Council Meeting Date: July 22, 2013
Council Meeting Location: City Hall, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
It has been a good week. I met with several constituents on wide and varied topics. I am continually amazed by the passion and commitment of Cedar Falls citizens. It fuels my own energy to serve. Below, I have outlined agenda items of interest (parking, betterment, collaboration...) and always a little more.
- Committee of the Whole (6:40pm-7:00pm, Mayor's Conference Room)-
We have two agenda items, Event Liability Insurance and Bills and Payroll. For the former, there are no supporting materials in the packet so I have no comments to offer. For the latter, I will scan the 71 pages of information and submit questions to staff on any item that attracts my attention. I have been doing this for several years and have built a decent understanding of the expense line items. For example, Adult Book purchases are just that, books intended for the adult collection in the library. There's no need to dig deeper on that one.
-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber)-
G.1.F) As the downtown continues to develop, its parking needs evolve as well. This item is a committee referral to study parking in the downtown district. Community Main Street (CMS) has generously offered funding assistance for the study. This is definitely worth studying, yet my only caution is that what may be perceived as a problem and solution today, may shift as the district changes (as it is before our eyes). While we consider the study, the city must maximize every on-street parking opportunity (i.e. add angled parking spots for reconstructed roads), review parking duration in sections where businesses have high turnover requirements (i.e. coffee shops), fee adjustments, all while collecting general parking observations and trends. One thing is certain, bicycle parking accommodation is excellent, a nice reward for 'the human power movement'.
Side Note: Jan Andersen recently stepped down from the Events and Promotions position with CMS. Jan was a tireless worker and has contributed to the vitality of the downtown in immeasurable ways. Her presence will be missed, but we can all wait with eager anticipation as she considers her next area of involvement.
G.1.g) This item is a memo regarding our required update to our 5-year Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP). It is required to qualify for FEMA benefits. With this iteration, Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments (INRCOG) will compile information from its planning jurisdiction as a "multi-jurisdictional plan". This is a wise approach as disaster response often requires mutual aide, not to mention the efficiencies gained from designing a response template - after all, best practices for hazard mitigation should not vary by city. Related to multi-jurisdictional planning, I will offer comment later this week on the update to our Emergency Communications System infrastructure - big money!
G.2.c) The Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitor's Bureau awards monetary Community Betterment grants based on a competitive application process. The recipients this year include Cedar Falls Community Theater (sound equipment), Cedar Falls Historical Society (school house signs), George Wyth State Park (concession stand repairs), Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley (operating expenses), and Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony (operating expenses). The V&T Commission reviews and recommends the applications and Council approves. I look more favorably upon grants for one-time projects or initiatives as signs, facilities, endowment, or one-time programming versus general operating expenses. 3rd party agencies shouldn't develop a year-over-year dependency on government funds since the funding stream can not be guaranteed, nor should government be in the role of judging the value of one agency's operational request over another. That said, there are very legitimate investments to make in the name of tourism and Cedar Falls has been a great steward of the Hotel/Motel Tax (7% since April 1, 1988). The Betterment grants represent a small portion of the overall tax.
G.2.H) This agreement describes arrangements between the City and Wayne Engineering to collaborate on product development and marketing for a new Wayne product offering. It warms my heart to have this public-private collaboration to the mutual benefit of the city and Wayne Engineering.
G.2.Q) This item relates to the College Hill Overlay Standards. I've commented on these in a previous post June 24, 2013, post.
We will adjourn to discuss property acquisition per Iowa Code Section 25.5(1)
On Wednesday I had several 'city' meetings sprinkled into my work obligations. The last related to Emergency Communication Systems. The county and cities are looking at a $14,000,000 upgrade (actually a necessity) to support radio communications. This includes infrastructure (towers and broadcasters) down to the hand-held radio. Later this week, I will share my thoughts on the $14MM Emergency Communications systems being explored out of necessity. To be notified of its posting, follow my Nick's Council Facebook Page.
On my rides and runs...
Falls users know there is a big swim meet every July. This year the BLAST (Black Hawk Area Swim Team) was host to numerous out of town swimmers. It sure feels cool for all the little ones to take advantage of the Olympic size pool. This brings both money and goodwill to the community. The event is world-class.
It started as an idea. The idea gained traction. Overman Park took action. The Farmer's Market followed-up. And within a couple weeks, the traffic was calmed as expected. OPNA and The CF Farmer's Market acquired the sign according to the city's direction, a first of its kind. This is a simple ped safety and motorist calming/awareness device used all over the country with great success. The city isn't funding, but will advise on use and practice.
I have taken more than a few weekend rides on the Iowa country side. This past weekend it was Cow Appreciation Day. I took a moment to say thanks to an appreciative audience.
I couldn't dial into the meeting last week. While I make every effort to organize my work life around council life, I couldn't swing it in the mountains of Colorado. I did manage to find Iowa's own Buffalo Bill burial spot. I also enjoyed Red Rocks - one of the most amazing outdoor show spaces in our country.