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Police Department to move into DHS building

Friday, September 17, 2010

West Cherry Street reconstruction plans move forward

After the County sweetened the kitty, the Cherokee City Council went all in Tuesday night to accept the County's proposal to relocate the City Police Department out of the Law Enforcement Center to allow for expansion and upgrades to the County Jail and Sheriff's Department.

The City Police will soon be relocating into the former Department of Human Services building on West Maple Street, currently owned by the County. The County will deed the building to the City and the City will deed the dead-end alley just south of the LEC to the County to help accomodate the proposed Jail and Sheriff's Department expansion.

The County also will pay the City $25,000 for necessary renovations of the DHS building to better accomodate the Police Department.

Previously, the County had proposed $21,500 for that work, but upped it to $25,000 after the City Council balked at accepting the initial proposal after viewing the cost estimates compiled by Police Chief Steve Schuck and City Administrator Don Eikmeier.

Eikmeier, Schuck, and County Supervisor Terry Graybill and Sheriff Dave Scott handled most of the heavy lifting regarding negotiations involved in the County's proposal to move the Police out of the LEC. In fact, Schuck and Scott met one-on-one to hammer out the final details and arrive at the $25,000 figure, according to Eikmeier.

It is hoped the DHS renovations and the Police Department's move could be accomplished by Jan. 1, 2011, said Eikmeier after consultations with Schuck.

Last week, the Council deadlocked on a 2-2 vote to accept the County's proposal, forcing the matter to be tabled pending further study and further negotiations with the County,

Preliminary estimates for the DHS remodeling gleaned by the City and Schuck total $29,800, plus replacing a large portion of the broken and cracked concrete sidewalk in front of the DHS building, estimated at an additional $9,000.

Those numbers were then pared down to $25,000 and the understanding that the concrete sidewalk fronting the DHS and two adjacent properties will be repaired at a later date, with the three property owners sharing in the cost. Schuck said the City's share will be $1,400-$1,700 pending additional sweat equity from his staff and City employees.

Conversations also will continue between the City, County, and DHS regarding storage of files in the DHS building basement. The City is planning on giving the DHS 2-5 years to relocate the stored information. Schuck said the Police plan on using much of the basement for evidence storage and eventually will need the eintire basement.

Council Members Linda Burkhart and Mick Mallory voted against the move last week as presented, citing that the City should not incur any costs whatsoever in relocating the Police Department. However, new Council Member Wayne Pingel abstained on the vote to accept the County's DHS offer, saying he needed more time to get up to speed on the details, hence the 2-2 deadlock. Council Members Jim Peck and Dan Morrow voted for the move last week.

The Council approved the move on a 5-0 vote Tuesday night.

The DHS renovations proposed include carpeting, interior painting, window replacement, electrical work necessary, software and computer expenses, radio replacement, and general remodeling procedures such as sheetrocking, counters, security door, insulation, shelving, and appropriate signage.

In other business, the Council approved a $5,000 Downtown Storefront Improvement Grant for Carey's Furniture on East Main Street. Carey's Furniture is undergoing extensive remodeling to the buildings' front. Those monies are gleaned from the City's Hotel/Motel Tax and monitored by a special committee which makes its recommendations to the Council.

The motion passed 4-1, with Morrow voting against it.

The Council also approved authorizing a $139,000 contract with the engineering firm DGR of Sioux City for the proposed Cherry Street reconstruction project to be bid this winter and work to begin in Spring 2011.

The $1,952,000 project is budgeted and includes new curb and gutter, storm sewer, water main replacement, and limited sanitary sewer replacement, along with street surface replacement from the CN Railroad Crossing (which will be removed) west to State Street. The surveying work is done and the engineers are ready to proceed with design so bidding can occur sometime in December or January, usually the optimum time period for the lowest bid prices.

The project will be funded by General Obligation Bonds and property owner assessment. The new City G.O. debt replaces the principal and interest payments on City debt that will be retired in 2012 and will not impact the City tax rate, explained Eikmeier.

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