City pursues former Energy building buyout

The City of Monticello is in the process of pursuing demolition of the old Energy factory in Monticello. Located at the corner of E. First Street and Main Street, the building is owned by the Welter family, and has seen numerous flood events in its time. The land will eventually be turned into green space. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The City of Monticello is one step closer to possibly seeing the demolition of the former Energy building.

     Located at the corner of Main Street and E. First Street, the building is owned by the Welter family.

     During a special Monticello City Council meeting on Aug. 31, the council approved the buyout of the Energy building. This requires a 15 percent ($60,000) match. The resolution also included moving forward with the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

     City Administrator Doug Herman explained he wasn’t sure whether he could even get the building appraised right now, but a source came through, allowing the city to meet the tight deadline for the grant. It now goes to FEMA for approval, because the facility lies within the floodplain.

     Ron and Dave Welter were both present at the meeting. Ron said they’ve had to clean the facility up on five different occasions since 1993, stemming from flood events.

     “We’re ready to move forward,” Ron commented on the buyout program.

     The city has successfully taken part in two different flood buyout programs: 2002 and 2010. In 2002, the city purchased two separate properties. In 2010, the buyouts amounted to 10 including commercial and residential.

     The assessed value on the old Energy building is $215,000. The appraised value, which the city’s 15 percent cost share is based, is $211,000. Herman informed the council that the Welters voluntarily agreed to a purchase price of $67,275.

     This amount helps to cover demolition, asbestos inspection and removal, abatement, and any administration costs.

     Council member Tom Yeoman inquired as to where the city would come up with the purchase funds.

     “From the city’s General Fund appropriation,” explained Herman. “We finished last year with a really good balance.”

     Herman said if the city isn’t successful with the Hazard Mitigation Grant, he is also pursuing two other grants through Iowa Homeland Security.

     In terms of a timeframe, should the city be successful with any grant right now, Herman said he expects things to be wrapped up by 2022.

     The end result for the space after demolition would be green space. Herman explained FEMA would likely not allow further development of the land, unless it was something water could flow freely through.

     “Restrictions say nothing can be rebuilt,” he said. “It needs to remain open floodplain.”

     Some ideas for the green space included extension of the disc golf course, city property for the Willow Trail extension, prairie grassland, or an open-air amphitheater for outdoor entertainment.

     During the council’s goal setting workshop in July, they identified older sites in town that need to be cleaned up and redeveloped. This project would help accomplish that.

     “It would be nice to possibly do something with what’s left of it,” noted Council member Dave Goedken.

     “Anything can be saved,” Herman said, if even a segment of the building. However, he said FEMA would only cover a portion of the demolition and the city would have the fund rehabbing the remaining portion of the building.

     “But we don’t know the condition of the building,” added Herman. “If we go that direction, the (Hazard Mitigation) grant is off the table, which the Welters were agreeable to.

     “It’s ideal for green space,” commented Yeoman.


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