September 8, 2020 Minutes

The semi-monthly meeting of the City Council of Walcott, Iowa, was held on Tuesday, the 8th day of September, 2020, at Walcott City Hall. Mayor John Kostichek called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Council members present were: Everett Bieri, Lisa Mengler, Jacob Puck, and Larry Smith. Brockmann participated via phone following approval of the consent agenda. City staff present were Jeff Blake, Jackie Huston, Lisa Rickertsen, and Paul Stagg. Due to COVID-19, call-in information was provided to the public on the meeting agenda notice.

Approval of Agenda. Puck moved and Mengler seconded to approve the agenda. Motion carried.

Consent Agenda. Mengler moved and Bieri seconded to approve the consent agenda including the invoices, minutes from August 17, 2020, and Resolution 2020-22 Approving Applications for Residential Tax Abatement within the 2017 Urban Revitalization Area. Roll call ayes: Mengler, Bieri, Smith, and Puck. Motion carried.

Hearts & Hands Foundation – Austin Burt & Brent Puck – Wescott Park Enhancement Project. Burt presented information from the Hearts and Hands Foundation regarding the proposed fencing and concrete project at Wescott Park. The work includes labor, equipment, and materials for new infield fencing (the backstop, dugouts, and partial sidelines) and a concrete bleacher pad area. The fence/diamond would move inwards 10 feet to the north and 10 feet to the west. Burt stated they have secured funding commitments, scheduled volunteers to remove the existing fence on September 12th, and anticipate project completion by the end of October. Mengler expressed thanks and appreciation to the Hearts & Hands Foundation and to all organizations for their contributions towards the project. Smith moved and Mengler seconded to approve the Wescott Park Enhancement Project as presented, and as recommended by the Park Board. Motion carried.

Code Amendment Request for Decks in Rear Yard Setbacks. Huston reported on a variance request from Michael and Marie Tharp to encroach 8 feet upon the rear yard setback for an attached deck with pergola. The Building Official noticed a deck was being built at Tharp’s without a permit and a variance was necessary to continue construction due to the rear yard setback. Huston reported the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) denied the variance due to the lack of property hardship but ZBA suggested they request the City Council consider a code change allowing decks to extend into the rear yard setback. Huston stated that extending uncovered decks into the rear yard setbacks is common in surrounding communities, but most communities consider pergolas to be a covering. Michael & Marie Tharp requested changing the code to allow decks to extend ten feet into the rear yard setback and allow it to be covered with a pergola. Smith stated he doesn’t feel a pergola should be considered a covering and suggested defining it as non-covered in the code. Council expressed support allowing the changes as suggested. Mengler moved and Puck seconded to send the issue to the Planning and Zoning Commission for their recommendation. Motion carried with Brockmann abstaining (due to phone system technical difficulties). The code changes are in the zoning chapter which requires the Planning & Zoning Commission to hold a public hearing which will be scheduled for October 12th.

Parking Lot Improvements Project. Complaints were discussed regarding the parking lot improvements project workmanship. City Engineer, Jason Holdorf, stated they have documentation of project quality and there is a four-year maintenance bond on file. Mengler reported noticing debris mixed with the dirt located in the right-of-way along Main Street. Following discussion, Puck moved and Bieri seconded to approve payment #1 to Aero Concrete, LTD for $72,923.75. Motion carried.

Visit Quad Cities Annual Contribution. Smith moved and Mengler seconded to contribute $1,000 to Visit Quad Cities, as budgeted. Motion carried.

Storm Damage – ROW and Parks Tree Trimming /Removal. Stagg reported on bids received for storm damaged trees at the parks and on city right-of-ways. Mengler moved and Puck seconded to approve the low bid from Turkle’s Tree Service, Inc. for $10,985. Motion carried.

Resolution 2020-23, Requesting Reimbursement from the Iowa COVID-19 Government Relief Fund. Rickertsen provided information regarding funds available to local governments for expenses incurred in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Mengler moved and Bieri seconded to approve Resolution 2020-23. Roll call ayes:  Mengler, Bieri, Smith, Puck, and Brockmann.  Motion carried.

Ordinance 514-20, Amending Chapter 99 Regarding Sewer Rates. Bieri moved and Puck seconded to approve the third reading of Ordinance 514-20. Roll call ayes: Bieri, Puck, Smith, Mengler, and Brockmann. Motion carried. Effective with the October 1, 2020 billing the minimum bill will increase by $.09 to $19.25 per month. The usage rate of $6.33 per 1,000 gallons of water used per month for all usage over 1,400 gallons will remain unchanged.

Public Works Department Report.

  • Property Land Swap. Stagg presented information, including estimated legal costs, on a land exchange. He reported that there are sewer lines located on private property, which the City is mowing and is adjacent to a small section of city-owned property that the adjoining property owner is farming. Stagg recommended to exchange land with the adjoining property owner, moving the property boundary to follow the creek. Brockmann stated it has been this way for many years and he didn’t feel it was worth the City spending money on it. The land exchange is also necessary for the future recreational trail extension. Mengler moved and Smith seconded to pursue working with the property owner and City Attorney on a land exchange as presented. Motion carried with Brockmann opposing.
  • City Dumpster behind Public Works. Stagg presented several photos from various dates of the city dumpster behind the public works department building that shows the unsightly public disposal of garbage that is occurring around the city dumpster. Stagg reported the contractor won’t empty it if there is refuse piled in front of it and reported on people dumping construction debris next to the building. His proposal is to purchase a locking dumpster, install cameras, and post signs that say no illegal dumping. Instead of allowing the public to access the dumpster, residents can call City Hall to schedule bulky waste or extra garbage collection for additional fees. Smith moved and Puck seconded to approve Stagg’s proposal and purchase a locking dumpster. Motion carried.

Mayor’s Report. Mayor Kostichek thanked the Hearts and Hands Foundation for their work on the Wescott Park enhancement project and to all who cleaned up following the storm on August 10th.

Council Member Comments. Smith also thanked the Hearts and Hands Foundation members and Mengler questioned the status of repairs at Victory Park. Stagg responded that the trees were the biggest safety concerns and he is still waiting for additional bids on the roof, electrical, and fence, which he hopes to have for the next meeting

Smith moved and Puck seconded to adjourn at 7:04 p.m. Motion carried. All votes on motions were unanimous, unless noted.