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Architectural firm discusses remodeling at 401 N. Main building

By Kelly Terpstra,

The building at 401 N. Main could soon be getting a facelift.

Mark Moine of Martin Gardner Architecture was at Wednesday’s Charles City Council planning session to talk about design work that is being done on the location that houses the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, Area Development Corp. and the Community Revite Group.

The makeover would include the replacement of windows and the front entry door, as well as an upgraded new vestibule area that would be open 24 hours a day for visitors to acquire pamphlets about Charles City.

“After hours, we would leave the Main Street exterior door open 24-7. We would lock the vestibule so visitors still have access to the pamphlets and so forth on the interior of that,” said Moine.

The project is estimated to cost just over $51,000. City Administrator Steve Diers said the city has saved $40,000 in the general fund to be able to go ahead with the work that has been proposed. The city also received a $10,000 hotel/max tax grant to assist in the funding.

The project will be on Monday’s regular City Council agenda and members will have to vote on final approval of the design work. Bids for construction would be released later that week. A proposed date of completion was listed as Aug. 30.

Moine said the proposed  vestibule would be three feet deeper than the current one. There would be wall-mounted racks inside the vestibule with pamphlets or brochures available to the public. The area would also be handicapped-accessible and heated.

“We want to incorporate the idea of a visitor’s information center,” said Diers.

The windows that would be replaced flank the north and south. Lettering on the outside of the building would also be a part of the project. The rear door to the building would also be replaced with an aluminum model.

Council member Keith Starr brought up the possibility of placing security cameras inside the vestibule. Diers said he has discussed the idea of cameras in that front entry way with Community Development Director Mark Wicks.

Mayor Dean Andrews also pointed out that the lighting in the main section of the building could be improved.

“I think that’s something we want to look at sometime,” he said.

Missing links in the sidewalk system and whether those could be fixed also was brought forth to the council. This possibility was raised as part of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Traffic Engineering Assistance (TEA) Program study. The Iowa DOT is proposing improvements to Highway 18 in Charles City and would like a response from the city on the amount of additional sidewalk that should be included in the state project.

Three sections could be addressed through this partnership with the state. Those areas are North Grand to Kelly Street, Clark Street to the North River Walkway and from L Street to the Charley Western Trail.

The DOT’s construction could begin in 2021.

Other discussion at the planning session included:

• Steve Lindaman, longtime Parks and Recreation director in Charles City, plans to retire in late May after more than 40 years on the job. Members of the Parks and Rec Board were present to get the council’s input on the future direction of that department as well as the responsibilities of the new director. Diers said he would advertise an opening for the position next week.

• A change in the city ordinance to allow abutting property owners the ability to trim their own trees in the right of way was also taken up.

• At a special meeting held before the planning session, a one-day loan of $188,338 for the fiscal year 2020 budget was approved.

• Diers also said the city is looking into the possible purchase of a Raiko icebreaker. The icebreaker is a roller with hardened cones on it that can break up ice and snow on city streets. Diers said the cost of the device would just be under $30,000 with the purchase of two units.