News Corydon City Council debates conversion of Highway 2 to three lanes
By Jason W. Selby
Sep 17, 2013, 09:53
Mayor Rodney Parham called the regular meeting of the Corydon City Council to order. Present were Council Members Jaeckel, Nessen and Relph. Holmes and Carpenter were absent. James Wiltamuth, Deidre Buttz, Shawna Robinson, Lisa Skinner, Paul Overton, Roy Benda, R.J. Olmstead and Christian Miller, as well as Tim Ehrich and Tim Crouch of the Iowa Department of Transportation were also present.
The council made a call out to the citizens of Corydon, looking for two people to run for the two open seats. No one has taken out papers yet except for the incumbents.
The council gave audience to Nichole Moore from Chariton Valley Planning and Development in relation to a CDBG grant. Relph asked whether the city could be certain to receive it.
“It’s a competitive grant,” Moore said. “It depends on how much the federal government wants to put into it. Your Low to Moderate Income (LMI) is a hindrance but also a benefit. As soon as we can get a publication in the newspaper, applications will be available at city hall.”
The motion was approved for an agreement between CVP and the city for this housing grant.
Conversion of Highway 2
The council voted to move forward for signage and paint at the corner of Dekalb and Highway 2. Crosswalks are planned at this intersection.
In a related matter, a survey of businesses along Highway 2 indicated willingness to convert to three lanes, with a turning lane in the middle. A group opposed to this conversion was not present. Some council members called for input from the public (the move to three lanes would be independent of the approved crosswalk near the high school).
Buttz listed both the positives and negatives of this setup. Positive benefits include improved vehicle and pedestrian safety, the calming of traffic, improved emergency response time and personal bike accommodation. Negatives include increased delay at the signalized access points, increased traffic delays and loss of passing opportunities.
Jaeckel voiced his opinion: “If we’ve had one accident in 20 years—if there’s one in the next five years—by virtue of this fact alone, it will have been a mistake. There is very little reason to change based on pedestrian safety. Very little. Twenty years with one accident—that’s not bad.
“I think your intentions are good. And based on business reactions, the community would like this to happen.”
Relph noted that change was not a mandate. He wondered if the Department of Transportation was in favor.
“We’re here to listen,” Ehrich said noncommittally.
Parham steered discussion back to the original plan, children passing from Southern Iowa Oil to the high school and back.
“You’re still going to need stop signs.” Parham said. “I’m not against a three-lane. I’m against not having stop signs during school time.”
Jaeckel wondered how many changes were being proposed. Parham explained there would be a yellow flashing beacon at the intersection.
“Apart from the time school’s in, there’s a lot of traffic at [the Southern Iowa Oil intersection],” Parham said. “Right now, it’s a dead sprint across all four lanes. Crosswalks will slow people down.”
Ehrich referenced a grant to cover sidewalk and paint.
“I’m involved in construction for the district,” he said. “The DOT does not have the capability or the equipment to remove existing pavement markings. We’re looking at, at the earliest, a December wedding.”
He added painting could not proceed at temperatures below 32 degrees. Work would probably not begin until the spring of 2014. The DOT would need to be creative to get signs done this year, and prudent to assume the earliest date as spring. Parham wondered if the DOT was responsible for all costs. Ehrich said once they got the request letter for the grant, then it could be determined.
Ehrich added that signs for three lanes would work for four lanes.
“We have a lot more details to work out before we make a decision,” Parham said, of the proposed move to three lanes.
“We have to keep our minds open as far as what the community wants,” Relph added. “I’ve been known to say a new pair of shoes might be really nice, but we don’t necessarily need them.”
317 North Johnston residence
Paul Overton requested an audience with the council. On July 16, the court ordered him to finish cleaning up a property he owns in absentee by Sept. 16. He must cap the sewer, clean up rubbish, secure a cistern and fill in a low spot where the house once stood. Overton reported he did not have the funds, and asked the city for leniency. He paid $6000 to tear the house down on borrowed money, and has maintained property taxes, though he could have got rid of it in a tax sale. He is currently attempting to sell the land, with no offers.
“I understand where the city’s coming from,” Overton said, “I just don’t know what to do.”
“When it becomes a judicial order,” Parham responded, “they’re in charge of it, we’re not. You have to talk to the judge. If it’s not done in that time frame, it’s contempt of court.
“We have taken possession of properties. Do we want them? No. Just trying to clean it up and move on. We aren’t out to keep them.”
The council advised Overton to speak with a lawyer. He asked what is the precedent for his sort of situation.
“We send a letter,” Jaeckel said. “When none of that is effective, we turn it over to a higher authority.”
Disagreement concerning alley closure
After learning of a proposal to close an alley near or upon his property, resident R.J. Olmstead met with the council. He was concerned this motion would affect his business.
“I thought this [discussion] was over,” he said.
Olmstead’s land and Roy Benda’s land run along an alleyway that—because of outdated surveying—even the city is uncertain of exact ownership. Olmstead said that he maintained and plowed the alley of snow in the winter, saving the city the expense of upkeep. Benda felt rubbish was accumulating on his property because of the alley, and would like to see it closed. Olmstead disagreed with Benda on the amount of traffic, saying Benda had inflated the actual volume to sound worse than it actually was. Olmstead also had an issue with the trim of the trees, which he says prevents proper sightlines for oncoming cars.
Earlier, in order to prevent traffic from passing through the alley, Olmstead had parked a flatbed trailer across the path. However, he received complaints, and therefore removed the blockade. The council asked if this was by request of the city. Olmstead said it was not.
“If our officer hasn’t told you to move the trailer,” Parham said, “then don’t listen to Joe Blow.”
In order to reach a solution, the council chose to table the resolution to set a public hearing for closing the alley, until more investigation can be undertaken and property rights delineated.
Hail damages bids and other business
The council opened bids, which were in fact sealed, nearing the second hour of the meeting. Harlan Construction, Iowa Roofing Company, Cromer Contracting and Pershy Roofing submitted bids. Pershy Roofing offered the lowest price on all four proposed repair projects.
“I’m for Pershy across the board,” Jaeckel said, inquiring upon the company’s reputation from the rest of council.
Needing a quorum, Parham phoned Carpenter, who came into the meeting. With the necessary votes, the council approved contracting the repairs to Pershy Roofing.
The council voted to place—on the election ballot—a resolution imposing a tax for support of the public library, and a separate resolution imposing a tax to maintain Walden Park. They also approved the annual street report, and renewed The Flower Hutch’s liquor license.
City Supervisor Cusic asked permission to purchase a used sickle-bar mower. Permission was granted.
The city reported 14.5 hours of overtime at $350.74. Most of the overtime came as a result of the Old Settlers celebration.
The next regular meeting of the Corydon City Council will be Wed., Sept. 25 at 7:00 p.m.