The Cherokee City Council approved a budget amendment for the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year following a Public Hearing at the regularly scheduled Council Meeting Tuesday night.
The Council also hassled with two disgruntled property owners about recent nuisance abatement citations issued by the City, and narrowly approved maintaining the wildlife/fowl building at Koser Spring Lake Park.
The approved budget amendment adjusts for the following unbudgeted expenditures: River Road resurfacing (paid for by federal stimulus money); excess snow removal costs; repairs to maintainer transmission; tourism and redevelopment incentive grants/loans (result of revisions to program funded by hotel/motel tax); flooring and window improvements to Community Center (funded by hotel/motel tax); and debt refinancing.
In regards to the nuisance abatements recently issued by City Police, Carrie Siepka was present on behalf of her mother, Deb Siepka, 1130 W. Cherry St, to appeal a public nuisance abatement order. Siepka questioned why they were being ordered to remove the grills, mowers, and animal pens used by the familly, and what the "miscellaneous items" in the order refer to.
City Administrator Don Eikmeier replied that the City will not restrict the grills and mowers, but many items are scattered all over the yard, a multitude of them too numerous to list individually in the complaint. He maintained that the list of items is detailed enough. He also stated that he and Police Chief Steve Schuck would inspect and give the owner a better idea of the items that need to be removed.
Residents Kevin and Kris Van Roekel, 526 W. Cedar St., also were present to appeal their nuisance abatement order. Van Roekel defended the condition of his yard and said there are many more residences around town that look worse than his, and why isn't the city going after them?
Eikmeier replied that the City is in the process of enforcing the nuisance ordinance in an effort to clean up the City and make it more presentable to neighbors and visitors, and that numerous nuisance abatement orders have been served.
"We are not just singling out a few individuals," noted Eikmeier. "At this meeting we are addressing your particular situation."
Van Roekel said he does not feel the way his yard looks is a problem to the neighborhood, and no one can see the items unless they come on to his property. Eikmeier replied that the pictures showing the nuisance situation were taken from the street and alley. He and the Police Chief would inspect the premises to determine the specific items that are to be removed.
The Council voted unanimously to deny Siepka's and Van Roekel's appeals.
In other action, the Council approved by a 3-2 vote to keep the wildlife/fowl building at Koser Spring Lake Park for visitors to enjoy as they have for many years. Councilk members Mick Mallory, Jim Peck, and Dan Morrow voted to keep the facility, and Council members Greg Stieneke and Linda Burkhart voted against the measure.
Stieneke had asked the Council to consider discontinuing keeping the chickens, ducks, peacocks and/or other fowl and animals at the park and removing the animal pens/building that he said was in disrepair.
Ron and Janet Brown of Marcus were present and addressed the Council, stating that over the years they have enjoyed visiting and bringing family members to the park and seeing the animals. They feel that City Parks Superintendent Duane Mummert does a great job improving the park and keeping it up, and they asked the Council not to close down the animal area.
Stieneke stated that he has heard comments from people regarding the state of the building and penned area. He maintains there are few animals, the building needs repair, and the City is short on money. He questions whether spending money on the facility is a good investment.
Mummert refuted Stieneke's claims and said that many people enjoy the animals in the park and it is important to keep them. Mummert advised Stieneke and the Council that no tax dollars were used to develop the facility and that he paid for the animals and their upkeep, and also constructed the building out of his own pocket.
Eikmeier then intervened and Mayor Mark Murphy asked for the vote.
The Council also approved the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting parking on the west side of Euclid Avenue near Union Street, although the proposed ordinance was altered in that reading to appease affected property owner Jane Miller, of 401 Euclid Ave.
Eikmeier reported that Street Superintendent Jim Agnitsch painted a white mark on the curb line along the west side of Euclid to indicate the north beginning of the proposed no parking zone. The council had modified the length of the proposed no-parking area at the last meeting. Miller saidthat if the ordinance is passed, even with the modification, she will not have enough parking area in front of her residence. She has a truck that is 20' long and it will not fit in the parking space. She does not feel that the Council has looked at other alternatives and her rights are being denied. She said if she has to park farther north along Euclid Street, her vehicle will be in front of her neighbor's house, and she wants to avoid any potential problems with her neighbors. Miller said people just need to drive more slowly and be more cautious when approaching the corner.
Burkhart expressed concern that visibility is a problem when there are cars parked on this section of Euclid. In order to see approaching traffic from the north one must almost come to a complete stop when entering Euclid from Union Street, explained Burkhart.
Eikmeier stated that both the Police Chief and Street Superintendent agreed that a hazard exits, and they feel that the proposed no parking zone is a good remedy.
The Council accepted Miller's request to take another 13 feet off the no parking zone and pased the second reading. The third and final reading will be at the June Council meeting.
Two electronic commercial signs with message boards were approved for Taco John's on North Second Street, and for North Star Community Credit Union on South Second Street. Eikmeier said both signs meet City code.
Eikmeier also advised the Council that human error led to a valve being left open at the Bacon Aquatic Center Tuesday and that some chlorine water ran into the storm sewer and into Railroad Creek near the Community Center.
The matter was soon rectified and the DNR was notified and inspected the creek, and reported a "small" fish kill. Chlorine water from swimming pools can be toxic to aquatic life.