Goedken urges cleaning of Sixth Street Ditch

City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Though it wasn’t on the June 15 Monticello City Council agenda, Council member Dave Goedken asked to address the city’s Sixth Street Ditch Project.

     “People are nervous about the condition of the water again,” he said, noting some recent heavy rains. “The ditch is almost full at Highway 38. Why not get something done?”

     Goedken said the city needs to tear out the trees and cement that are restricting flow inside the ditch on the east side of Highway 38.

     “We saw significant pushback when we tried to do things in the past,” noted Mayor Brian Wolken of the multi-year-long city project. “There was drastic pushback on (property) assessments.”

     City Administrator Doug Herman informed the council that he applied for a USDA watershed grant, with Economic Development Director Derek Lumsden’s assistance. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been on hold since March.

     “Hopefully this grant will make it easier for the city council to put money to the project and lower the assessments,” Herman said.

     Goedken said it’s likely another year will pass before anything is accomplished.

     “It needs to be dealt with,” he urged, “with improvements to the properties so there’s less damage from this additional water.”

In other city business:

     • During the open forum, Stu Gerdes, N. Sycamore Street, inquired as to when property owners would be able to plant trees following the recent street reconstruction project.

     Wolken and Herman said the city’s Tree Board is working on grants to purchase trees for those impacted by the project. However, COVID-19 kept the Tree Board from meeting in-person recently. Herman said they plan to meet before July 1.

     “The Tree Board will come up with the appropriate tree varieties and make them available at no cost to the property owners,” said Herman.

     “Now’s the time to plant,” said Gerdes. “There’s been an impact to the environment (with the removal of trees for the project). It looks like a wasteland.”

     Goedken reminded Gerdes that Second Street residents did not receive trees until two years after the street project was complete.

     • The council set a public hearing for Monday, July 6 at 6 p.m. on the city’s proposed Code of Ordinances.

     The process will require three separate readings by the council.

     • The council requested the abatement of future taxes on city-owned property, referring to the recently-purchased airport hangars.

     The city will pay the county the taxes accrued through the date of closing (Feb. 29, 2020), and request abatement on taxes accrued thereafter.

     The city collected taxes from Monticello Aviation through Feb. 29 totaling $1,746.

     Herman informed the council that they could ask the county to abate all taxes, or pay what was due, noting that Iowa Code allows for both options.

     “If we collected money for the purpose of paying taxes,” noted Council member Gary Feldmann, “we need to pay it.”

     • The council approved the sale and transfer of two Monticello Police Department vehicles to the airport and Parks and Rec.

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