The continuing, nettlesome saga of who, what, when, and where to park vehicles on congested Webster Street reared its ugly head again at the Sept. 9th Cherokee City Council Meeting.
After resolving the volatile issue and approving first reading of an ordinance prohibiting parking on the east side of Webster Street on a 4-1 vote at its meeting August 26, Tuesday night the Council deadlocked 2-2 on the second reading after some upset residents re-visited the issue during the Public Forum portion of the meeting.
On August 26, Council members Linda Burkhart, Jim Peck, Bob Leach, and Greg Stieneke voted for the proposed new ordinance's first reading, with Mick Mallory voting "no." Tuesday night Leach was absent and Burkhart and Peck voted for the second reading of the ordinance, with Mallory again voting "no," and Stieneke doing an about-face and also voting "no."
When contacted by the Chronicle Times Wednesday and asked about his change of heart, Stieneke said, "I made a mistake (Tuesday night). I thought about it all night and all Wednesday morning and realize that I made a mistake. I got caught up in the emotion of this thing."
Stieneke said he would vote for the ordinance at the next Council meeting "because it is the fairest solution to a serious neighborhood problem."
With the 2-2 vote, the ordinances second reading was tabled until next meeting when Leach will be present to vote. According to Iowa Code and against popular opinion, the Mayor, Pam Pierce, cannot vote to break ties, as the Mayor is not a member of the Council and can't vote as a member of the Council.
On a 3-1 vote Tuesday night, the Council approved first reading of a companion ordinance establishing a stop sign on Webster Street for southbound traffic to stop at Magnetic Avenue. Mallory voted against the measure.
Carried over with no resolution from past years and previous meetings, the Webster Street issue has become a hot button for many residents on Webster and Magnetic Streets, with heavy daily traffic from the Early Childhood Learning Center and Bright Beginnings Day Care facility housed in the former Webster School building on North Roosevelt Street only compounding the issue. Webster Street being just 20-foot wide also adds to the problem.
The Council had reviewed the situation in April 2005 regarding parking on Webster Street between Magnetic and Sumner Streets. At that time, an ordinance was adopted to eliminate parking on Webster Street for safety reasons. However, after further discussion, in May 2005 the Council voted to rescind the ordinance, but a new ordinance to correct the action was not adopted, therefore keeping the ordinance prohibiting parking there in effect.
At its August 12 meeting this year, the Council approved abiding by the existing ordinance prohibiting parking on Webster Street from Magnetic to Sumner, and the city installed several no parking signs.
After lengthy discussion at the August 26 meeting and input from the residents involved and City Street Department chief Jim Agnitsch, the Council approved first reading of a new ordinance that would allow parking on the west side of Webster Street, and call for the city to paint the curb approaches yellow (no parking) at the southwest corner of Webster and Magnetic.
In other business, the Council heard from John Meis of Professional Survey Services regarding a previously approved $83,134 storm sewer project on East Bluff Street. PSS is based in Le Mars and has a Cherokee office.
Meis admitted that PSS had erred in the engineer's cost estimate after he talked with the low bidders - Lundell Construction of Cherokee - who bid the job at $118,911.55, more than $35,000 over the engineer's estimate.
Meis said the contractor's adjustments were correct and necessary and recommended the Council approve the Lundell bid, which it did on a 4-0 vote.
The Council also discussed demolition of a vacant house at 324 E. Main Street and assessing the charges against the property owner after advertising for bids for the demolition.
Council members also reviewed the status of a nuisance abatement at 110 Hickory and agreed, after first getting an OK from City Attorney Wally Miller Jr., that a letter be sent to the property owner, allowing five days for him to clean up the nuisance or the City will do it and charge the property owner the costs.
Stieneke also told of his concerns about the south end of Koser-Spring Lake Park in Cherokee, which has been transformed into "an unmaintained" nature preserve. Stieneke said the lake can't be seen from the south end due to the growth of flora and fauna.
"Who authorized this?" asked Stieneke. "Did we (Council) ever vote on it? Is that supposed to be a City Park or a Martin's Access area?"
The Mayor and interim City Manager Donald Eickmeier assured Stieneke that its a nature area and no mention was made who ever authorized it.
"It's a legitimate function of open space. There's something there for every nature lover," said Eikmeier.