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West Cherry Street property owners air project concerns

Friday, December 17, 2010

$2.3 million street, utility renovations a go for Cherry and 11th streets

About 25 interested West Cherry Street property owners attended Tuesday night's Public Hearing at the Cherokee City Council meeting regarding the City's pending West Cherry Street renovation project.

The property owners voiced their concerns and questions in the Public Hearing, with City Administrator Don Eikmeier and project engineers answering questions. The property owners were previously provided a copy of the project's costs, the estimated assessments on their properties, and notice of the Public Hearing.

Among the major concerns expressed by the property owners were the assessment totals, access to properties during the project, tree removal, and verification that the City and its engineers had done all they could to minimize the amount of the property assessments.

After the Public Hearing, the Council gave final approval to a series of resolutions concerning the proposed total renovation of West Cherry Street to begin in Spring 2011.

That project carries an estimated $2 million price tag, with property assessments totaling approximately $400,000 of that, and the City responsible for the remaining $1.5 million, which will be funded by General Obligation bonds.

The project will be bid in February 2011, according to engineers DeWild Grant Reckert & Associates of Sioux City and Rock Rapids.

The approved resolutions establish the assessment schedule, the method of assessments, project costs, the estimated value of each property to be assessed, and the estimated assessment for each property.

The method of assessment is consistent with those of the West Cedar Street project completed in 2004. In addition, the estimated assessment cost per lineal foot is identical to the West Cedar Street project at $55.90 per foot.

The resolutions passed unanimously by the Council in the past and on Tuesday, include directing preparation of detailed plans and specifications, form of contract, and notice to bidders; ordering bids; approving plans for construction of improvements; fixing value of lots; adopting preliminary plat and estimate of costs; project necessity; and authorizing the purchase of a small piece of irregular property from Alliant Energy for $300 to allow for storm sewer improvements.

The $1,952,000 project was already 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 storm sewer system will empty into Railroad Creek near West Cherry Street's intersection with U.S. Highway 59.

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, according to City Administrator Don Eikmeier.

Also involved in the project will be the removal and/or relocation of utility poles, sidewalk, alley, and intersection approaches where necessary, and some tree removal.

Pig-tailed onto the West Cherry Street project is the proposed North 11th Street project.

In a new development triggered a few weeks ago by the recent knowledge the City had qualified for Federal funding that would pay 80-percent of the project cost, the Council approved an engineering agreement with DGR & Associates for a $260,000 project for North 11th Street, from West Cedar Street to West Bluff Street.

That project - consisting of new curb and gutter, street pavement, and an extended water line from Cedar to the 11th Street water tower - will tie in with the West Cherry Street project and property assessments will fund the remaining 20 percent, according to DGR. The water line is over and above the estimated project cost and carries an estimated $60,000 price tag to be picked up by the City.

The City worked through the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) to get the funding. Engineering costs for the project total $45,350.

The Council Tuesday night approved a series of resolutions concerning the 11th Street project, similar to the West Cherry Street project.

In other action, the Council approved the first reading of an ordinance increasing landfill fees.

The Cherokee County Landfill Commission had notified participating cities that they had increased their landfill fees by 10-percent, which totals a $13,800 annual increase for the City of Cherokee. The Landfill Commission last raised its fees 22 years ago in 1988.

For the past two fiscal years, the City has been running a small deficit ($2,000 per year) based upon the current $6 per month landfill fee charged residents. To cover the Commission's 10-percent hike, a minimum 75-cents per month for residents would be required. However, the City has been paying demolition/landfill costs for condemned housing units from this fund, and is seeking to raise that 75-cents landfill fee hike to $1 per month, which would raise an additional $9,000 per year to cover the shortfall.

The Council also approved the third and final reading of an amended ordinance to prohibit overnight parking of motor homes, 5th wheel trailers, travel trailers, boats, or utility or construction trailers on City streets.

Special use permits for overnight parking will be issued for temporary periods of time at the discretion of the Police Chief.

The ordinance passexd on a 4-1 vote, with Council members Wayne Pingel, Mick Mallory, Linda Burkhart, and Jim Peck voting yes, and Dan Morrow voting no.

The Council also approved a Downtown Store Front Improvement Grant for Paula's Hair Design totaling $2,600 (26-foot store front). The City utilizes hotel/motel tax dollars for the fund to assist downtown Cherokee businesses making store front improvements.

In a related matter, Eikmeier will send a letter to all businesses in the downtown area advising that effective Jan. 1, 2011, any such project initiated prior to review and approval by the Redevelopment Committee and City Council shall be ineligible for funding.

In the past, some businesses have proceeded with the store front improvements without having attained final City approval.

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