Waukon City Council hears restaurant proposal for former JCPenney/Tierney’s building, leaves trick-or-treat participation decision this year up to…

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met twice within a week this past week. A special session was held Tuesday, September 29 at the former JCPenney/Tierneys building in downtown Waukon and the councils regular session was held Monday, October 5 at Waukon City Hall. Coverage of both meetings is provided below.

SEPTEMBER 29 SPECIAL SESSIONThe council met in special session Tuesday, September 29 at the former JCPenney/Tierneys building in downtown Waukon, located at the stoplight intersection at 12 West Main Street, for a presentation by Arturo Barreda and Jose Velarde, both of Waukon, relating to a proposed restaurant at that location. Barreda and Velarde, owners of Fajitas Grill in Lansing and Fiesta Vallarta in Waukon, presented information and answered questions from the council relating to a proposed steakhouse restaurant at the former Tierneys location. Floor plan and concept drawings illustrated plans for the building with Barreda and Velarde providing an overview of the restaurant concept.

Director Ardie Kuhse of Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided feedback relating to a proposed grant application through Iowa Economic Developments Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program. Kuhse discussed the application process for this grant, which could potentially contribute up to $100,000 to the renovation of the former JCPenney/Tierneys building. Kuhse advised that the project meets seven of ten criteria requirements necessary for the grant application.

The proposal from Barreda and Velarde for the estimated $400,000 building remodel was divided into three funding sources, including the Catalyst Grant at $100,000, a contribution of $200,000 from the business owners and a $100,000 contribution from the City. From an economic development standpoint, the project was discussed as being advantageous to the City with the alternative of tearing down the building, dirt fill, concrete and repairs to the shared common wall with the adjacent building likely costing an estimated $150,000-$200,000 without the economic benefit of a destination restaurant at the location. The council was in agreement to further discuss and potentially take official action relating to the grant pre-application at the next council meeting, which was scheduled for Monday, October 5 and is covered below in this same article.

City Manager Gary Boden provided an update relating to the demolition contract for 105 First Street NW, the former McMillan property across the street from the Waukon Police Station, provided by Blake Excavating as low bidder. Boden suggested that the contract falls within his spending authority and discussed plans to proceed with Blake Excavating on this project.

Boden and the council also discussed options relating to the Waukon Wellness Centers heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Boden advised that a short-term repair option may allow the current HVAC system to operate another five to seven years with a more extensive long-term HVAC replacement being an option at a much greater cost.

Boden recommended moving forward with the short-term repair option in the $80,000-$100,000 range as a five- to seven-year repair with the complete HVAC replacement estimate in the $500,000 range as a long-term option. Boden advised that a short-term repair expense would be funded 50% by the City, 25% by the Allamakee Community School District and 25% funded by the Waukon Wellness Center. The council and Boden discussed ongoing HVAC cleaning and maintenance with council member John Ellingson adding that a maintenance position should be considered for maintaining City Hall and other City facilities.

The council moved into the Resolution approving the Official Financial Report for City Streets and Parking for July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, with the council approving the matter.

Prior to adjournment, the council discussed several miscellaneous matters. Council member Arvid Hatlan suggested that ATV/UTV use within the city should be discussed with speed being a safety concern on residential streets. Boden advised that there may be some short-term staffing concerns with the Waukon Police Department through the end of the year with additional part-time officers being an option.

Kuhse said that she has received questions from the public relating to plans for Halloween within the city. Kuhse mentioned the Trunk or Treat event will be taking place but a decision and announcement relating to trick or treating in residential areas may be advisable.OCTOBER 5 REGULAR SESSIONAfter the Monday, October 5 regular meeting of the Waukon City Council was called to order, Mayor Pat Stone read aloud the Buddy Poppies Proclamation which encourages individuals, businesses and organizations to support this fundraising campaign benefiting disabled veterans and the families of deceased veterans while honoring all veterans who have risked their lives defending our freedom. The Proclamation indicated the distribution of Buddy Poppies by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will take place Friday, October 16 in Waukon.

There was no Public Comment and the council moved into Department Reports with Street Superintendent Keith Burrett providing an update, first noting that he will be seeking additional bids from a contractor relating to chip sealing of streets next year. Burrett also discussed a recent spill from Aveka Nutra Processing resulting in 8,000 gallons of water entering the storm sewer and eight hours of labor with City Manager Gary Boden determining the cost to be assessed to Aveka. Stone and Burrett also discussed tree trimming on Third Avenue SW.

Director Cate St. Clair of Robey Memorial Library provided an update indicating that two custodians from TASC will be returning to work at the library following a precautionary quarantine. St. Clair advised that library staff is receiving a lot of technology questions from children relating to Zoom web-conferencing and online matters with school resuming. St. Clair added that the library has wireless internet available 24/7 which can be of assistance to students. St. Clair said that there has been an influx of Decorah area residents with that citys library remaining closed. St. Clair said that traditional childrens programming for October has been canceled but as an alternative, activities like Chalk the Walk are being offered and encouraged. St. Clair discussed the recent book sale as being a successful event bringing in over $250 in just two days. St. Clair also recognized the efforts of Neal Daley as a volunteer helping with gardening upkeep.

Park, Rec and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub discussed heating system repairs taking place at the Waukon Wellness Center with work also being done by an engineer relating to the heating system in the long term. Strub indicated that use of the Wellness Center has increased and that fall activities are underway.

Waukon Police Chief Paul Wagner reported that an employment offer has been made and that he likely will be able to provide the name of the new officer hire at the next council meeting. Wagner mentioned that the housing of stray dogs is an issue that will need to be discussed. Wagner also said that he recently received a couple of speed complaints relating to Third Avenue NW, which he said is one of the more frequently patrolled residential streets in Waukon.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper provided an update relating to the fish kill resulting from the July 20 yeast spill at Aveka. Cooper said he received an email from the DNR indicating that no monetary fine has been issued but enforcement actions are still under consideration. Cooper also provided an update about the Hidden Creek Lift Station, which he indicated is up and running, has fencing installed and the generator is functioning well. Cooper also discussed some concerns with the noise level of the generators exhaust system with council member Arvid Hatlan advising against any changes to the exhaust or addition of a muffler which may void the generators warranty.

Cooper also discussed the benefits of having a contractor perform leak detection which allowed a few leaks to be repaired and resulted in a noticeable water use reduction. Cooper thanked the Park and Rec Department for its assistance in grass mowing when his department was recently short-handed. He also provided an update relating to the new wastewater treatment facility with cement work being completed and the project progressing well.

Boden provided the City Managers Report and discussed two City employees returning to work following quarantine. Boden provided an update relating to a dead or dying tree between two properties on Second Avenue NW, with both property owners to be notified about costs associated with the tree removal by the City. Boden indicated that a proposal for grant writing services has been received and that a contractor will be at City Hall within the next few weeks to begin the process of upgrading the council chambers audio and video capabilities.

Stone provided the Mayors Report and discussed recent communications with Avekas CEO Willie Hendrickson. Stone said that Hendrickson will be part of the next council meeting via Zoom web-conferencing and will be providing a plan in writing in the next week to address concerns relating to spills and discharges into the storm sewer.

Council member John Ellingson provided the City Council Report and discussed recent email from a resident relating to the possibility of vacating a portion of property on Fourth Street SW. Ellingson discussed feedback he has received relating to ATV/UTV use with one positive comment and three complaints. Ellingson said that he has noticed some instances of ATV/UTV speeding on the street near his home. Ellingson noted that the Police Department is monitoring this issue in town and enforcing the posted speed limit with this being a public safety concern.

The Public Hearing for the Amendment of Fiscal-Year (FY) 2020-2021 City Budget for the City of Waukon was opened and closed with Finance Director Lana Snitker indicating that no verbal or written comments have been received. Two resolutions were individually reviewed and approved including the Resolution Approving the Amendment #1 of the FY 2020-2021 City Budget for the City of Waukon and the Resolution Accepting work covering the Proposed Tennis Court Project.

The council moved into the consideration of modifying three ordinances to match State Code updates. Each ordinance was individually reviewed with the second and third readings waived with adoption including Senate File (SF)457 increasing the minimum fine for City Code violations, SF 2268 increasing the minimum age for possession or use of any tobacco product and House File (HF)760 providing additional exemptions from the hotel/motel tax.

The council reviewed and approved claims including the Tennis Court Project Pay Application #4 and the Police Station Renovation Project Change Order #1, Pay Application #1 and Change Order #2.

Wagner provided an update relating to the Waukon Police Station Renovation Project and discussed a recent walk-through with the contractor. Wagner discussed the south windows, which have been removed and are being filled in, and concrete flooring that has been removed. Wagner advised that the garage door will be replaced due to its poor condition and needing to be slightly reconfigured to allow more space for insulation.

The council discussed setting a date and time for Halloween trick or treating. Concerns relating to COVID-19 were discussed with guidelines from the Iowa Department of Health and CDC being mentioned which advise against traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating. The council was in agreement that residents and parents should decide for themselves as to whether or not to accept this risk, to participate in giving out candy or to allow children to participate in trick-or-treating. Boden indicated that he will research what hours were used last year for trick-or-treating and make a decision and announcement administratively.

The council moved into the discussion of authorizing the pre-application for the Catalyst Grant for the former JCPenney/Tierneys building toured by the council last week. Council member Gayle Decker discussed concerns relating to the project with additional information being needed from the business owners including more information on renovation costs. Ellingson advised that the application should be approved to allow the pre-application to move forward in a timely manner with the council or business owners having the option to stop the application process at a later time. Ellingson said that with the building being vacant for quite some time, it would be a mistake for the City to not explore this opportunity. The council approved to move forward with the pre-application with Decker voting against the matter.

Boden addressed the next agenda item relating to Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) with the first matter involving the authorization for the owner-occupied rehabilitation program. Boden said that Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) will be administering these grants relating to the rehabilitation of several buildings. The council approved to have Boden proceed on this matter.

The second matter involved the authorization of an upper story redevelopment grant for properties at 504 and 506 West Main Street now owned by Daryl Hansmeier. The grant request relates to the upper story renovation of each building to create apartments. The council indicated that the structural integrity of the buildings should be determined prior to the City sponsoring this project. No action was taken.

The council moved into discussion of Fair Board related issues. The 28E agreement between the City and the Fair Board was addressed by the council. Allamakee County Fair Board President Tyler Plein discussed improvements that the Fair Board would like to make to the property including the sewer line from the Pavilion, which has had issues during the winter months. The Citys ownership of the fairgrounds was discussed with the Fair Board being responsible for the buildings. Plein and the council discussed the 28E agreement, which has expired, and will be reviewed and possibly adjusted to fit current needs. Plein also discussed the placement of signage that will promote the Allamakee County Fair and events to be held at the Pavilion.

Boden provided a status update on parking at the Good Samaritan Society in Waukon, noting that negotiations have stalled with their request to vacate some right of way, sidewalk and boulevard area to create additional parking. Good Samaritan Society-Waukon Administrator Cathy Taylor provided additional feedback and indicated that their request would be an improvement for the community, improve safety and create additional parking. Following discussion, the council agreed to have a committee comprised of a few council members view the proposed area with Taylor and provide a recommendation.

The council discussed ATV/UTV speed within city limits. Council member Arvid Hatlan indicated that he is not against ATV use but several speed complaints have been received with hard braking and tire squealing being issues at speeds above the posted 15 m.p.h. speed limit. Hatlan and Ellingson discussed enforcement of the speed limit for ATVs.

Prior to adjournment, Ellingson recommended that a maintenance position should be considered to aid in the upkeep and maintenance of all City facilities. Ellingson indicated that he was introducing this idea now for future budget-related discussions. Hatlan added that this proposed position could be part of several department budgets with the library and City Hall, among other City buildings, to benefit from a maintenance position.

Continued here:

Waukon City Council hears restaurant proposal for former JCPenney/Tierney's building, leaves trick-or-treat participation decision this year up to...

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