By Paul Struck
Cherokee's City Council last week discussed at length a proposal that would relocate the existing Head Start facility north of the City Airport to a site adjacent to the City Industrial Well Field south of Lake Street on the west of Koser Spring Lake Park.
The 4,200 square-foot building would then be utilized as the maintenance facility and storage for the City's Parks Department to replace the aged, hodge-podge, flood-damaged maintenance facilities currently used by the Parks Department.
The City has been exploring construction options for the aged, flood-damaged Park maintenenace building and Yacht Club for about two years and earlier this year a voluntary citizens' committee stepped up to spearhead a community grass-roots effort to fund and build a new Yacht Club in the Park.
To date, that dedicated force has raised $244,000 of a proposed $375,000 project that would finance a new Yacht Club, establish a large outdoor shelter, and install proper landscaping and other amenities in the Park. Their goal is to go to bids this summer and have the project completed by late fall.
However, this left the City with the task of developing a plan for the Park maintenance building after the Council ruled that the architect's preliminary estimates were exorbitant and questioned the proposed construction plan.
As proposed, the Cherokee Airport Authority that now owns the Head Start facility would relocate the building to the new site which the City would bear the cost to prepare footings and foundation, bring utilities to the site, and install the necessary overhead doors and any other remodeling work.
The Airport Authority also is asking the City to be responsible for the removal of the concrete floor at the existing Head Start site.
The 4,200 square foot Head Start building is approximately double the size of the initially proposed 2,400 square foot building that the City and Parks Superintendent Duane Mummert originally planned for.
The much larger Head Start building also would allow the City to centralize into one structure. The Parks Department currently utilizes storage buildings on South 4th Street that could then be cleaned up and offered for sale for commercial/industrial use and placed back on the tax roles.
The bad news is that site preparation costs will be greater for the larger Head Start building, with concrete footings and slab costing as much as $50,000.
The Airport Authority purchased the Head Start building and surrounding property because the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) ruled it was in the flight path. Much of the funds utilized by the Authority are from Federal Grants, which establishes the ground (and air) rules.
If the City deems this proposal too costly with too many strings attached, the Airport Authority will simply demolish the Head Start building and clear the site, according to spokesman Kent Wenck.
With so much to consider and a time frame involved, the Council agreed to table any action pending further review of the proposal, do the homework, and address the issue at the next meeting.
In other action, the Council approved a $37,000 bid from Blacktop Service Company to seal coat portions of South 4th Street, the east-west alley between South Second and 4th Streets, and the east half of the Fire Station parking lot to better accommodate RAGBRAI XL arriving in Cherokee Sunday, July 22. Funds for the projects will come from the Street Department and Fire Department 2012-2013 budgets.
The Council also authorized a $37,000 contract with Christensen Brothers of Cherokee for the rehabilitation of the deteriorated Birch Street bridge. Engineers and Christensen Brothers have inspected the bridge and recommend replacement of pilings and railings will extend the life of the bridge, versus a much costlier total reconstruction.
The Council also approved a $3,255 Storefront Renovation Grant for a building at 107 Pine Street owned by S2D2 LLC. Owners plan on removing the steel siding, replace garage doors, and install a new front entry door at an estimated costs of $8,140.
A $5,000 Storefront Renovation Grant was also allowed owners of the former Melander's building on the southeast corner of Second & Main Streets.
The owners are proceeding with replacing the aged windows in the vacant three-story structure at an estimated cost of $40,000 and have pledged future exterior and interior improvements in the near future, according to City Administrator Don Eikmeier. The roof has already been replaced, according to Eikmeier.
The Council tabled action on a proposed change order bill by often-used engineers Dewild Grant Reckert & Associates of Sioux City and Rock Rapids regarding two retaining walls added to last year's West Cherry Street renovation project.
DGR designed the project without retaining walls and the change orders adding the walls totaling $22,400 were approved by the Council last fall. However, the Council questioned the 24 hours of engineering fees totaling $2,332 on the final bill and will meet with DGR's John Meis to discuss the issue.
A request for an exclusive sales contract at Koser Spring Lake Park with Chesterman Company was also approved by the Council to sell only Coca Cola products in the two vending machines in the Park. In exchange, Chesterman's will donate $10,000 to the Yacht Club project. A similar agreement was approved by the City when the Bacon Aquatics Center and Gillette Park were renovated.
The Council also approved the reappointment of Darla Struck to the Library Board, and the appointment of new members Al Julius and Laura Dawson.
The first reading of a proposed ordinance creating a City Parks & Recreation Advisory Board was also approved.