City may offer VFW its own space in community building

Friday, September 13, 2019

Alta city officials have proposed an offer to the local VFW to give the veterans organization its own location, the annex portion of the community building. The city would retain ownership of the building, but the VFW would have sole access to use the annex room for its meetings and events, and would be able to outfit the space as it chooses. A kitchen is included in the annex.

Representatives of the organization attending the Alta City Council meeting this week seemed pleased with the idea, but wanted to gauge opinion from its members before finalizing any agreement. The arrangement would also have to be approved by the city council.

The VFW had apparently been given permanent free use of the community building for its meetings in an agreement that goes back many years and was never formally recorded. The city had agreed to provide the space after the organization agreed to sell the Roxy Theater building to the city for $1 in the 1950s, with the city later selling it to the school district for $1.

Mayor Al Clark said it is necessary to get some form of agreement into writing to determine responsibility for use of the city facility. He said he had researched the history of the Roxy building and could find nothing to prove that the VFW had owned it, and felt that the American Legion might actually have transferred ownership to the city, though he felt the relationship with the VFW should continue.

Currently, after VFW events, the city must clean the floor of the community building for the next user. By having the VFW in its own space, it would relieve city staff of that responsibility, and locate the veterans next to their Blue Star Monument, where there have been some issues with vandalism by other users of the community building, the VFW representatives noted.

More discussion on the location offer will follow.

In other business at the monthly city council meeting:

• The council finalized purchase of a property extension in the sewer plant area that can be used for snow removal and storage of removed dead trees. Cost of the 2.26 acres is just under $50,000. The city will wait to take over the property until the the farmer using it has harvested a crop this fall. Next month, the city will determine where the funding for the land will come from in the budget.

• Speed limit on a portion of Highway 7 approaching Alta from the west will be reduced to 45 miles per hour, after some citizen concerns about safety in the area. The DOT has agreed to extend the 45 mph. zone 300 feet to the west and move the limit sign. The mayor described the change as “a big win,” and the council unanimously approved the necessary change to the city traffic ordinance.

• City officials continued discussions with landowner Ross Parcel, who wants to remove and tile a length of creek in the Maple Creek development area. City officials have not opposed the project, but have expressed concerns that heavy rains could cause water to back up in the road area and on other homeowners’ property. After checking with the city’s consulting engineer, they told Parcel that he would have to hire an engineer at his expense to determine potential impact before such a project could be approved, to protect both himself and the city.

• A ditch drainage project on property owned by Roger Radke and planned for a condominium development, in similar fashion, would require an engineer to be hired at the property owner’s expense, the council decided.

• Sheriff Kory Elston told the council that its current law enforcement contract with his office will expire in October. He plans to propose a new three-year contract (or longer, if the council wishes) and hopes that the cost can be reduced slightly from the current $160,000.

The sheriff reported over 400 hours of patrol in Alta over the past month with no serious incidents. The department has been doing walk-throughs of the schools as a new academic year begins. A speed check on West Highway Street has been underway, finding few issues with speeders and an average speed of 32 miles per hour.

• The fire department has had no bids for a tanker truck it has been trying to sell, and plans to list it on the open market for around $5,000. The recent Firemen’s Appreciation event took in around $11,000 toward a goal of $16,000 for extractor and dryer equipment the department needs.

• The street department has been removing some dead trees, but will put that project on hold during fall harvest traffic on the roads. City officials said there are a lot of trees that still need to be removed.

• The city has had some issues with residents not following regulations to use proper garbage cans with lids. There was some discussion of buying uniform large cans for the city and a tipping arm for the garbage truck to handle them, but at this time city officials felt the cost would be too high to pass on to residents, when only a small percentage are causing issues. The city will try to remind people using bags of the regulations. One citizen also noted problems with people leaving bagged trash in an alley for extended period. City regulations say garbage cannot be put to the curb sooner than 24 hours before pickup.

• An area company was hired to replace some damaged drainage tile in the 7th and Main and 8th and Main areas.

• The council discussed some issues with traffic in the Ag Partners area, where there is a turning lane and some concerns that turning semi trucks may not be able to see cars next to them. The lane was added some years ago when truck traffic was heavier, to allow cars to get through while trucks were lined up to load and unload. City officials are unsure if the arrangement is still needed. They will look at the area and see if there is a need for a potential change.

• There was brief discussion of the condemnation process, currently involving three properties with issues - a former church, a building on Main Street, and one property on Lake Street. It was also reported that positive efforts to clean up trailer park area have continued, reducing concerns for that site.

• Some problems with rental users of the community building, especially for birthday parties, was discussed. Although the deposit was increased to $250, it hasn’t helped as some users have left messes inside and out. The council will consider further increasing the deposit. The City has been approached about using the building for a regional Iowa DNR meeting on hunting regulations. The council was pleased that Alta was chosen, and agreed to offer the DNR a discount on rental fees.

• Concern was expressed over a pop-up camper that has been parked on a City street for an extended period, in violation of code. The camper was then moved onto a yard, which violates a different code that requires a parking surface for long-term storage of vehicles. Another situation arose with a boat being left on the streets. City officials said such issues will be dealt with individually, and that usually all that is required is to inform owners of the regulations.