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Charles City Council considers snowmobile use on replacement trail bridge

By Bob Steenson,

Members of the Charles City Council want more information before agreeing to allow the Iowa State Snowmobile Association to use the new Charley Western Recreation Trail bridge to be constructed by next fall.

The local snowmobile group’s members had used the old trail bridge over the Cedar River before it was demolished for safety reasons, and it proposed donating $35,000 toward the cost of the new bridge if it could continue that access with a formal agreement.

Charles City Administrator Steve Diers said at the council workshop meeting Monday night that the group had secured a $35,000 grant from the Iowa State Snowmobile Association that it proposed donating in exchange for a 20-year agreement giving the ISSA the right to cross the bridge in the winter.

The association would be responsible for repairing any damage that is caused by snowmobile use, but some council members were unsure how that would work.

Council member DeLaine Freeseman said that some snowmobiles with carbide on their skis and studs on their tracks can really scrape a concrete surface if they are used with insufficient snow.

He said he wasn’t sure how that kind of damage to concrete could be repaired.

Council member Phillip Knighten said he wasn’t sure the council had enough information to know the repercussions of the decision down the line.

The current ordinance for snowmobile use on public streets requires at least 1/10th of an inch of snow, said city attorney Brad Sloter, but council members agreed that’s probably inadequate.

Sloter said the agreement would allow the city to cancel the agreement in the future if the snowmobile club fails to meet the terms of the agreement, but it would be required to return part of the $35,000 on a pro rata basis if the cancellation wasn’t for cause.

Mayor Dean Andrews asked Diers or Sloter to get more information about possible damage, and to talk with members of the snowmobile club about what their criteria is when they ride across concrete and how soon they need a decision on the agreement.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

• Mayor Dean Andrews urged everyone to wear masks when in public and practice social distancing. He said the community could not mandate mask usage, but he wanted to reinforce its importance.

• Charles City Development Director Mark Wicks discussed two Main Street Facade Grant applications, one from the Floyd County Museum to remove three unusable and unsafe chimneys, at a cost of $18,600, and from North Iowa Lawn & Sport to replace a damaged garage door to match other doors in its building at 809 Wisconsin St., at a cost of $1,842.84.

The facade grant program will pay for half of the cost of approved projects, up to $10,000, Wicks said, so the museum is seeking $9,300 and North Iowa Lawn & Sport is seeking $921.42.

The council will consider the applications at its regular meeting next Monday.

• The council reviewed a letter of endorsement from the city for a $49.3 million expansion project at Cambrex Charles City Inc. The Southwest ByPass TIF District board will meet Thursday morning to discuss a $40,000 forgivable loan from the city, and the Charles City Area Development Corp. has already approved a $30,400 forgivable loan. Both of those together would provide the local match needed for $250,000 in state funding toward the project.

• Diers reported that talk continues between the city and Crown Point Builders of Garner to finish construction of single homes and duplexes on the remaining lots in the Parkside Villa development.