During a recent Storm Lake City Council meeting, council members approved a timeline for a local landlord to establish on-street parking, a public hearing for plans and specifications for a major sewer project and two Community Development Block (CDBG) Grant applications.
Parking squabble settled
An ongoing dispute between the City of Storm Lake and a local landlord regarding tenant parking appears to have been settled.
Blue Skyz Properties, owner of a rehabilitated apartment building at 317 East Lakeshore Drive, unsuccessfully petitioned earlier this year for permission for tenants to park at Chautauqua Park, contending previous owners' tenants were allowed to park overnight via a parking permit system.
Even though a parking arrangement may have existed, Mayor Jon Kruse noted city staff were unable to find records to back it up.
This fall, city officials attempted to establish a timeline for Blue Skyz to provide off-street parking, as required by zoning code.
Robbie Ludy and Robert Wilson, Blue Skyz Property, asserted the property, used as a boardinghouse and apartment building since the 1900s, was never required to have off-street parking in the past.
Paving a lot on the premise would take away from green space, Wilson argued, something that has attracted families to the apartments.
Wilson said his quality apartments house "good, honest working people" who do not attract the attention of law enforcement.
"We have slumlords across the city," he said as he addressed council members. "If you want housing, I'll give you housing, but for God's sake, do something right."
Since the building sat empty for a period of time, before Blue Skyz renovated it, Kruse contended the building was not "grandfathered" and would have to follow established ordinances.
Although the building was first occupied earlier this year, Kruse said the city would be willing to push back deadlines for off-street parking, with gravel down by November 2013 and paving completed November 2014.
"You have gotten an advantage that others don't have," Kruse said, noting the city has been reasonable, allowing Blue Skyz a two-year grace period.
He continued, "I think we can sit here and argue, but that's not going to accomplish anything but use a lot of valuable time."
Wilson relented, following the half-hour discussion, and said he would begin the process to establish a parking lot, first applying for a side yard variance.
Council members approved the timeline for the off-street parking lot, and gave permission for tenants to park in Chautauqua Park during snow emergencies this winter.
Sewer project to begin in December
Following a public hearing later this month, a November bidding will take place for the first phase of five sewer projects aiming to reduce flooding in areas south and west of the lake.
City Manager Jim Patrick explained the project had been split into five contracts, to attract more competitive bids.
Phase one, the project that will be bid in November with construction potentially beginning in December, includes construction of sanitary sewer and force main along C65. Phase two includes construction of sanitary sewer and force main near Casino Road and Frank Starr Park to Milwaukee Avenue. Phase three includes construction of sanitary sewer and force main north of Milwaukee Avenue to the 13th Street lift station. The fifth and final contract includes wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
The second phase will likely be bid in December, Patrick said, with the third through fifth phases bid in January or February. Bid timeframes depend upon DNR approval of plans and specifications, which are currently under review.
Total cost for the five phases is estimated at $17.9 million, with FEMA funding $13.4 million and Iowa Homeland Security $1.8 million. The remaining $2.7 million will be funded by the City through sewer revenue bonds.
City to apply for two cdbg grants in 2013
The City of Storm Lake will be submitting applications in January for two CDBG grants: one for alleviating storm water drainage in the north central portion of the city, near Spooner, Seneca, Erie and East 10th Streets, and one for downtown building facade renovation.
The historic downtown building facade renovation is a new CDBG grant program that will likely not exist in coming years, City Clerk Justin Yarosevich commented, noting the Downtown Merchants Association felt "very comfortable" moving forward with the precursor to street scape and downtown renovation projects the city will be undergoing in the next five years.
"Woodbine just went through this program and spoke very highly of it," he said.