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City OKs resolution supporting proposed 'Clean Line' project

Friday, July 15, 2011

Council also targets fire-damaged houses

The Cherokee City Council Tuesday night approved a resolution supporting a proposed "Clean Line" Energy Program that would convert wind energy in Northwest Iowa into direct current and transport it on new DC transmission lines to Chicago and other major metro eastern locations of the United States.

Cherokee Area Economic Director Mark Buschkamp was present to review the Clean Line Energy proposal with the City.

Clean Lines Energy proposes to convert wind energy generated in northwest Iowa and abutting states into direct current to allow for the delivery of electrical power to larger metropolitan areas of the nation. This project would require a conversion station and new transmission lines across Iowa and to the southern part of the Chicago metro area.

If the route through the northern part of Cherokee County is chosen, the conversion station and new power lines would be built in Cherokee County or O'Brien County. Also, an estimated 2,000 additional wind turbines would be installed in the area to support the new power lines.

A decision on the route is expected to be made in late 2012 or early 2013.

As opposed to the alternating current that power suppliers now utilize to transport electricity, direct current allows for the movement more efficiently and with less loss of power.

If successful, the program would allow for the delivery of electrical power where it is in demand - in the larger metropolitan areas of the nation.

To move electricity in this manner would require a conversion station and new transmission lines across Iowa. Clean Line Energy has evaluated routes for the past few years and has defined two alternative routes - one being the northern part of Cherokee County, or in O'Brien County.

As explained several weeks ago by a Clean Line Energy spokesman, the direct current lines would consist of an estimated two, single pedestal towers per mile carrying a single "hot" DC transmission line eastward. However, problems and logistics must be worked out with federal, state, and local government regulations to officially establish the corridor for the transmission lines.

Crossing the Mississippi River and meeting DNR and EPA guidelines and land usage requirements are also a huge consideration of the project.

Clean Line Energy is not seeking tax dollars, but has hosted a series of informational meetings and open houses, including one in Cherokee in June, to explain the project to the public and local governments.

In other action, the Council approved an agreement with the IDOT for the Koser Spring Lake Park Trail Project scheduled for FY2013. The agreement with IDOT provides for $140,000 of the estimated $210,600 costs. The project, which will connect the trail to U.S. Highway 59, is being coordinated with the proposed Lake Street improvement project.

The Council also unanimously approved an addendum to the IDOT Agreement transferring funding from the Birch Street bridge to the River Road bridge. The River Road bridge project is estimated at $450,000, of which 80-percent will be funded by a grant.

The Council was asked to consider a recommendation to condemn the house at 316 W. Locust St., which was seriously damaged by fire earlier this year. The Fire Chief and a local contractor have inspected the property and determined that it has too much structural damage to consider rebuilding. They recommended demolition. The Council authorized the condemnation of the house.

The Council also was asked to consider the status of the house at 310 S. 8th St. that was damaged by fire. City Administrator Don Eikmeier met with the owner and his son prior to the meeting and they requested a 120-day extension to make the necessary repairs. After further discussion, they agreed to a 60-day extension to secure the house and make the outside presentable. The Council authorized the 60-day extension to show improvement to the property.

A request was also heard from Jason Ravnsborg to waive liens against the property at 918 W. Cherry St. He purchased the property on tax sale and the 18-month redemption period has expired. Ravnsborg can now receive a deed for the property provided that all liens are paid.

The liens total $4,267.73 and include the replacement of the curb stop, unpaid utility charges, and unpaid mowing charges. Ravnsborg has indicated that he will have to make an initial investment of $10,000 - $15,000 to get the house ready for renting.

The Council was not in favor of waiving all the liens, however, it was in favor of having someone rehabilitate the property. The Council then authorized waiving $1,707.09 (40%) of the total liens, leaving the balance of $2,560.64 (60%) as Ravnsborg's responsibility.

Eikmeier also informed the Council that Alliant Energy continues to be a problem by being late and not meeting deadlines for its utility work for the West Cherry Street renovation project. Eikmeier said Alliant is holding up progress and preventing the contractor from installing storm sewer and paving between 7th and 9th Streets.

The hold-up is also affecting the starting date for the North 11th Street project previously scheduled to start July 25 or sooner. That project depends on the progress of the West Cherry Street project. Before closing 11th Street, the 9th Street intersection with Cherry Street needs to be opened for north-south traffic. To accomplish this, Alliant needs to get its work done, explained Eikmeier.

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