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City Council reviews Clear Well project expenses and progress

By Travis Fischer,

The Charles City Council reviewed the progress on the Clear Well project, approved a bid to remove 200 more trees, and discussed billboards and parking lots during its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 2

At the meeting, Mayor Dean Andrews read a proclamation declaring October as International Alpha Delta Kappa Month in recognition of that organization’s contribution to teaching and support of women in education.

Third grade teacher Sandy Pleggenkuhle was there representing the local chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa to detail what the group is about and what members do in the community. The honorary sorority group, made up of women educators, has 34 members in Charles City and meets monthly to hear guest speakers and organize support for teachers and students in the district, such as collecting and distributing school supplies and sanitary products for students in need.

In regular business, Chris Diggins of NIACOG was at the meeting for a required public hearing on the status of the Clear Well project. Diggins ran the council through the expenses of the project thus far, through Pay Request No. 7, and detailed the work that is remaining.

“It seems that even though we had a couple of change orders we’re still tracking on schedule,” said council member Patrick Lumley.

In a related matter, the council approved Change Order No. 2 for the project, which asks for $19,291 and three additional calendar days to repair leaks discovered in the existing water main during the leak testing for the well.

After closing the public hearing, the council held a second hearing before approving the plans and awarding a bid for the second phase of the city’s 2023 Tree Removal Project.

GDB & Sons, which is currently working on the first phase of the project to take down roughly 300 trees in Charles City, came in with the low bid of $133,650 to do the next 200 by July 24.

The council approved the bid, anticipating that the contractor will be able to take advantage of the fact that it is already working within the city to take on the next phase of trees as it goes.

In other business, the council set a public hearing date for the proposed lease renewal for the 1007 Gilbert St. property where Tami Vetter currently has a billboard for her downtown business. The current 10-year lease agreement ends in March of 2024 and Vetter has inquired if the city is interested in a renewal. Though the billboard would be out of compliance with the recently revised city code, the council has informally agreed that directing people downtown is worth making an exception.

Because of the length of the lease agreement, a public hearing has been set for Oct. 16 to allow the public an opportunity to present feedback before voting on the renewal.

On the other end of Gilbert Street, the council discussed a second request for an extension of a waiver to the city’s parking lot regulations from Brandy and Santos Salinas for Salinas’ bar.

The Salinases opened the bar last fall on the property formerly owned by Casey’s. The council initially granted them a waiver in October to give them time to pave over the gravel portion of the parking lot left over from the Casey’s closure.

Coming up on the end of the waiver, Brandy Salinas asked the council for additional time during the Sept. 12 meeting, citing a miscommunication and misunderstanding of what was required of them. Salinas said then that they had made arrangements to have the parking lot paved, but that work has not yet been completed.

“They attempted to do it themselves and it did not go as planned,” said city engineer in training Brian Sullivan.

Under the waiver extension, the Salinases will have until March 1, 2024, to submit a signed contract to the city with a contractor to have the work completed by Sept. 15.

The council briefly debated the precedent of granting a second waiver, with council member Lumley expressing concern about the message it sends to other business, but ultimately agreed to allow the extension.

The next meeting of the council will be a workshop on Oct. 11, but the city will be hosting an informational open house on the Main Street Restoration project tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 5-7 p.m. at City Hall where downtown business owners, residents, or anybody else interested can ask questions about the project.

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