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Council OKs new ordinances, considers City curfew

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cherokee's City Council Tuesday night approved two amended City ordinances pertaining to persons under legal age, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and discussed considering the possibility of a city curfew for minors in the wake of recent vandalism at two City parks.

In regards to the ordinances, the Council approved the second reading and waived the third reading, placing the ordinances in the City Code. They are being updated to better reflect State Code.

The Council also approved the first reading of an amended City ordinance pertaining to open burning within City limits.

That ordinance reads in part:

Recreational Fires - Recreational burning shall be allowed for food preparation and camping purposes only. The material to be burned is limited to charcoal, commercially fabricated logs, wood, and branches. Garbage, refuse, demolition debris, leaves and grass, paper and cardboard are specifically prohibited as burning materials. All burning will take place in an acceptable burning structure designed for fire containment.

Controlled Burns - Controlled burns on agriculturally zoned property and publicly owned properties may be allowed by written permission of the Fire Chief; provided that the burn will be manned at all times and have equipment and water supplies available on site as specified in the written permission issued by the Fire Chief; and provided that no burning shall be allowed within one-quarter mile of any building inhabited by other than the landowner or tenant conducting the open burning. Whenever deemed feasible, the Fire Chief may require a Department of Natural Resources management plan prior to the controlled burn. Burns shall not be allowed on the days when dryness, humidity, wind, or other factors increase the hazards of a controlled burn to an unacceptable level.

The City admittedly has turned its head on past controlled burns for such as those done by the City in Green Space areas, those done by the Cherokee Country Club, Mental Health Institute, and owners of undeveloped land surrounding the City. Such burns must now be issued by the Fire Chief before they can take place.

Vandalism at Koser Spring Lake Park over the Memorial Day weekend, and recently occurring at Gillette Park was discussed at length by the Council, with some suggesting a curfew be established to keep the vandals off the streets and out of the parks at night.

According to City Administrator Don Eikmeier, eight youths were involved in the vandalism at Koser Spring Lake Park in the wee hours over the Memorial Day weekend. They were later identified and the City Police and Eikmeier met with five of the youths whose parents consented to meet. No citations were issued and the City tried to negotiate community service in lieu of citations, but later learned that was not legally possible, as the City cannot mandate justice.

Citations will be issued in the future, according to Eikmeier, and City Attorney Wally Miller Jr. will check on the legality of the City possibly establishing a curfew.

The Council also agreed to refurbish and re-use the old Cherokee Community Center cast aluminum lettering for the front of the recently renovated Center, rather than purchase new and larger lettering, as recommended by architects involved in the $400,000 project.

Two representatives of the Siouxland Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO), of which the City is a member, were present to distribute and summarize SIMPCO's 25 Year Long Range Transportation Report for the Cherokee area.

SIMPCO is in the process of establishing a revised transportation report program that will follow Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) guidelines and be updated every five years. The last plan was done in 1994.

The focus on the area transportation program will be aging infrastructure, weather-caused system erosion, reduced State and Federal funding, and preservation of existing systems through resurfacing, replacement, and enhanced maintenance.

Eikmeier also informed the Council that the many complaints the City has received regarding the water temperature at the Bacon Aquatic Center is the result of cold weather, not the allegations that the City is not heating the water to save money.

Eikmeier said the City is heating the water as required and that the cold temperatures at night and fewer sunny days of late have contributed to the lower water temperature.

"Our chemical supplier said he has several (unheated) pools in the area with temperatures in the low 60s, while we are fighting to keep the Cherokee pool at 71-72 degrees," noted Eikmeier. "The weather needs to warm up, and we need some sunny days, that's all."

The Council also approved the appointment of Matt Mongan to the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) Board.

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