Sheldon Council Votes Approval of Engineering Contract for Downtown Infrastructure Project

Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon City Council has voted to enter into an engineering agreement with McClure Engineering for the downtown Infrastructure project.

Derek Anderson, a representative of the engineering firm told the council that the next step will be for them to establish a preliminary plat of the proposed work, followed by a public noticed to property owners and chance for public input into their proposals. The council would have to give final approval to a final plat before any work would be done.

Much of the discussion was centered on the sidewalks and how property owners would be assessed. The council had previously indicated that they favored assessing each property eighty-one dollars per linear foot. There were many questions about the actual construction and if some of the new sidewalks that had been installed would need to be replaced. Anderson told the council at this time no one can say what each sidewalk situation would be.

The situation of corner lots was brought up by Councilman Dave Popkes who asked if they could agree to only assess for the front of those buildings. Duane Seehusen pointed out that his veterinary clinic has to install sidewalks on both the front and side of their property even though their customers did not use those on the side.

In answer to a question from Brad Hindt, the property owners would not be assessed for the area covered by the planned ‘bump-outs’ on the corners.

Anderson told the council that the ‘bump-outs’ would provide several benefits. They reduce the time pedestrians are on the street at an intersection, they are traffic calming, and add to the esthetic value of the downtown. Public Works Director Todd Uhl told the council the City crews would be able to clear the snow from the bump-outs while they were clearing the sidewalks.

The council approved the engineering contract on a vote of four to one with Seehusen voting ‘no’.

There also was considerable discussion about how the city would pay for its share of the project. Depending on how this is handled it may or may not be subject to a reverse referendum. A reverse referendum would mean that a petition could be filed to call for a vote of the people. A decision on this would be made later in the process. In this discussion councilman Ron Rensink voiced his opinion that the public has the right to take it to a vote if they wish.

Glenn Jongerius who owns property downtown Sheldon asked the council why business and property owners have not been informed about this project. The mayor responded by stating that letters were mailed out to all businesses and property owners and everyone had been invited to meetings about the project through the radio and newspaper. It was also pointed out that all council meetings are open to the public and there will be public hearings before any final decisions are made.

In answer to other questions, the Engineering firm representative said that they could get started with the work in the spring. The work would be done in increments which means that they would only work on one part of the downtown at a time. He said they would work with business owners to make sure there would be access to their stores throughout the project.

It is hoped that the majority of the work could be done by the end of the 2013 construction season.

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