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City Council reviews draft agreement with CCADC for certified site

By Kelly Terpstra,

The Avenue of the Saints Development Park may be one step closer to fruition after a rough draft of an agreement between Charles City and the Charles City Area Development Corp. was presented to the City Council during a planning workshop Monday.

The agreement would have Charles City sell general obligation bonds to purchase 75 acres of real estate at a cost of $2.156 million. The bonds would be repaid with incremental tax dollars generated from the South Grand Urban Renewal TIF District, where the land is located.

The city would grant the property over to the CCADC to market and hopefully sell the state-certified site to an industry to locate there. Once the property was sold, that money would also be used to repay the city bonds.

“It’s gonna be a great site,” said City Administrator Steve Diers.

Charles City real estate agent Connie Parson said the site would be perfect for a distribution center.

“We’ll be one of a handful of sites in the state of Iowa that would actually be a certified site. That would make us extremely marketable, especially from a state standpoint as far as economic development is concerned,” said Parson.

The CCADC and Parson obtained an option to purchase the land from the current property owners, Steven and Diana Swartzrock and Rockland Enterprises LLC., at a purchase price of $28,500 per acre, or about $2.15 million, and the CCADC has been busy going through the detailed process necessary for the site to become state certified.

The proposed contract stipulates that the CCADC will use the proceeds of the grant to acquire the title of the property from the Swartzrocks by a date no later than Sept. 1.

“CCADC would have cost on maintenance, taxes, marketing and upkeep of the property,” said Diers.

The CCADC will also submit an annual report to the city on progress of the site per terms of the agreement. Council member DeLaine Freeseman suggested a bi-annual report of every six months. That annual report would be submitted to the city by Dec. 31, 2019.

In other action, the city and county continued to iron out issues regarding parking near the new $13.3 million county law enforcement center that could see ground being broken by the end of next month.

Floyd County is requesting on-street diagonal parking on Court Street. Several council members are in favor of parallel parking. City code discourages diagonal parking and an ordinance change would need to be approved in order for the county plans to go into effect.

“My biggest concern I’ve had all along is diagonal parking and backing out into traffic,” said Freeseman.

Where handicap-accessible parking and a crosswalk would be located are other concerns that were discussed at the workshop. Prochaska architect and project manager Curt Field has told the county that because of the slope of the ground from the south to the north edge of the property, handicapped parking may need to be on the street.

Mayor Dean Andrews was not in favor of moving the handicapped parking on-street and suggested keeping where it is located now – in the current north parking lot.

“It seems to me like putting it on the street is complicating things. If you could just leave it right in the parking lot where it is now, what’s the difference?” said Andrews. “It’s been that distance for 50 years.”

Andrews did support moving the crosswalk near the entrance of the new LEC. The current crosswalk runs in a straight line right from the north parking lot across Court Street into the north entrance of the courthouse, but that will no longer be the public entrance once the law enforcement center is constructed.

Floyd County Supervisor Linda Tjaden said it would be easier for elderly residents to park diagonally as opposed to parallel.

“I’m coming from a different perspective,” she said.

Floyd County Auditor Gloria Carr talked about the crosswalk and where employees would park in the current configuration and layout that Prochaska has presented to the county.

“If you don’t have a curb cut out at the street for all of this, there’s going to be a ramp at the crosswalk,” said Carr. “We envision everything on the Gilbert Street side will be employee parking because there’s no public entrance.”

Andrews said decisions will need to be made soon if construction on the LEC is to begin in approximately a month.

“We haven’t come to any conclusions, but I think we have all the issues on the table anyway,” said Andrews.

Other agenda items that were discussed are as follows:

– Diers ran down the proposed new transit agreement with NIACOG (North Iowa Area Council of Governments) that would begin July 1 of this year upon council approval. NIACOG reimburses the city for half of the service’s operating deficit under terms of the contract. The maximum amount of the contract is $207,000 and the estimated contribution by NIACOG is $51,000.

– Calhoun Burns and Associates has presented a final design agreement for $64,500 to help build the Charley Western Trail Bridge. Final plans are due to the Iowa Department of Transportation by Oct. 22. The city has secured $330,000 in federal funding and will also look to raise money via private donations and fundraisers.

– The city also plans on bidding out projects to help with the 2019 Drainage Improvement Project. The city plans on addressing three areas in town that have dealt with high-water issues. The first project is to improve the storm sewer drainage in the 1100 block of South Grand by Comet Bowl. A diversion ditch would also be constructed in the 500 and 600 blocks of J Street and work would be done on site drainage at the Charles City Arts Center.

– Street Superintendent Dirk Uetz was present to discuss the purchase of a new loader. His staff is recommending the purchase of a John Deere loader from Murphy Tractor out of Waterloo for $125,000.