Alta council addresses issues around community

Friday, June 18, 2021
Buena Vista County Deputy Jake Nelson introduced new patrol officer Tayler Cary during a meeting of the city council. After completing Law Enforcement Academy, Cary began his duties, which will include serving Alta under the city’s law enforcement contract with the sheriff’s department. / Pilot photo by Dana Larsen

The Alta City Council met recently at the community center to discuss a number of issues, including some problems involving city facilities.

Mayor Kevin Walsh suggested that it is time for the city to invest in security cameras for all of its buildings.

In one recent case, a group of people were reportedly squatting in the park shelter house without paying rental. When they were discovered, five teenagers or young adults ran away, leaving behind sleeping bags inside the shelter. While no damage was reported, city officials were concerned about potential liability. The sheriff’s department will be watching the shelter for any further problems.

In another instance, someone apparently stole cash and checks out of the city hall deposit box. The loss was not great, but underlines the need for security cameras, the mayor said.

Two officers from the Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Department discussed law enforcement coverage in Alta with the city council. They noted that a change has been made in handling traffic violations, so fines can be paid back to the city instead of going to the state. A radar trailer recently used on Lake Street for an extended period found about 90 percent of motorists in compliance or within five miles per hour of the limit. The officers are also concentrating on bar checks and business security in Alta. The council asked them to police weekend rental use of the community center, where there have been issues related to alcohol use with parties spilling over outside, and abuse of the grounds.

In other city council business:

• The swimming pool is up and running, with staff and management fully in place. An additional hour of daily operation has been added back, from last year’s 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. now. A council member suggested that the hours are not long enough for families that wish to go to the pool after work and supper, and suggested that 10 p.m. should be considered for closing.

• The council expressed concern over a lack of dumpsters for some apartment buildings. The code currently does not require them. Some of the buildings due to a lack of parking area may not have room for dumpsters. One council member said that one location has old mattresses and garbage left outside, and asked the city code officer to address the situation.

• A couple if nuisance properties continue to bother city officials. A vacant home that is five years behind on tax payments was scheduled to go to court last week, with the potential for the city to force demolition or take ownership. City officials said the house was in bad condition and presented a hazard. The city continues to try to work with the owner of a property with a long-vacant church building dating to the community’s early days. The building was supposed to be removed months ago, but the owner has not given clear answers on when that will take place. They city’s attorney said he is waiting for direction from the city to “drop the hammer” and force action.

• The city is applying new safety regulation for home permanent swimming pools, requiring fences that are at least six feet tall and non-climbable to prevent accidents involving young children. Permanent pools are defined as having any structure with them, such as an in-ground pool or above-ground pool with a deck attached.

• The council decided to sell off an old pickup truck being used by the code officer, as condition had become a bad reflection on the community. The staff member will be paid mileage to use his own vehicle instead.

• The council voted to donate $250 to the county fair board. While the city had no funds left in its donations budget, the money was available from the general fund.

• The mayor showed the council an elbow section of sewer pipe that had failed at an Alta residence. The section had been installed backward, limiting flow. It was determined that the piece was part of a private line to the home, and not the city’s responsibility, but city officials are concerned over how many other properties could have the same problem, which may lead to more failures.

• Removal of the chimney at the shelter house was put off until the next fiscal year. The park board hopes to utilize volunteer labor to offsite any increases in cost for the project.