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Marengo Council will approve reserve officers

By NICK NARIGON

Marengo City Council will begin a process of approving the members of the city’s reserve police force.

Marengo City Council passed a resolution May 10 stating that over the years numerous officers have served in full-time and part-time capacity for the city. The historical practice has been to allow the chief of police to use any of those officers as reserve officers.

The resolution states the system has created a situation where it is difficult for the mayor and the city council to control the number of reserve officers, assure the reserve officers are properly trained and approve the service of such members.

“There is not a great grasp of who is and who is not approved to work for the City of Marengo,” said city attorney Eric Tindal. “I think everybody agrees we need to start somewhere in an organized and responsible fashion.”

The resolution states that reserve officers need to be re-approved by the city council every two years.

The resolution passed May 10 initially requested two new reserve officers be approved for hire: Paul Fitzpatrick and John Smith.

Marengo Police Chief Galen Moser requested the council also approve the service of Doug East and Mark Vogt as reserve officers.

Council member Kelli Krutsinger said she was not comfortable making that decision at the May 10 meeting.

Council approved the resolution with a vote of 4-1, with Krutsinger voting in opposition.

Any other reserve officers Moser wishes to hire will first be approved by the personnel committee and Mayor Joe Seye before being brought before city council for approval.

DOWNTOWN STREETSCAPE

Marengo City Council approved two change orders May 10 for phase II of the downtown streetscape project.

The council approved a $21,000 reduction in expenses. The project contractor, Con-Struct, removed the bricks from the street and will retain ownership of the bricks that are not used on phase II or for surplus.

The city will retain ownership of approximately 75,000 bricks to account for the coverage of 8,500 square feet of surface area incorporated in the project and for maintenance.

The Marengo City Council also approved a change order increasing the cost of the project by $12,580. The city will install a new electrical system within the park to feet the park lights and a new in ground box with circuits and receptacles.

Marengo City Administrator Brent Nelson noted the current underground electrical system is not very good, and sections of the lights will go out at the same time.

“It is kind of a hodgepodge electrical system,” he said.

He also said that after each Third of July celebration, the city spends $400 to $500 fixing the electrical system. The new electrical system will also eliminate the need to bring in a generator for larger events, Nelson said.

URBAN RENEWAL AGREEMENT

Marengo City Council will hold a public hearing June 14 whether to amend the city’s urban renewal agreement to include the city’s sewer lagoon area.

By including the lagoon in the urban renewal area, the city will be able to us tax increment financing (TIF) money to pay for repairs and upgrades to the lagoon system, said city administrator Nelson.

The city is currently running at a deficit in the sewer account and the city plans a project to put slip lining inside the deteriorating pipes at the lagoon, Nelson said. He said raising sewer rates will not save the city from the problems they are facing now at the lagoon.

Former Marengo City Council member Candi Schmieder asked if there is money in the city’s TIF account to pay for repairs at the lagoon. She said the city plans to use TIF money to also help pay for construction of the downtown streetscape project.

Nelson said the city has an exorbitant amount of money in the TIF fund, including a $184,000 CD. He said the streetscape project will be paid for using a combination of TIF and local option sales tax funding.

“I kind of look at this as an emergency situation. If the money is there to spend, it is something to look at,” Nelson said. “A lot of cities are doing this because they are in the same situation we are.”

Prior to the public hearing, the proposed amendment must first go before the city planning and zoning commission for review so the commission can make a recommendation to the council. Also, a consultation session must be set up with the local county, school district and community college.

TENNIS COURTS

Marengo City Council approved a new bid from L.L. Pelling to construct the new tennis court and basketball court for $76,156.50.

Nelson said the project has been scaled down from the original plans.

The city sold the former courts to Marengo Memorial Hospital for $110,000 three years ago. The city originally planned to build two tennis courts and a basketball court at Lion’s Park. However, once preparation began for the project began, it was determined the area was too wet.

The city purchased the property located next to city hall on Court Avenue and have since torn down the house and are preparing construction of the courts.

Since the project started, Nelson said the city has spent approximately $50,000 of the original budget of $110,000.

The new plans submitted to L.L. Pelling reduce the project from two tennis courts to one tennis court.

Nelson said the new basketball court will be regulation size and will actually be bigger than originally planned.

He noted that the charge to apply an acrylic surface system to the new courts will be $15,196.50. He said if the city applied an acrylic surface to the tennis court only, it would save the city nearly $7,300. The basketball court would then be pure asphalt, he said.

The acrylic surface protects the surface and increases its longevity and reduces the amount of repainting and repairs, he said.

Council member Mike Curry said he thinks both courts should have the acrylic surface.

The council unanimously approved L.L. Pelling’s full bid of $76,156.50.

Nelson said the cost overrun of approximately $16,000 will have to come out of the city’s general fund. One possibility is the city may be able to cover the cost through the sale of bricks from the streetscape project.

“It is not possible to be under $110,000, but I think we knew that when we changed sites,” Nelson said.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Nelson said last year the council agreed to be part of the Iowa County Economic Development Commission (ICEDC) and appointed two commissioners and an alternate to sit on the board.

At the time, the city did not commit any funding to ICEDC, and at this time the commission is requesting funding from cities.

Nelson noted ICEDC has hired an interim director who has developed a presence for Marengo on economic development Web sites and will be making calls on local businesses in the near future to determine their needs.

He said the Iowa County Supervisors have appropriated $25,000 toward the ICEDC, the City of Parnell will fund $1 per citizen and Amana Society, Inc., agreed to contribute $1,000 to ICEDC.

Nelson said the ICEDC is requesting the City of Marengo donate $1 per capita, based on the estimated census count of 2008. The population of Marengo was estimated at 2,522 in 2008.

Council member Bill Kreis said he views the economic development commission as a positive partnership for the city.

The council unanimously approved contributing $2,522 toward ICEDC.

KIDS AT THE COURTHOUSE

Julie Ryan, owner of The Ladies Room and the mother of a teenager, said she was concerned about the city chasing teenagers away from hanging out in front of the courthouse at night.

“I am concerned we are shoving them out of a well-lit, sequestered part of town, and into places without adult supervision,” Ryan said. “They need someplace to go. These are our kids we are kicking to the curb.”

At the April 12 Marengo City Council meeting, council members asked Marengo Police Chief Galen Moser to increase patrol at the area and not allow kids to hang out in front of the courthouse.

Moser said officers are driving through the area and asking people to leave. He added that the issue wouldn’t be a problem if the kids were respectful to other drivers, the neighbors and the property.

Council member Brian Imhoff said the kids outside the courthouse created litter, vandalism and even started fires.

POOL MANAGERS

Marengo City Council hired Adam and Jamie Lillie to be pool managers for the 2010 season. Nelson said the city advertised the position, but no one responded. He said Jamie Lillie, a current city council member, stepped forward to take on the duties.

The tentative opening date for the city pool is May 29.

UPDATED May 18, 2010 12:40 PM

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