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City Council receptive to purchasing 808 N. Main St. property

By Kelly Terpstra,

Full steam ahead.

That was the overall positive feedback generated by the Charles City Council at Monday’s planning workshop about the potential to purchase property at 808 N. Main St. – the current location of Cal’s Auto Repair.

The council in November passed a resolution to approve a $2,000 option to purchase the property, which includes two buildings. The option to purchase runs out on Saturday, Feb. 22.

“I think it would be a good idea to continue moving forward and for the city to purchase that. That way we’d own that property. When we have to redirect Main Street – if and when that ever happens – we are in the position to do so,” said City Administrator Steve Diers.

Council members will vote on Tuesday at the next regular meeting to exercise that option to buy the property for $170,000.

The title holder of the property is listed as Calvin Shultz in city documents.

Initially the city was considering purchasing the property for the data center and head-end equipment for the $15 million broadband fiber-to-the-home project.

That all changed after the city bought the property across the street – what used to be The City Tap – for $190,000 last month.

The purchase of that property at 813 N. Main St. can be closed on or before April 1.

The Charles City Telecommunications Utility Board voted to purchase the 813 N. Main property, rather than the City Council. The city will still hold the deed to the property.

The 813 N. Main location would house Charles City Telecommunications Utility employees and equipment associated with the nerve center of the broadband utility.

Diers said telecom vehicles could also be parked at the 808 N. Main location.

“There’s a lot of positives as far as moving forward with the purchase,” he said.

The 813 N. Main purchase can be completed after the board votes on a $1 million loan agreement with the city. The utility board set a public hearing date of today (Tuesday) at 4 p.m. to hear public comments before action is taken on that agreement.

“This is what sets up basically your upfront interim financing that you’re going to be able to obtain from the city, more or less,” said Diers. “The funding agreement that will be put in place will be there to provide funding to cover the purchase of this property.”

Council members also discussed renewing a lease agreement with T-Mobile so it could use the Corporate Drive Water Tower for the location of a cell phone antenna.

This current proposal would be a renewed contract between the cell phone provider and the city for  five years for $1,600 a month. The first contract was agreed to in 2005 for $1,250 a month and lasted three months.

Council members were divided on whether or not the lease agreement should be for one year, five, 10, 15 or even 20 or 30 years.

Diers said City Attorney Brad Sloter will continue negotiations with T-Mobile.

New watershed coordinator Doug Johnson introduced himself to the council. He’ll oversee a sponsored water quality monitoring project in conjunction with the city and the Floyd County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Charles City was awarded close to $1 million for the sponsored project, to provide technical assistance to the Charles City Watershed Management Plan in the Upper Cedar Watershed.

Approximately $435,000 of federal grant money will be directed to staff a position to oversee the various watershed projects. Just over $500,000 of that total will be used for the urban and rural best management practices in and outside of the city.

Diers also broke down the general fund’s working budget for fiscal year 2021. Look for a more detailed look at that budget in the Charles City Press later this month.

A special meeting was held prior to the planning session where insurance agent Bob Ingram, with Sisson and Associates, presented the city with a dividend check of approximately $54,000.

The dividend is part of the Iowa Municipal Utilities Program and was written by EMC, a nationwide insurer used by many cities across the country, including Charles City.

The council unanimously approved the preliminary plans and set the public hearing date for the 2020 hot mix asphalt project for March 2. That undertaking will involve overlaying and reconstructing pavement on Clinton, Cedar, South Jackson and Second streets in town.

The project will remove and replace deteriorated curb and gutter along those streets, construct new storm sewers and intakes, as well as place a leveling surface to improve rideability on the overlay streets.

Two add alternates on the project are resurfacing a portion of the Charles City Public Library parking lot and a hot mix asphalt overlay on the Sportsmen’s Park tennis courts.