By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
When it comes to cleaning up the City of Monticello, a lot could fall under the term “clean up.”
At the recent City Council meeting on Oct. 21, several city reports focused on multiple cleanup projects in and around the city.
Since the 2012 downtown fire, a lot has changed along First Street. The Monticello Carpet & Interiors building has come down and, according to City Administrator Doug Herman, there is a verbal agreement to rebuild.
Steve Intlekofer’s building was the first to come down. Herman also said there is a verbal agreement to give the lot over to the city. Tom Keleher’s building is also up in the air.
There is also talk about building a parking lot behind First Street, along E. Grand Street, with access to the businesses along First Street.
With so many unknowns, Herman advised the Council to postpone the public hearing that was scheduled for the Oct. 21 meeting on the downtown Urban Renewal Plan Amendment until more information is set in stone.
Offering his thoughts on the whole plan, Council member Bill Meyer said, “There is a lot of parking along First Street that is not being used. If business people are concerned, then we need to look at making one-way parking on side streets versus a parking lot.”
Council member Gave Goedken also commented that the parking lot next to the old Above & Beyond building is hardly used and needs to be redirected so traffic enters from Cedar Street/Highway 38 versus exiting onto a busy highway.
As of Oct. 15, the city is now the owner of the Oak Street Manufacturing building, which is set to be demolished within the next 90 days.
In an effort to clean the flood plain area up, the rear building of that property will be maintained as a shelter. There has been much talk about possibly using it for the Farmers Market.
There is a concrete pad south of the proposed shelter that the city is requesting from FEMA to remain on site. Herman said it could be used in coordination with the disc golf course for parking. If FEMA allows the concrete pad to remain, the demolition costs could be decreased as well because it won’t have to be torn out.
The city also needs to consider whether they want to plant more grass in that area versus adding gravel, which gets washed out during flooding in that area.
“Having more grass would give that area more of a park-feel,” commented Mayor Dena Himes. “You can do so much with grass.”
Herman also asked the Council to consider whether they want to keep both Willow and Locust streets in use.
“We could use the space for the disc golf course,” said Herman.
Willow Street, specifically, has been damaged by past flooding, and is in need of repairs.
“There’s no need for a street in a flood zone,” said Goedken in reference to Willow.
Additional town cleanup took place throughout the past couple of weeks where city signage is concerned. Mark Cigrand, with the city street department, spent much time driving around town, inspecting signs. Steps will be taken to note which signs are necessary and which ones could be removed to eliminate excess signs all over Monticello.
As part of this sign inspection process, Herman said there is a federal mandate all cities must follow where all signs must abide by retro-reflectivity standards. The city has about five years to comply. Herman said all signs must be reflective under this mandate, including city street name signs. Currently, the majority of the city’s street name signs fail under these standards.
The city has 800-900 signs, excluding Highway 38 signage. There are about 60-plus that could be eliminated.
“About 450-500 signs don’t meet the standard, though,” noted Herman.
The sign inspection was the first step in this process. The city won’t take immediate removal action right away.