City proceeds on Park facility financing

Friday, September 16, 2011
The City Parks Maintenance Garage in Koser Spring Lake Park would be razed and a new facility built on the east side of Spring Lake once the City Council gives final approval. Photo by Paul Struck

Koser Spring Lake Park Yacht Club, Maintenance Garage eyed

The Cherokee City Council Tuesday night held a Public Hearing to consider whether the City should proceed with the proposed replacement of the Yacht Club and Maintenance Garage at Koser Spring Lake Park.

The Public Hearing called for the authorization of a Loan Agreement and the issuance of General Obligation Bonds not to exceed $550,000, which the Council unanimously approved Tuesday night.

The projects' costs have yet to be finalized, but the G.O, Bond total is admittedly higher that projected costs. Since first proposed, a sidewalk/pedestrian trail south from the U.S. Highway 59 Spring Lake Park entrance to Sequoia Drive and a commercial sidewalk strip south to Danny's Sports Spot has been dropped from the proposal in an effort to trim an estimated $75,000 cost from the Koser Spring Lake Park improvements. That reduces the estimated total to $475,000. In addition, the Council plans future workshops in an effort to pare more costs off the projects. An architect is currently drawing up preliminary plans to be submitted to the City in the next 30 days.

The large open shelter in Koser Spring Lake Park would be razed and salvaged to allow for a proposed new Yacht Club building, according to City planners. Photo by Paul Struck

The actual financing of the projects will not be done until January or February 2012 after the bids are received and the Council has reviewed the "real" costs and concluded that the projects are affordable and should be completed.

It is likely that the Council will consider executing a contract with an architect for the buildings' design at its September 27 meeting. Then, it will be 60-90 days to complete the plans to prepare for bidding.

After the process is completed, the Council will then determine the actual dollar amount of the G.O. Bond issue, based on real costs derived from competitive bids.

City Administrator Don Eikmeier said the City would welcome any and all donations for the projects, and would certainly assist anyone who might want to organize a fund-raiser to benefit the projects, all in an effort to trim proposed costs.

According to preliminary plans reviewed by the City, the new Yacht Club would be a 42X42 structure with a 14X36 screened patio located on the site of the existing main picnic shelter on the west side of the lake. Based on preliminary estimates, that building would cost about $300,000.

The floor plan of the proposed new Yacht club is similar to the existing building and would feature a main meeting room connected to the enclosed porch area, a warming/serving kitchen, two handicapped accessible restrooms, and a utility room. The facility would be heated and air conditioned for year-around usage.

The proposed Maintenance building would be a 40X60 structure with three overhead doors, with additional storage space built overhead above the office and restroom area. The site recommended for the building is the east side of the lake southwest of the existing well building. Estimated cost for this structure is $140,000.

The flood-damaged Yacht Club at Koser Spring Lake Park would be razed, the screened porch salvaged, and a new facility built in another location in the Park, according to preliminary plans from the City. Photo by Paul Struck

According to the City, the facilities would be built in the Spring 2012 and would not add to residents' property tax debt due to ongoing retiring past debt.

In other business, the Council approved a resolution for a Public Hearing regarding the sale of an unused 48X457-foot tract of land adjacent to the airport and abutting the loading docks of the Schoon Warehouse property off Lake Street. The land-locked property is not used by the City or the airport and is used only by trucks backing into and leaving the Schoon loading docks.

According to records, the City paid $3,326 for the tract as part of a larger purchase in 1985. The tract has no access to public roadway and is too narrow to be built upon. The Council will host the Public Hearing at the September 27 meeting and proceed from there.

The Council also approved a Resolution establishing 6,000-pound load limits on East Bluff Street, East Spruce Street, and Riverview Drive in an effort to prevent semitrailers amd large trucks from traveling on them seeking the Hy-Vee Distribution Center. Some GPS systems erroneously direct truckers on those streets, instead of the major thoroughfares leading to the Hy-Vee facility off the Iowa Highway 3 by-pass.

The residential streets in question are not designed for heavy truck traffic. The action is necessary to allow the Iowa department of Transportation to post signs on highway right-of-way directing the trucks to the Hy-Vee warehouse.

The City had repeatedly been denied such action by IDOT. However, when Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were in Cherokee a few weeks ago, Mayor Mark Murphy and City Administrator Don Eikmeier explained their plight and whammo!, the IDOT contacted Eikmeier a few days later agreeing to the signs, provided the City adopted an ordinance restricting heavy truck traffic on the streets in question.

The Council also granted a 30-day extension regarding possible condemnation of a fire-damaged house at 310 S. 8th St. The property owner is working to restore the house into a rental as his finances allow, but it has been about six months since the fire and the City wants the house to be fixed up or razed.

City Streets Superintendent Jim Agnitsch has asked the Council to address the growing problem of low-hanging trees over streets and sidewalks. According to ordinance, trees must be trimmed so that branches will be at least 15 feet above the street surface and eight feet above sidewalks. The low-hanging branches are scraping vehicles in many areas, according to Agnitsch.

The City will identify trees in violation and mark the tree, and then notify the property owner by certified mail to comply with the ordinance in a 14-day time period. For those failing to comply, the City will complete the work and assess all costs back to the property owner, occupant, or person in charge of the property. If not paid, a lien will be filed against the property.

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