On consistent 3-2 votes, the Cherokee City Council Tuesday night approved a series of resolutions moving forward the proposal to issue General Obligation Notes not to exceed $250,000 for the purchase of the Olhausen Mobile Home Park, relocation of its tenants, and clean-up and development of the property for future commercial/light industrial development.
Of that $250,000 total, $75,000 is designated for the purchase of the seven-acre tract of land, $50,000 designated to assist the remaining tenants in relocation, and $100,000 for clearing the property and readying it for possible future development, perhaps even residential.
The proposal calls for the City and Cherokee Industrial Corporation (CIC) to partner in a project to purchase and redevelop the mobile home park off U.S. Highway 59 South that is described as "a blighted area" in the City's South Urban Renewal Plan.
At its last meeting that included a Public Hearing on the matter, the Council approved on a 3-2 vote the first reading of the Ordinance and approved waiving the second and third readings due to the reported immediacy of action to best benefit all parties concerned.
Council members Linda Burkhart, Wayne Pingel, and Jim Peck voted yes on all actions regarding the South Urban Renewal Plan, and Mick Mallory and Dan Morrow voted no each time. Such was the case again Tuesday, with Mallory and Morrow voting against the resolutions throughout with their one main contention, disagreeing with the City financially assisting the CIC in the purchase of the trailer park.
According to plan, the City would recoup its investment through taxation when the tract of land is purchased and developed by private business(s).
At the last Council meeting Oct. 27, Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Director Mark Buschkamp, also speaking for the CIC, told the Council that the CIC simply wants to help solve the problem with the "blighted" trailer park, and that's the sole reason for involvement. He said the CIC was contacted by the Olhausens to see if it would be interested in purchasing the property that had been previously listed for sale, with no takers.
Some earlier reports said the CIC approached the Olhausens, and this is not true, said Buschkamp.
The meeting with the Olhausens started the ball rolling for the CIC and the City to combine forces to purchase and redevelop the property. With the CIC and CAEDC deeply involved financially in a proposed new railroad spur south of town that would serve an area business with great revenue potential for Cherokee and the County, Buschkamp said the CIC has no funding for the trailer park project and, hence, negotiations were brought forth with the City.
Since the Oct. 27 Council meeting, CIC members have met with each of the tenants at the trailer park and, according to Buschkamp, the tenants have been very cooperative and understanding. The CIC has committed to tenants that each will be notified of the CIC's long-term plans for redevelopment no later that January 2012, and that they will receive at least six months notice to locate alternative housing.
In other action Tuesday night, the Council approved on a 5-0 vote the first reading of a proposed amendment to the City's Recycling Ordinance. There will be a second and third reading before passage of the amendment.
For the past several months, the City has been reviewing its recycling policies with Sanitary Services and the Cherokee County Solid Waste (Landfill) Commission.
Although there are several word changes in the proposed amendment, the two basic changes include making it mandatory for all Cherokee residents to recycle, and allowing residents to place recyclable goods for pick-up in any type of container, provided that it is clearly marked for recyclables only and when filled weighs no more than 50 pounds.
Currently, residents have been encouraged to recycle (many don't) and use blue plastic bags available at no charge at City Hall. The City has also pondered using hard plastic tubs as other cities do, but the cost of 1,900 tubs would total $17,100. The Solid Waste Commission would contribute $7,000 to that total because that is the cost of the plastic bags now in use. However, the residents would then have to be billed one $6 charge at the onset to cover the additional cost of the tub, or the City must find another source of revenue to pay for them.
It is the City's hope that by the third reading of the amended Ordinance now scheduled for Dec. 13, possible corrections to the Ordinance will have been ironed out and residents will realize the awareness and benefits of recycling.
According to Sanitary services, the volume of recycling goods has decreased and flattened out the past few years. By making recycling mandatory in Cherokee and by increasing the choices citizens have in what containers they prefer to use, it is hoped residents will increase their efforts to recycle.
Fines can be issued for failing to properly recycle once the new Ordinance takes effect.
"We're basically putting more teeth into the Ordinance to encourage recycling," explained City Administrator Don Eikmeier.
The Council also approved a contract with Champion Electric to install LED traffic lights, fixtures, and controls along U.S. Highway 59 in Cherokee.
The Council previously approved the purchase of the fixtures and controls for $23,760, and the Champion Electric contract totals an estimated $27,540 for a $51,300 total expenditure providing electricians do not encounter problems with underground wiring and connectors, or within the traffic light poles.
The City applied for an received a $35,000 Energy Conservation Grant that will be applied to the project cost.