Nick's Council Connection (2Sep2014)

Council Meeting Date: September 2, 2014camera.jpg

Council Meeting Location: City Hall, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Lots of quick hitters - Old Post Office, goal setting, Dry Run Creek, traffic lights, committee meeting broadcast and Willow Falls.

- Committee of the Whole (5:20pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA)-

There are four agenda items for Committee (the meeting before the cameras): (1) Chadwick Parking restrictions; (2) 'Use' considerations for the old Post Office; (3) Public Safety Goal Setting; and (4) Bills and Payroll. 1 & 4 are routine, I offer comments on 2 & 3.PostOffice3.jpg
On (2), the fact that we must continually revisit the Old Post Office further illustrates why the city should sell the asset. The Old Post Office will serve the private sector better than any conceivable government use. The city's desire to 'control' it, makes the public-private partnership increasingly and unnecessarily complex. In the committee meeting, we will explore ways to allow a fresh food market concept. The standing agreement and zoning requirements related to city property make a fresh market unworkable, a modern day travesty.
(3), Public Safety Goal Setting, marks the first director presentation for the annual, fall goal setting session. This will be the first time that Director Olson presents his vision and needs for the Public Safety department - an interesting time to be sure. For the next several meetings, department directors will give a 'state of the department' presentation outlining specific policy and capital needs. Council digests all this into an all-important goal setting document. Click here, 2015 Goal City Council Goals, to see last year's product. Why 2015? Our fiscal year runs from June 1 to July 30 - the fiscal year is defined by the fiscal calendar end point. The city celebrates the new year on June 1st; it's 2015 in City Hall! We will be setting goals for 2016 very soon.


-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA)-

Special Order of Business

DryRunErosion.jpgE.3) This item relates to Dry Run Creek improvements near the College. This is a hearing for a $2MM capital project that will realign the stream, mitigate erosion and improve storm water management. The project carries a higher price tag because easements and private property need to be acquired. General obligation bonds, storm water fees and grants will fund the project. It is necessary because the stream bank is falling into the creek.

Old Business

SohoNight.jpgF.1) For the 3rd and final reading, Council considers the relaxed Sidewalk Cafe ordinance. Since the early 2000's, sidewalk cafes have contributed to the unique character of the downtown. With the reading, we will relax some of the restrictions which should result in more cafe options on the street while reducing the compliance and operating costs to proprietors. This will encourage more use, enjoyment and safety of public sidewalks, promote pedestrian activity and contribute to the social/economic vitality in the downtown and Hill districts. 

New Business GreenhillTrafficLght.jpg

G.1.b) We set a hearing time for two more Greenhill Road traffic signals at Rownd and Prairie Parkway. The signals are in response to higher anticipated turning demand and pedestrian traffic in the coming years. Last March, council evaluated options for the entire Greenhill corridor with the goal of moving traffic more efficiently and safely (if you haven't noticed, the city moves increasingly slower because of the proliferation of signals). Round-abouts were proposed as a safe, more efficient solution, but construction costs make them cost prohibitive at this time. Greenhill Road has 15 years or more of useful life, it will be more prudent to revisit alternative traffic controls when full reconstruction becomes necessary.

camera.jpgG.1.c) I don't ordinarily comment on committee meetings, but this was one of the best. We reviewed council meeting procedures.  By the end of the meeting, we had agreed on a couple important points. First, we will start committee meetings at a consistent time, 5:30pm. For light agendas, we will have broader discussion on plans, policies and other matters of council interest. In addition, it appears we may finally be serious about televising 'the meeting before the meeting'. As many know, this is when the most productive conversation occurs, from the mundane parking request to controversial round-about considerations. This is an important step to increase openness, access and transparency. 

Resolution Calendar

WFCondo.JPGG.2.n) This item relates to the approval of the Willow Falls condominium project in the Oster Prairie development. I have received a considerable amount of correspondence, mostly the negative kind. Since this is a judicial matter, council can not discuss outside of public meetings which could be construed as ex parte communication (material communication with only one party to the benefit or detriment of the other party). At issue is the presence of potential rental development of higher density next to higher density owner-occupied units. This is nuanced because the development is fully contained within an MU (mixed-use) zoning district. The MU designation grants the developer greater latitude for any project contained within it. According to staff, the Willow Falls proposal meets all the requirements of the MU district.

-Nick's Briefs-

Take A Break - in observation of Labor Day, I am going to stop laboring over this blog and enjoy the sounds of family, friends and summer. Hope you enjoyed the weekend.

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