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Belle Plaine hopes for more easements

Belle Plaine council also approves improvements to medical center

By JIM MAGDEFRAU Star Press Union editor

Belle Plaine City Administrator Bill Daily said work is progressing at the aquatic center.

He also spoke on the streetscape/façade master plan at the city council meeting Monday night at the city hall.

Despite the rain, all of the concrete should be poured buy the end of the month. “It really is starting to take shape,” he said of the aquatic center.

He reported that the public information meeting on the façade master plan held last week had about 42 attending. He relayed there were mixed reviews, with some on board, and some not. He wants to meet with the main street businesses again next week to pin it down and move forward with the final touches for the Community Development Block Grant Application. The city is applying for $500,000 of block grant funds. To use those funds, the city needs temporary easements to buildings on main street of five to seven years, allowing the city to make improvements on those buildings. The city has committed $150,000 to the façade plan as part of its $2 million streetscape plan. The success in getting the grant depends on the number of easements the city has.

“Everybody is apprehensive,” he said of the feedback on the proposed easements. “It seems too good to be true. We’re just going to keep moving forward. It’s a unique opportunity for our downtown businesses. All we can do is make it available to them and if they don’t’ want to take advantage of it, that will be their choice.”

He said he thinks there are 10 on board now.

City Attorney Larry Schlue added the easement is a small price for owners to pay for having a façade built for nothing.

Daily stressed, “It in no way conveys ownership on any of the properties.”

 “We’re going to plug away at it again next week, and see what we come up with, then hopefully go with the application. Hopefully, we will qualify,” Daily said.

Details on the informational meeting are in a separate story on page 1.

Medical center

Several construction contracts were approved for remodeling work at the Belle Plaine Medical Center. The work is divided into three phases, and was awarded to Garling Construction. The first phase is for $31,708. The second is $28,514.95, and the third is $29,611.12. The city owns the building and leases it to Iowa Health Physicians. The money will come from the medical building fund.

Council member Marv DeRycke was concerned that this would deplete the account. City administrator Bill Daily said they are one of the few city operations that cash flows. “They are very much aware of how much money they have and how they spend it,” said Daily of the board. DeRycke also felt the proposed $1,100 a month rent was too low.

Council member Harold Ealy said he agreed up to a point about the rent, but added the city needs to give a little something to keep doctors in town. Daily pointed out the center covers its utilities.

Other business

- Temporary easements were approved for sanitary sewer project along 13th Ave. Easements were arranged with Craig and Julie Mantz, and Chester Fredericks.

- A change order was approved for $3,632.50 with Dave Schmitt Construction, for additional seal-coating and manhole plug removal on the Williams Park area storm sewer project. An additional change order was approved for $9,203.13.

- Bev Winkie and Dean Carl of the Belle Plaine Historical Society gave an update on the new mural at the Belle Plaine Area Museum. Winkie thanked the council for helping to make the mural become a reality. She asked for more help with lights for the mural, at an estimated price of $5,000. Carl said it would probably need three to four halogen lights, hooked into a nearby light pole. They wanted to have the city purchase the lights and pay for the light bill. The matter will be on the council’s Nov. 16 agenda for the committee of the whole.

- The council considered the disposition of the alley west of the Longfellow School. It had been closed during construction at the nearby school. Ealy suggested this be tabled since council member Craig Van Scoyoc, who had put it on the agenda, was on vacation. Resident Bob Spading said he wanted to see the alley remain closed this winter during construction.

DeRycke agreed that the city should stay with the closure for safety reason. The matter was tabled until the next meeting.

UPDATED November 4, 2009 12:28 PM

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