Sheldon, Iowa — There was a good turnout of business people, property owners and the general public Wednesday to hear details about the proposed downtown infrastructure project. Derrick Anderson of McClure Engineering explained that from the beginning they encouraged full re-construction in order to reduce the difference in the elevation of the streets and the sidewalks. Also they would make the downtown compliant with the American Disabilities Act. And of course, beautification of the downtown was also a priority.
Anderson showed where the bump-outs would be located, pointing out that at the request of the City Council they were smaller than the original plan. There was a good turnout of property owners, business people and the He also said the bump-outs would better define the crosswalks and twelve of them will have a tree in them. Planter boxes are not part of the engineer’s plan, but can be added later. According to the plan, the work would be done in phases with the first stage to begin June third with the final work completed by November 1st.
Since there is concern about the loss of downtown business during construction, SCDC Director Mark Gaul told the group that he is organizing a committee to work with the city and SCDC on a public awareness, and advertising campaign. Immediately after this meeting, the City Council room was filled with people ready to comment on the assessment process during a public hearing. In order to give everyone time to speak, each person was allowed up to three minutes. Al Kats told the council that he had been in favor of downtown improvements, but didn’t think he would be paying for it. He defined parking as a major concern and recommended all one way streets downtown with angle parking on both sides.
Eileen Marten, operator of His and Her Hair told the council that she has always been proud to be a part of the downtown but is opposed to the project. She said it might look beautiful in Sioux City or Omaha, but would not be cost effective in Sheldon. She is also worried that with her large assessment she might not be able to stay here.
The owner of the Ben Franklin Store, Phil Warnke told the council that he has talked to dozens of stores in other towns where this type of work had been done. He said that they had averaged a 25 to 30 percent drop in business during the construction…some lost up to ninety percent or closed completely. With this in mind, the assessments just add insult to injury. John Locke who with his wife Angie own the Locke’s of Hair building said the project is ‘neat looking’ but their assessment is ten thousand dollars and can’t see how they will get a return on this “investment.”Several other people addressed the council including Lori Letner who said she is absolutely for the project but questioned the assessment. She liked the one way street idea. She added, “we need to draw people downtown and then look nice for them”.
After the hearing, the four council members present, Hindt, Seehusen, Geels and Popkes all voted in favor of a Resolution of necessity concerning the Preliminary Assessment Plat and Schedule. It was explained that these are the maximum amounts that can be assessed. They could be lowered.
We’ll have more City Council news on later KIWA newscasts.