.

Proposed ordinances were discussed on regulation of outdoor activities. Police Chief Hudson suggested having a written application, with a provision on providing security of alcohol is served. City Attorney Jennifer Zahradnik brought two sample ordinances. There was debate on the standards for providing security, how it applies to the July 4 celebration, and the security costs for volunteer organizations. The council said they’d review the sample policies.

An ordinance was discussed establishing a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in the downtown area. Bill Daily said they looked at this in 2006 when they put the community in an urban renewal district. Now the city expects to see some increase in value for the property in the main street district. He added there is no guarantee that there will be an increment or change in valuation. Main Street Iowa recommended it, Daily said. The first reading was approved later in the meeting. Zahradnik added it allows the city to retire the debt quicker.

They also discussed the airport lease agreement, containment system, and costs to clean up contamination. The city administrator will send a letter to the airport manager and the engineer for the system.

 

UPDATED June 22, 2010 11:20 PM

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