September 25, 2007

Four Candidates Running For Two City Council Seats

Posted in City News at 11:02 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

According to the Guthrie County Auditor’s Office the four candidates for two seats on the Stuart City Council are Sarah Lee Bliven, James O’Keeffe, Cory Waddell and Gene Skellenger.

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Library Board Special Meeting

Posted in Agenda at 10:42 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Here is the agenda for the Library Board Special Meeting tonight.  The $3 K Grant for the Library assessment was approved by the State recently.  Mr. George Lawson is here to meet and speak with the Board on the assessment he will be performing.

Library Special Meeting Agenda

September 21, 2007

It’s Time For A Little Humor

Posted in General at 7:13 am by thevoicesofstuart

Or Kids Say the Wildest Things

Here is a collection of funny things kids say when questioned or when questioning others.

Anyone with kids know that they can catch you at anytime with what falls out of their mouths repeating what they have heard grownups say or just in the way they make connections in their minds.  Anyway…..

Enjoy!

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September 19, 2007

Tonight’s Special Meeting Results

Posted in Council Meetings at 9:43 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Present tonight were Messeurs Sherman, Waddell, Crawford, Beldon and Mayor Marks.  Mr. Beldon arrived about 10 minutes into the meeting.  At Mr. Crawfords request the agenda was modified to include Old Business before approval.

The resolution for the CCC was passed for inclusion on the November Ballot.  The Ballot will read:

“Shall the City of Stuart, Iowa, issue it’s General Obligation Annual Appropriation Capital Loan Notes for the purpose of making a Grant in the amount of $1,700,000 to the Project Restore Foundation for the purpose of constructing, equipping, and furnishing a non-denominational Community Center/Cultural Center at the site of the former All Saints Catholic Church located at 324 North Fremont, Stuart, Iowa, including any demolition or site preparations necessary therefor?”

The resolution for the Aquatic Center received a motion but no second.  It will not be included on the November Ballot.  Messeurs Sherman and Waddell felt that putting both on the ballot at the same time without the rest of the city requirements would be a mistake.  They also felt that the wording of the two resolutions was to identical and had the potential to cause confusion with the voters.  The plan now is to put it on the ballot with the rest of the city projects when they are ready.

Under Old Business, new building price,  Mr. Crawford updated the council on the information they are awaiting from Mr. Sloan on the price of a new building.  There was some confusion since the motion made at the last meeting was to have Mr. Aldrich get a new architech.  However it happened was not explained, but Mr. Sloan is still developing the plans and options for a new city complex.  He has requested more information from the council of their preferences for exterior and space.  He is developing several options.  One based on comparable square feet to the Masonic Temple, and others larger and smaller with add-ons.  He will be using another firm to develop the costs for each of the options.  This information will be made available to the council October 4th.  His formal presentation to the council will be October 8th at the next regular council meeting.

Also under Old Business, street closings, Mr. Vinzthum requested that 2nd street be blocked off from 3 pm to 7 pm Tuesday October 25th for the Central Iowa Chevy Dealers Open House.  He was directed to make arrangements with the police.       

September 18, 2007

Special Meeting, Stuart City Council

Posted in Agenda at 3:36 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the Wednesday, September 19th special meeting.

stuart-city-council-91907.doc

Odds And Ends

Posted in Odds and Ends at 1:05 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

 This starts  a “Odds and Ends”  topic for all the comments that don’t really fit an existing topic.  

Things happen everyday that just need to be talked about and I think this will be a good way to try and handle it without mudding up the other topics.

I have placed a couple of comments I received today here to help get it started.

Let’s see how it works. 

September 17, 2007

My Thoughts On the Special Meeting

Posted in my thoughts at 11:27 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone.

About Part 1 of the Meeting.

A couple of things caught my attention during this part of the meeting. 

The first was that we were listening to the sellers opinion not an independant evaluation.  Especially when Mr. Olsen said they were not hard numbers for him but Mr. Williams was confident he could do what was needed with that amount.

Next was when Messeurs Crawford and Askren showed less than an objective view of the evaluation by speaking for the owners plan without having a independant evaluation or hard numbers for a new building.  This theme carried through the entire meeting and at times Mayor Marks and Mr. Beldon joined in.

About Part 2 of the Meeting.

During this part of the meeting they made their first attempts to determine what space was actually needed to accomodate the different city activities.  My first thought was they are finally doing what the ADA Committee was formed to do in July which was to develop recommendations to the council on how to solve the ADA requirements.  Upon reflection I fear that the only reason they had this part of the meeting was to be able to say that they looked at this part of the equation.  If you remember the ADA Committee has had two meetings since July.  The first was when they locked onto going with the Masonic Temple and the second was to look at Mr. Sloan’s information, take a quess at what space they would need and update the other committee members on the council meeting discussion.  They have yet to have the current buildings evaluated, they are not waiting for the grant evaluation to determine the actual space needs for the library and they continued to try and cram everthing into the Masonic Temple.

I was not impressed with Mr. Ashour’s flip answer of needing twice the space they have now.  There was no justification or reasoning provided other than the meeting room would be twice the size it is now. 

Messeurs Waddell and Sherman were the only council members who did not seem to have a preconceived opinion on the discussion.  They asked direct questions and stated their opinions is a reasoned fashion.

About Part 3 of the Meeting.

The most apparent problem I saw with this part of the meeting was the way Mayor Marks and Messeurs Crawford and Askren glossed over the concern expressed by Mr. Aldrich and Mr. Sloan on the interference of the building owner and his architech during their efforts to gather the information requested by the council.  The impression I got from the discussion is that when the city did nothing to resolve the conflict, Messeurs Aldrich and Sloan withdrew and will not be providing any further information unless asked to review Mr. Olsen’s numbers.  To me that shows that Mayor Marks and Messeurs Crawford and Askren are not interested in getting an impartial evaluation of the building.  In the end Mr. Askren insisted that they have Mr. Aldrich find a new architech to develop plans and costs for a new building and no provisions were made for an independant evaluation of the Masonic Temple or the existing buildings.

The other problem I have with the discussion was that they are still asking for costs on a new building without having reasoned, firm numbers on square feet for each activity.      

About Part 4 of the Meeting.

I support the CCC wholeheartedly.  It is the best idea going right now for economic development.  I can see the potential benefits to the community without even thinking hard about it.  

What concerns me is that the CCC has been given short shift by the city for a year now and the impression I got was that the only reason they are behind it now is because they have locked onto the Masonic Temple and there is no provisions for any meeting/council room there.  Without the CCC they are stuck under that option. 

The next concern I see is that by putting the CCC to a vote before figuring out what the real numbers are for the city needs they are setting them up to fail.  As much as I support the project I doubt that I can convince myself to vote to go forward without knowing how all these projects are going to effect the property tax rate.   That is called blowback and is usually an unintended consequence of other actions or lack thereof. 

The same can be said for the Aquatic Center.  At $1.2 M the Aquatic Center is no small amount and once the numbers are in on the city needs the minimum amount total for all three projects is $4.2 M using the Masonic Temple number of $1.3 M and the CCC number of $1.7 M.

Since they say they want to pay everything off in 10 years the minumum annual payment at 10% will be $420 K plus the interest and other fees associated with the notes.  The city collects around $398 K now in property taxes and uses it to fund city operations.  That tells alot about where this spending is heading.  If all these measures pass the tax rates will have to more than double to maintain services at their current levels and handle the payments.

The last update made by the Aquatic Center Committee reported that the pool still has an estimated 10 years of useable life before requiring replacement.  The council just dissed the voters by not allowing the bath house to be put to a vote which adds another $550 K to the total affecting tax rates.  Pushing for the Aquatic Center now because it is ready to go is a sure tell that it will be payed by another general obligation, annual appropriation bond instead of fundraising and TIF as promised. 

It all goes back to having a prioritized plan of action for what they want to accomplish, putting good hard numbers to the plan and then making decisions based on what is best for the community based on those numbers.  I am just not seeing any headway in this direction and that makes me very leary of their intentions.                     

September 16, 2007

The Special Meeting Rundown. Part 4.

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:31 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The Community Cultural Center discussion

Mr. Tom Smull asked the council if they can move forward with trying to get on the ballot for November and how do we finance it or do we have the capability to do what we need to complete the structure. 

The Ruan Securities Representative then provided information on possible funding options.  The first being a TIF Revenue Bond under Urban Renewal which is not subject to reverse referendum.  A General Obligation Bond which must go to referendum was the second option. 

Note:  All bonds talked about here were discussed as Annual Appropriation provision bonds meaning that the only portion of the bond that counts against debt capacity is the annual payment and the payments must be approved by resolution each year.  This allows the council to obligate more money than the debt capacity would normally allow in total spending.  This provision is a completely legal option for the council to use.

Mr. Sherman asked if they should be putting the CCC on the ballot ahead of the city buildings and Mr. Waddell countered with why not, they should not be penalized because we are not ready and they are.  Mr. Beldon then brought up there were still a lot of unanswered questions about ownership, insurance and liability.

The discussion then turned to how much money the CCC needed to complete the project.  Mr. Smull then provided the amount of $1.3 M without the dome and $1.7 M with the dome.  This initial discussion was that the $1.7 M would be broken down into $1.3 M TIF and $400 K Hotel/Motel Tax funding.

Available debt capacity would be at 41% after the bath house and CCC using annual appropriation provisions.  Mr. Waddell wondered why the council was showing reservations about using annual obligation provisions when it is such a great tool available to them.  The Ruan Secutities repersentative then reminded him that without the numbers on the city buildings to complete the picture it is impossible to predict where debt capacity will end.

At this point the discussion turned to available TIF money.  The bottom line is that for every $150 K of TIF money captured the General Fund loses $60 K that would have to be made up from another source which is means increased property taxes.  As the discussion continued on using TIF, Mr. Sherman asked how much TIF was used to pay for the trail and was told that $93 K Phase 1 was paid out of available cash so no TIF money was used.  The other drawback to using TIF is that they cannot capture $150 K and put $60 K into the General Fund and use the rest.  All TIF money must be used on the funding of the project by law. 

At this point it was 9:30 pm and a motion had to be made on whether to continue the meeting or not.  That motion was made and passed to continue the meeting. 

The discussion resumed about the use of Hotel/Motel Tax to fund $400 K of the CCC.   Its use is also subject to reverse referendum and it counts against debt capacity.  The Ruan representative then said that if they wished to avoid a referendum they should fund it entirely with TIF.  The council said that they wanted to go to referendum with the issue and Mr. Smull agreed that that was his understanding also.

Mr. Beldon then re-raised the questions about ownership, insurance, payroll responsibilities.  Mr. Smull stated that the foundation runs the operation and is responsible for its finances.  

The Ruan representative them recommended that if they were going to go to referendum they should use a General Obligation, Annual Appropriation Bond to get a better interest rate. 

At this point the council questioned whether or not they should include the dome or not. Whether or not by putting the issue on the referendum says that they endorse the project or not.  Mr. Waddell then put forth that it is their project and they came to us asking for funding.  We should put it out to the people and let them decide if they want to fund it or not.  Mr. Sherman then stated that what we get to decide is if we as a city can afford to fund this.  Mr. Waddell came back with according to the information provided from Ruan yes they can.  Mr. Sherman then stated that I have a checkbook in my pocket and before I didn’t have a loan for $4 M dollars but now I do.  Can I afford it.  Where is that money coming from? It is still money you have to get from somewhere to repay it. 

The Ruan representative then brought up the other option of using TIF again because even with its drawbacks it is a option and pointed out again that they did not have to go to referendum.  Mr. Waddell stated that he thought it should go to referendum. 

Mr. Crawford then put forth that the dome should not be included in the money.  Mr. Waddell said that is not for then to decide.  If Project Restore thinks they can go to the citizens of this town with a referendum for $1.7 M and get it passed, let them.  Mr. Beldon then brought up that we are putting this to the voters before the city buildings.  Mr. Waddell countered with whose fault is that.  Because they did their job and we didn’t.  It is not their fault we are not ready.  Mr. Crawford then asked why they should not have any recommendation powers on what to include because it is not just Project Restore any more it is a CCC because they are coming and asking money from us.  He recommended that they don’t go with the dome.  Mr. Waddell disagreed.

Mr. Smull was asked about what he thought on the matter of including the dome or not. He stated that most of the people involved in the project thought that if they take it to a public vote they preferred to have the dome included.  If they were going to take the risk of a public vote the dome should be included because that’s the whole signature of the city. 

Mr. Beldon then said his problem is the whole ownership, liability issue and the prioity issue of putting it forward without resolving the whole ADA issue on city buildings.  We have solved the bath house, stage and bathroom problems but we still have to go ask the taxpayers on renovating or building new city buildings. 

Mr. Smull then asked if they were sure that they cannot put the city buildings on the ballot in november.  The mayor stated that they still have until September 20th to pass a resolution to do that and a special meeting is scheduled for the 19th.

Mr. Askren asked when could they put it out on a ballot with a special election if they miss the November ballot.  Mr. Bump told him that they have to have 30 days notice to hold a special election he thought.  He would have to check for sure.

Mr. Crawford then asked if we are going to use public money for this, what are we going to get out of it.  The mayor countered with why do we have to get anything out of it.  It is a public use facitily.  Just like the pool or the library.  It will provide conference rooms, an auditorium, it will draw people to town for functions and weddings. It will promote tourism.  He said he understood the marketing part of this but asked what am I going to tell people on why I am supporting this project when asked.  What happens down the road when the city has a disagreement about how the building is being used.  Will we have any say in it.  The mayor countered that the CCC has a Board of Directors who will handle its operations and decision making.  He came back with what if there is a conflict and we need to use the building for a city matter and it is all booked up.  Mr. Askren then told him that we would be a customer just like everyone else and we would have to reserve space just like everyone else.  He then pushed for either a contract or covenants to cover some of these questions. 

Mr. Beldon then wanted to know if they needed to put a lien and insurance on the building since they were basically buying it and leasing it out.  Mr. Bump stated that these were all things that needed to be considered and worked out.  The costs still  needed to be developed.

After further discussion it was determined that these issues could be worked out after the referendum passed. 

The issue of who would be responsible for the renovation of the building was brought up.  Mr. Smull outlined that the city would own the land and lease it back for 99 years.  Mr. Bump stated that the money would be designated as a grant and their Board of Directors would be in charge of directing the renovation and controlling costs.  The lease back agreement would then be used as the vehicle to negotiate and include all the convenants the council expressed concerns about.  We would still have the money at that point and if we could not come to an agreement we just would not give them the money.  Mr. Crawford brought up who would be responsible for running the operations and was told that they are just leasing the property.  Mr. Bump then pointed out that The Board of Directors would be responsible for directing operations just like any other company who leases a building.  We own it, they lease it and run it.  They run it as a community center. He assumed there would be no property taxes payed on it. 

The remaining question of whether or not to included the CCC on the referendum before the city buildings was finally decided by planning to call a special bond election as soon as they were ready on the city buildings.

The motion to proceed with the resolution for the CCC to be placed on the ballot for the November general election.  The motion passed with all yes votes. 

Mr. Crawford then asked if they could go ahead and make the same motion to go forward with the resolution for the Aquatic Center.  The project is ready also and should not be held up because the city buildings.  A similar motion was made and passed with one no vote by Mr. Waddell. 

The next special meeting is scheduled for September 19th to approve the resolutions. 

The meeting then adjourned.

   

                                                 

September 15, 2007

The Special Meeting Rundown. Part 3.

Posted in Council Meetings at 12:15 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The “What Now” part of the discussion 

At this point Messeurs Beldon and Sherman asked when Mr. Sloan was going to report back with his information.  The mayor told the council that when she talked with Mr. Aldrich they were comfortable with looking at the numbers that Mr. Olsen provided and giving them an opinion.  (as a reminder, in the 5th paragraph of the Morph in the Discussion topic, Mr. Sloan and Mr. Aldrich passed on their concern about the confusion and interference of the owner and his architech while they were trying to do what the council hired them for so they backed off and stopped working on the project.)  Mr. Waddell then questioned who Mr. Olsen really worked for since the letter with his information is addressed to Mr. Williams.  He was told that he works for Mr. Williams.  He next queried that if that was the case are they going to buy the building after the renovation.  The mayor then asked if they needed to enter into  their own contract with Mr. Olsen to continue.  Mr. Waddell then asked how is that not a conflict of interest if he is working for the owner of the property.    This met with silence from the rest of the council.  He then asked if after they got the hard numbers is the owner going to make the renovation then they would purchase the building turnkey or would we buy the building then do the renovation because if it was not turnkey he would have a problem with that.  Mr. Askren then said that the purchase would be turnkey, ready to go, thereby avoiding the conflict of interest. 

The mayor then asked about what are they going to do about a pricing out a new building and what are they going to do with the existing buildings and where are we going to put the new buildings.  They agreed that everything needed to stay in Guthrie County to avoid loosing revenue.

Mr. Waddell then proposed that they needed to work out the design of a new building based on compareable square footage because they should not be comparing a 8,000 square foot to a 11,000 square foot because of course the 8000 is cheaper.  If they could build a new building at 11,000 square feet for $300 K to $400 K more than the renovated building and have everything on one floor then that would be the way to go.  Mr. Sherman then pointed out that that would be limiting the size of a new building.  It was finally decided that they needed a price for comparable square footage then prices for add-ons to cover all the city space needs.  They then acknowledged that the Masonic Temple would not be the perfect match but it was close.  That there is 8000 square feet on the first two floors and 2000 more in the basement but in a new building the police would not get 2000 square feet.  They finally decided that they need to determine what square footage and price for a new building then decide which way they wanted to go.  The mayor stated that after they got the numbers for the new building they would have an informational meeting and hopefully the public will come and educate themselves or if they don’t to bad.  We have to make the best guess we can. 

The discussion then shifted to whether or not to put a town hall type room in the new building.  Mr. Sherman then pointed out that how can you justify spending the money they are talking about without putting in a good sized community meeting room.  The need was challenged because others felt that they would be able to use the Community Cultural Center.  He countered with what if the CCC doesn’t get built what would they do then.

The old plans were then brought out, looked at, and discussed.

The discussion then reverted to what numbers they needed to get and how to show the differences between new and the Masonic Temple in a comparable fashion.  Mr. Crawford then proposed that they needed a new building designed with comparable office space and library space.  Mr. Beldon then stated they needed another one that has the wants of Stuart.  Mr. Sherman then brought up he wants to see what we actually need and not just based on cramming the city funtions into that building because he has a problem with that.  Mr. Askren then stated what they really need is a ramp going up the side of city hall with a ADA door and bathroom and that is all they need.  Mr. Sherman pointed out that there are no provisions for a community meeting room in the Masonic Temple and that people would have to go to different floors for everything.  It was then proposed by Mr. Askren that the third floor be used as the meeting room.  Mr. Sherman objected again about having to go to different floors for everything and he wanted to see the city hall on the first floor.  It was then pointed out that the library has higher traffic that city hall does.   Mrs. Avey then pointed out the the second floor would have to have the majority of the offices torn out to accomadate the library and Mr. Olsen pointed out that the main wall was load bearing and could not be torn out.

The discussion then turned to who they needed to get to give them the numbers for a new building and that they wanted a second opinion of those numbers.  After much back and forth about whether to continue to use Mr. Sloan it was decided to have Mr. Aldrich get someone else because Mr. Sloan did not give them the answers they wanted the first time.  After further discussion they decided that they were no where close to putting this on the ballot.  After more discussion the motion to have Mr. Aldrich get a new architech and to get numbers on a new building based on comparable square feet with add-ons for an expanded library and adding a community meeting room within two weeks.  The motion passed.  A special meeting will be held in two weeks to receive the information then a decision will be made at the next regular council meeting.

This portion of the meeting then ended.                                    

September 14, 2007

The Special Meeting Rundown. Part 2.

Posted in Council Meetings at 8:45 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The Second Hour

Mr. Crawford handed out a packet that was a case study of how a town in California went about deciding whether to remodel or build a new library.  It covered areas that require consideration like service impacts, quality of space, site location and servicability of space considered. 

The Library Discussion 

Katie Phippen was then asked to provide her input on the library needs.  She reviewed how other surrounding librarys are layed out.  There was some discussion on how the library could be layed out on the first floor in the Masonic Temple.  At this point they started talking about what the library actually needs in types of areas for the different functions like circulation desk, tutoring area, processing station, office, children collection, adult collection, meeting room, computer labs, somewhere for story hour and ICN room. 

Katie then told the council that there is a one time grant available from the state to have the library and town evaluated to provide a recommendation based on current and future projection of population growth.  The result of the evalution is a complete layout down to where the outlets are located.  The Council told her to get the grant request submitted as soon as possible.

At this point Katie reviewed with the council a worksheet that she was working with to try and determine the square footage the library would need.  Based on a projected population of 1,800 to 2,500 in to the out years the result was a little over 5,000 square feet.  

The grant evaluation will provide all the information needed to identify the library needs.  There was some discussion about whether the Masonic Temple would still fit the library needs 10 to 15 years from now and if it doesn’t what would have to happen then. 

Katie then reviewed what other librarys in the area have for square footage.  Guthrie Center reported 9,100 square feet and Panora has 6,500 square feet.  They then reviewed the areas the library needs irregardless of space.

Mr. Waddell then brought up that they should not be trying to fit the library into the Masonic Temple because they were there to find out what she needs.  That is the job of the architech to design the space to fit the needs. 

Katie then brought up that the council should remember that if the library was relocated to Adair County they would lose a lot of state funding.   

This concluded the library portion of the discussion.

The City Hall Discussion

Mr. Ashour was asked what he needed for City Hall.  He stated that he needed twice the space that City Hall has now.  When asked how much space they have now he didn’t know.  The discussion then turned to what they would have at the Masonic Temple.  At this point they tried to figure out how much space was in the current council room. 

They then started looking at the Masonic Temple layout to see if they could open up areas for a larger council room, where they could locate offices etc.  Then they talked about putting some of the library on the second floor and Katie told them that they should not even consider that because there is no way to monitor activity and materials.  She told them that the only room that could be located in a different area is the ICN room.  Mrs. Avey then told them that they would have to have evening access to the ICN room.         

The Police Discussion

When asked about his needs Robert told the council to give that little cubby hole they showed on the layout to the library and put his shop in the basement as long as he has seperate entrance and exits.  Some discussion followed about keeping the police office visable to the public even if it was just where the duty officer had a desk.  Then have the rest in the basement.

Mr. Crawford then brought up that the difference between our current buildings and a new building and a renovated building is that the general administrative areas and common areas could be centralized like kitchen area, bathrooms, copy machine, fax etc.  The Mayor then pointed out that they could eliminate all the multiple copy and fax machines that the city pays rent on. 

In a new building the police area should be its own seperate area with its own entrance to keep disruptions away from the other areas.  In the Masonic Temple there will be a front and back stairway to the basement.  That way if they had unruly individuals they could use the rear entrance to keep the disruptions away from the other activities. 

This ended the police discussion.

The discussion then turned to having a council room that seated enough people to be able to hear their opinions on issues instead of reading about what they think afterwards.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Mr. Sherman made a good point that if they had a council room that accomodated an audience maybe people would start attending meetings and providing feedback when they are trying to decide issues.  Mr. Waddell brought up that he would like to be able to face the audience and see their faces when talking.

This ended this part of the meeting and is the halfway point.

September 13, 2007

The Special Meeting Rundown. Part 1.

Posted in Council Meetings at 11:55 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The First Hour 

The first hour or so was spent talking with Mr. Bob Olsen, Mr. Williams Architech, on his evaluation of the Masonic Temple’s current condition.  Per his evaluation the structure is sound.  The heating and air conditioning systems are in good working order and are new enough to be low energy systems.  The 2nd floor is sound and was reinforced during the renovation done in the 80’s to incorporate hvac runs.  The 1st floor will require reinforcement to accomodate the library. 

They reviewed his estimate of $650 K to complete the renovation to turn the building into governmental space and bring it up to code.  They reviewed the work that was done during the earlier renovation.  The SW corner of the basement does have a little water problem.  There are 2 sump pumps currently installed in the basement to handle the water. 

Mr. Sherman brought up that he liked the historical part of the building but expressed concern about if they would have the same problems there that they have currently at city hall he did not want to trade one old building and problems for another.  Mr. Olsen reiterated that the pervious restoration was overseen by the best restoration architech at the time in Iowa.  He allowed that there is always a chance for a few minor problems but there should be nothing major to contend with.  His conclusion was based on a the findings of both a structural and mechanical engineers assessment of the building.   

His numbers for bringing the building to code are based on rules written specifically for historical structures built before 1945.  This regulation makes allowances based on the different construction methods of that time.

Mr. Olsen did say that the numbers he provided were on the conservative side and not firm.  He did say that Mr. Williams working as his own general contractor was confident with the numbers and could keep the cost lower than having an outside general contractor.

The discussion continued about different features in the building and how they could be used.  The location for different activities.  The Library and Police would be located on the first floor.  City Hall would be on the second floor.  No provisions were designated for using the third floor.

A comparison was made between the numbers given by Mr. Sloan last week and the ones provided by Mr. Olsen.  Mr. Askren pointed out that Mr. Olsen’s numbers were based on actual assessment and Mr. Sloan’s were based on redoing everything. 

The elevator looks to be in good shape but has not been evaluated professionally.

The discussion then turned to what a new building would cost based on the estimates from 5 years ago of $2.5 m, the estimate Mr. Sloan provided last week for $2.3 M.  Mr. Olsen then pointed out that the difference between construction estimates 5 years ago and 2007 numbers had to be held suspect because of the annual cost increases in construction materials.  He then pointed out that there was a already built building that could be upgraded for much less than a new building.

Mr. Olsen was asked what it would cost on average for new construction per square foot.  His answer was around $200. per square foot.  Mr. Askren then pointed out that we could not get the bath house built for less that $280. per square foot and that everything we build here costs us 40% more than anywhere else in the state. 

Mr. Waddell then expressed his reservation about buying a historical building built in 1894 for $1.3 M when they could build a new building with everything on one floor for $1.6 M based on equivalent square footage of 8,000 at $200. per. 

Possible uses of the third floor were tossed around with no real consensus reached.

The discussion then went back to the difference in construction estimates and actual costs.  The end result was that they needed to get a handle on the costs of a new building.  Messeurs Crawford and Askren spoke briefly in support of the Masonic Temple.

This ended the first part of the meeting.          

Special Meeting Nets Some Results

Posted in Council Meetings at 11:09 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

This is a quick rundown of the results of last nights marathon special meeting.  I do not have the time today to write what took place or my thoughts on the meeting so those will have to wait.  In order to get some information out I decided to just give you the results.  I will try to get a recap done this evening.

The council decided after lengthy debate that they did not have enough information to decide what to place on the november ballot concerning the city hall, library or police station.  They made a motion to have Mr. Aldrich get them a price of a new building comparable to the square footage of the Masonic Temple and some addons to help with their decision making.

After further debate the council made a motion to do a resolution to add the Community Cultural Center $1.7 M bond to the november ballot.  Their justification being that this project should not be held back just because they are not ready on their city issues.

A last minute motion was made to do a resolution to add the Aquatic Center bond to the november ballot.  A dollar amount was not mentioned.  They used the same justification as the CCC. 

I realize that there is alot not said here.  Please do not pepper me with alot of questions.  I will do my best to get more information out tonight.

September 12, 2007

The Meeting, Part 2.

Posted in Council Meetings at 12:06 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The Library 

The council passed the resolution  for the “Public Referendum To Change The Qualifications Of The Board Of Trustees For The Stuart Municipal Library.”  This is to ask the voters to decide on the November Ballot if they wish to change the Library Board make-up from 5 city residents to 3 city residents and 2 county residents. 

The Urban Renewal Plan 

A date was set for the next regular council meeting to hold a public hearing on the “Proposed Amendmant No. 5 To The Stuart Urban Renewal Area For The City Of Stuart, Iowa.”  This amendment is to include the Community Cultural Center and existing City Hall, Library and Police Station to the Urban Renewal Plan in case the referendun fails on the Masonic Temple.  This is so they have a chance to qualify for TIF money for use on  deteriorated or deteriorating buildings situated around the city.  The distinction being that TIF can be used to rehabilitate blighted existing buildings but not to build new ones.  

The Police 

Robert then spoke about the grass ordinance and that the only thing he will enforce is if the grass exceeds 12 inches.  They have knocked on a few doors and people have recitified the situation.  The mayor asked why the ordinance allowed the height of 12 inches and wasn’t shorter.  Mr. Askren pointed out that the city had a lot of areas that they were responsible for and would not be able to keep trimmed if the ordinance was changed to a shorter height.  Upon realizing the city would be in violation of its own ordinance if it was changed to a shorter height the subject was dropped. 

He went on to say he has recieved phone calls at home from the Omsbudmans office questioning his investigation of the petition.  He further stated that he was conducting a criminal investigation and he would call anyone he wanted as fact gathering and if you want to tell anyone not to respond to his calls he could charge you with interfering with official acts of an investigation.  This is a notice he wanted out to the press for dissemination.

Under New Business

Mr. Waddell questioned the packets they receive before each meeting as not having complete enough information to even know on some topics what is to be discussed.  His contention is that if they are going to be asked to make a decision on the spot there should be enough information there to be able to think about it before hand.  See if they have any questions they might want to ask before they come to the meeting.  He asked that if someone wants to be on the agenda they should be told to provide a summary of what they are requesting and why before they are added.  If they cannot or will not do so they should not be added until they do.  Mr. Ashour said that it was not always possible and Mr. Waddell countered with they should just table the item until they do.  Mr. Ashour said they would try to do better.

Under Old Business

Mr. Sherman asked what the status was on Sargents partially knocked down building on 2nd Street.  Mr. Askren restated that there is some problem with the insurance company covering the cost of the removal.  Other than that he had no idea.  Mr. Askren then said he would call him and find out what the problem is and let him know that the city wants it down now.

Mr. Crawford then talked about what the ADA Committee discussed during their meeting last week.  They reviewed the information they received from Mr. Sloan, the space requirements they thought they would need, they updated the committee members who were not present at the council meeting when Mr. Sloan presented his information.  They had a library, city hall and police representatives there to talk about infrastructure needs.  They also talked about the future of the Aquatic Center and the CCC and whether it was feasible to recommend to the council to include them on the ballot.  No decisions were made during the meeting as it was just a consensus gathering on what they needed to talk about at wednesdays meeting.

This concluded the council meeting.

    

September 11, 2007

The Bids For The 2007 Street Maintenance Projects

Posted in Council Meetings at 10:40 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

One bid was received from Grimes Asphalt for the different proposed street projects.  They were:

N. Harlan from 4th to 10th – $92,438.

Western to Centennial – $31,009

Exposition St. from N. 4th to N. 2nd – $33,340.

N. Harlan St. from N. 4th to N. 2nd – $20,221.

N. Adair St. from Front St. to N. 7th – 61,472.

Sherman St. from S. 6th to S. Fremont and Main St. from S. 5th to S. 6th – $35,639.

Harrison St. from N. 5th to N. 6th – $13,231. 

Grand Total for all streets needing repair is $287,350.

Amount budgeted for streets this year is $138,672. which is what the state provides based on $81. per current population of 1,712.

After alot of joking and playing around the council asked Mr. Airhart what streets he wanted to do.  The discussion then digressed into who was responsible for deciding which streets were done.  Why Mr. Airhart had to ask council permission to get bids on street projects? And why he wasn’t deciding what gets done with the money budgeted for Streets?

At this point the council decided to make a motion to accept the Gimes Asphalt bid and to authorize Mr. Airhart to exercise his judgment and determine which streets get fixed as long a he did not exceed the $138 K budget.  The motion passed.

Mr. Airhart then passed out the bids he received from a couple of companies to clean the streets once a month regularly and 3 times a month during the fall when leaves are falling.  He then gave them bids on new and used street sweepers.  No decision was made on the subject but they would discuss it at the next regular meeting.  That ended the discussion on streets.   

The Bath House Bond Public Hearing And Vote

Posted in Council Meetings at 9:15 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The Mayor opened the public hearing on the Bath House Bond.  No one showed up to speak for or against the bond.  The hearing was closed and the council voted to approve all the associated resolutions.

The council then approved a 1st payment to Mr. Sargent for $21 K.

______________________________________________________________

My Thoughts on this Issue.

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone.

Any one who wants to question why I did not address the council should know that I had nothing new to say.  Even if I did it would have made absolutely no difference.  The council’s refusal to place the bond on the November Ballot then turn around and produce a bond that does not allow citizens to petition their government shows the extent to which they will stoop to deny you your 1st amendment rights.  The only hope of swaying them from their plan was if a hundred or more people had shown up for the hearing.  Since that did not happen I chose not to waste my breath. 

At some point each and every one of you are going to have to begin standing up for your rights.  I can not fight these battles by myself for you.  I did not spend all those years sworn to protect and defend the Constitution on the United States to come home to such a blatant disregard of my Constitutional Rights.   You should not settle for living less of a life by allowing your rights to be ignored or negated.  The writing is on the wall people.  The longer you delay in taking action the harder the fight will be to re-secure them. 

The country as a whole is being led down a slippery path with the Congress and President eroding personnal liberty by mandating the National ID Card, the repeal of Habeas Corpus, unlimited wiretaps and electronic eavesdropping and don’t forget about the ID Chip.  I was born in freedom and I will always defend freedom.  That is my personnal choice.  I have decided where my line in the sand is.  You must decided where yours is.  You have to start some where.  It might as well be right here where you live and it means something immediate to you and your family.  It is your hard earned money they are spending.  How long are you going to allow the council to ignore and disregard your rights?  Think about it.  

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