Lack of funding could hinder infrastructure change in Alta

Friday, October 25, 2019
Jennifer Movall (far right) and Justin Yarosevich (to her left) address Alta City council Around the table from left: Wes Bunjes, Vi Tilk, Denny Weber, Mayor Al Clark, Megan Peterson, Willie Lange (obscurred).

In a special session meeting of the Council of the City of Alta, Jennifer Movall and Justin Yarosevich, of Simmering and Cory & Iowa Codification, presented to the board their findings for a comprehensive plan that the City of Alta had asked of them. The comprehensive plan includes suggestions concerning signage, landscaping and anything else that might be considered in cleaning up the city and making it more attractive to visitors.

Movall passed around maps that showed future land use, housing and concept ideas for the land within and outside the city. Yarosevich mentioned how, in the last meeting, the conversation included ideas about a five-year capital improvements plan. He suggested they start the present conversation following up on that.

“There were a few changes made to some of the allocations of your farms and stuff,” said Yarosevich. “The five-year capital improvements plan itself was not really forwarded any further down the road, is that correct?”

Alta Mayor, Al Clark, replied that was correct. The board discussed among themselves infrastructure problems and streets that must be fixed. Yarosevish mentioned the RISE program and how it might benefit the city. RISE, Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy, is a program cities and counties throughout Iowa can apply for in order to maintain and upgrade roads and streets as an incentive for economic development.

“One of the things we heard as we went and talked to members of the community was the need to look at infrastructure,” said Yarosevich. “Obviously, that costs money and with the current funds that you have, it’s going to take a long time to make any sort of sizeable dent.”

Yarosevich explained to the board how, in order to get the funds needed to upgrade infrastructure, they will need to raise additional revenues or reallocate revenues from another venture into the infrastructure objective. He went on to say old infrastructure needs are not going to go away and new needs will arise in the future. Yarosevich suggested the longer the board waits the harder it will be to fix the problems.

Movall next passed around a map of land around Alta and pointed out how some of the land was owned by private individuals. She explained the map could be viewed in many different ways but the main goal was to get a developer out to the landowners and to show them what they are thinking about changing.

“One of the main goals of something like this is to spark potential discussion,” said Yarosevich. “We certainly are not proposing to develop this ourselves, we’re trying to generate potential discussion among people who might be willing to buy and develop the land.”

He went on to say certainly someone would come along and want to do something else. Yarosevich said that would be great because ultimately, what the city wants to do, is have that discussion and do what is best for the community.

“One of the things that came up a couple of times in some of the public comments was a need to try to reidentify the community, another term might be branding,” said Yarosevich. “The gateways coming in the town might need some sprucing up, something to drive the traffic to downtown which is the heart of the community.”

Yarosevich then passed around three maps that showed how the city could work with greenspace around the intersection coming into downtown Alta. He explained the maps also showed ideas for new signs. Clark asked if there were grants that would help with signage to which Yarosevich replied yes, as well as grants to help with purchasing trees.

“With trees if you did that over a couple of years you could probably do that with minimal cost,” said Yarosevich.

Yarosevich then proposed to the board to look at all the information given to them and prioritize which suggestions are more important. He said they could do it as a group or individually. Clark suggested they all do it individually and turn their findings back in to City Clerk, Megan Peterson. After those suggestions are turned in, Simmering and Cory & Iowa Codification will summarize the findings and come back with a mission specific plan.

The board then discussed the security at the Community Building, a party venue owned by the city. Council member, Willie Lange, reported to the board how he was under the impression eight years ago that there was security at the building.

“The discussion is, we all know what has been going on out at the Community Building,” said Clark. “It continues to keep getting trashed and you hear rumors about the drinking that goes on out there.”

Clark continued by saying the previous weekend was a prime example of how the building and the equipment gets trashed. He explained that times, as well as people, have changed. Clark said that, even though the city has raised the deposit on the rental of the facility, patrons still continue to not respect the building. He suggested they utilize the sheriff’s deputies and send them to the building when there is a party in order to do a wellness check.

Peterson explained that when there is a party in the building, it is a private party and deputies would essentially be trespassing. Clark replied how the board has a duty to the citizens of Alta to protect a building that they pay for.

“We have a responsibility to the citizens of Alta that their real estate and their equipment (be protected),” said Clark. “We have a responsibillity legally, too, what if there is a fight, a stabbing or a shooting and the next thing you know, because Alta didn’t require security, they come back after Alta.”

The board could not establich an answer on what to do to keep the Community Building protected. Clark suggested they all go home, think about it and discuss it with friends and family and report back with their suggestions at the next meeting.

The last piece of business is a job evaluation of Alta Code Officer, Matt Hess. After asking Hess to describe his job duties the board decided to terminate the employment of Hess effective immediately. The next regular meeting is scheduled for November 4 at 6 p.m.