The Cherokee City Council Tuesday night awarded approximately $650,000 in contracts to Steve Harris Construction Inc. of Homer, Neb. for proposed Lake Street and Koser Spring Lake Trail improvements.
The bids include $492,011 for the Lake Street improvements, and $153,391 for the Koser Spring Lake Trail improvements.
Of the Lake Street project, 80-percent or up to $330,000 (whichever is less) will be federally funded, while 80-percent or up to $140,000 is to be federally funded for the Park Trail, with the City responsible for the difference. The federal funds are administered through the IDOT.
Bids for both projects were taken by the Iowa Department of Transportation in January 2012 and the IDOT's recommendation to accept the low bids offered by Harris Construction were then acted upon by the Council Tuesday night. The projects are to be completed this year and contain penalty clause completion dates - 45 days for Lake Street, and 25 days for the Park Trail.
Along with awarding those two bids, the Council also approved an Engineering Inspection Services Contract with DeWild Grant Reckert and Associates for $67,500 for Lake Street, and $22,500 for the Park Trail.
The Lake Street project consists of replacing the pavement and grade from west of U.S. Highway 59 about one-half mile to just north of the CN Railroad crossing. The Recreational Trail is about 4-tenths of a mile from just west of U.S. Highway 59 running along Spring Lake Drive.
In other business, the Council, acting on several complaints, considered renewal of a Class "C" liquor license for The Other Place, a West Main Street bar owned by Jim Bunkers, who also owns Archie's Bar on West Maple Street, and Liquor On The Corner on East Main Street.
At issue are a few downtown businesses adjacent to or in the vicinity of The Other Place that have complained to the City about the bar patrons littering, urinating, and vomiting on the sidewalk in front of The Other Place, and on the businesses' sidewalk frontages and on their buildings and entry-ways in some cases. They maintained that cigarette butts, beer cans and broken bottles were a regular occurrence and that the other bars in town police their patrons and do not experience similar problems.
Representatives from The Book Vine, Underground Clothing, and Royer's Jewelry appeared before the Council to register their complaints and asked for action on the matter.
Bunkers told the Council and the other businesses that if he knew of the severity of the problem, that he would surely work with them to solve it. Bunkers said he was "blindsided" by the complaints and being confronted at the Council meeting with his liquor license at stake.
"We can and will work with people if only we are aware of the problems," advised Bunkers. "We have absolutely no intentions of running a business not respectful. We'll bend over backwards to right this situation."
Bunker's daughter Jackie, who has managed The Other Place since May 2011, said "I can't control what people do after they leave the bar, but I will do what needs to be done. We had a problem with past management, but we're working hard at fixing everything up."
The Council agreed to grant the liquor license - usually an annual license - for 90 days and will re-visit the matter with all parties concerned at the scheduled May 22 Council meeting.
In the meantime, Bunkers said they will do the best they can to clean up the outside area every night and do a better job monitoring their customers. Among the complaints was the allegation that some patrons were "over served" and that problem should be resolved by management inside the bar before customers leave in an intoxicated state and create the problems outside.
Council member Jim Peck said if the patrons were told that the liquor license is in jeopardy if such actions continue, perhaps that would help solve the problem.
"That will be done," answered Bunkers.
Jackie also said she recently had the inside of the bar remodeled and is planning on fixing up the exterior, including a new awning. The outward appearance of the building was also a point of contention by the complainants.
In his regular report to the Council, Cherokee Police Chief Steve Schuck said The Other Place has been issued no liquor or other violations at the bar over the past year.