Council mulls traffic control, garbage pick-up proposals By Paul Struck

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

At its regular meeting last week, the Cherokee City Council fielded a petition carrying 115 signatures from a group of parents seeking traffic control measures at the West Willow and North 7th Street intersection that also serves as a busy Cherokee School District bus stop.

The parents had approached the Council at a previous meeting and were awaiting the City's response after the City explored the issue with the Cherokee School District.during that interim.

City Administrator Don Eikmeier reported that traffic volume and speed was monitored for eastbound traffic on Willow Street in that time and the results were virtually the same as westbound traffic as previously reported, and he shared those statistics with the group.

Eikmeier also said he had been in contact with the school about relocating the bus stop to West Cedar and 7th.Street where a four-way stop already exists.

Currently, the bus stops on 7th Street mid-block between Cedar and Willow. The parents' concerns are that there are many children crossing Willow Street to get to and from the bus stop.

Eikmeier reviewed what justifies a stop sign according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control: a less important road intersecting a major road; a street entering a highway; unsignalized in a signaled area; and high speeds, restricted view and accident records. None of these apply to this intersection.

According to Eikmeier, the option of installing crosswalks at 7th and Willow would cost approximately $1,000.

Amy Wood, one of the parents and a school employee, compared all the bus stops in town and said the one on 7th and Willow is the only one that doesn't have a stop sign anywhere. She said mornings are the worst, especially for traffic traveling east where the sun is blinding. She added there are also behavior issues at the bus stop - kids pushing/shoving, throwing balls into the street, etc.

Council member Chad Brown asked who was responsible for monitoring the bus stops. Council member Wayne Pingel said maybe it is the school's responsibility. Emily Johnson, also one of the parents, circulated the petition for a stop sign at this intersection and submitted it to the Mayor with 115 signatures.

The Council ultimately decided that the School District will be asked to consider placing temporary stop signs at 7th and Willow Streets and monitor them while school is in session.

In other business, Eric Lundell of Sanitary Services was present with a proposal to make a major change in the City's garbage pickup.

Part of the change would be to make their pickup services more efficient and less hazardous for their employees. Lundell presented photos of piles of uncontained garbage at the curbs. He explained that not only does this look bad and cause blowing garbage, but it is also time consuming for the employees.

He is proposing that all residences have one 96-gallon container for garbage that can be picked up by Sanitary Services' machinery, eliminating four to five manual dumps into the truck. The cost of the garbage containers would most likely be passed on through a rate increase.

Eventually, Lundell would also like to see every residence also have a 96-gallon container for recycling. He is looking into possible grants for the purchase of those recycling containers. Lundell maintains that a great percentage of household garbage is recyclable and that this would be a win-win situation for everyone. It helps in the efficiency of garbage pickup, as well as helps extend the life of the landfill.

On average, Lundell said that Sanitary Services collects 31 tons of residential garbage per week in Cherokee, of which just four tons are designated recyclable materials. He maintains that most household garbage is recyclable but that residents are simply not taking the time to separate it. Larger and more convenient containers may help solve this wasteful dilemma, according to Lundell, and help extend the life of the landfill.

When asked whether smaller recycling containers would be better, Eikmeier feels the larger containers would encourage more recycling. Dave Wilberding, a former Le Mars resident now of Cherokee, said Le Mars did something similar and it really helped clean up the town.

Lundell said at the next Council meeting he will bring back cost estimates for this proposal and update the Council on the available grants for the recycling bins.

Eikmeier also reviewed a proposed ordinance establishing driveway standards in residential zoning districts. The ordinance would limit new driveways to either concrete or asphalt, as well as limit the width of drives based on the garage size. The ordinance also prohibits parking on grass or landscaped areas.

As an amendment to the proposed ordinance, the Administrator said an exception to parking on grass or landscaped areas would be in the event of a snow emergency, where vehicles must be parked off-street.

A resident questioned whether the ordinance applies to existing driveways. The Administrator answered that driveways prior to August 2013 would be grandfathered in, except they must be in compliance with the maximum sizes shown in the ordinance.

The Council then approved the first presentation of an ordinance establishing driveway standards, with the addition of the snow emergency exception.

In further action, City Clerk Deb Taylor made a correction to the August 13 Council minutes, stating that under the item regarding condemned structures demolition bids, the address of 356 E. Cedar St. should be 345 E. Cedar. St.

The Council again considered a farm lease with Tom Jenness for approximately 1.54 acres of green space property east of South Roosevelt. This would be a 3-year lease with a rent of $200/year.

Council member Brown said he would still like to see a long-range plan for turning as much of the green space into native grasses as possible. He doesn't want to see more green space turned into farm ground. The native grasses would take about three years to get established, but thereafter maintenance would be minimal and no mowing required.

The Council decided that this will be addressed at budget time, usually beginning in January. The Council then approved the farm lease with Jenness as proposed.

Dave Wilberding has resigned from the Planning & Zoning Commission because of potential conflict of interest when asked to represent either the City or private landowners regarding local development issues. Citizen Myla Stoneking had expressed an interest in serving on a board or commission and was approved for the post by the Council.

Eikmeier also reported that Denny Holton had resigned from the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and that Jeff Nolder, Mike McLaughlin, and Dawn Miller had expressed an interest in filling the term. The Council then voted to appoint Jeff Nolder to the Board to fill the unexpired term of Holton.

Also, Dave Wilberding of PSS Engineering explained that rather than surveying, legal costs, platting and recording three separate plats for the extensions of Aster and Sequoia streets, vacating the current street right-of-way dedicated by the late Gary Doherty to the City four years ago to extend utilities to the lots on Brady Drive would require just one filing. At the same time this is done, Jean Doherty will dedicate to the City this same parcel, plus the extension of Sequoia east and the extension of Aster both north and south.

The Council authorized vacating the street right-of-way in the Doherty Subdivision.

Wilberding reviewed proposed plans and specifications for grading, installation of utilities, and pavement of the extensions of Sequoia and Aster streets. The estimated cost of the project is $410,000.

The Council approved the plans and specifications and authorized advertising for bids.

The Council reviewed bids for the grading and pavement of Rock Island Avenue. Several contractors were contacted, but because of the October 15th deadline, only one bid was received. Ahlrich Concrete of Le Mars bid $71,800. The Council awarded the paving contract to Ahlrich Concrete.

Two bids were received for the concrete removal, subgrade preparation, and traffic control for the Rock Island Avenue paving project. The Council accepted the low bid from Schoon Construction of Cherokee for $8,600.

The Council also was informed of a meeting with NRCS on Wed., Sept. 18th at 7 p.m. They will be discussing possible flood retention structures on Railroad Creek north of Cherokee, and possible funding sources.

Eikmeier reported that no FEMA private property disaster declaration would be made for the May 27th flood event in Cherokee. Part of the reasoning seems to be that statewide, there was not as much damage as in 2010. There will be no homeowner assistance.

Eikmeier also said the asphalt trail around Spring Lake is now complete, except for dirt along the edge. Blacktop Services widened the trail to 7' rather than 6' at no extra cost, as they were able to use the asphalt machine, saving on manpower and handwork.

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