Pool committee speaks to council

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council, at its regular monthly meeting on July 3, heard a presentation from the swimming pool committee.

Mayor Russ Loven led council  members Steve Friedlein, Jane Parker, Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub and Austin Greve through the agenda. Assistant City Manager Jamie Blume was also in attendance.

Pool committee presentation

Members of the Guttenberg Wave of the Future pool committee and representatives from the consulting firm of Burbach Aquatics presented plans to renovate the aging municipal swimming pool.

Committee members speaking to the council included Jessica Cline, Bec Knudtson (co-chairs), Al Ullerich, Dr. John Barron, Deb Moser and MJ Smith. Not present were members Mary Streich and Molly Moser.  Council member Jane Parker is also a committee member.

The 43-year-old pool has been the focus of current concern since 2013 when the pool committee was formed. "We have done our homework and consulted with experts," said Knudtson. "Now is the time; the need is critical."

Each pool member spoke on their personal history with the pool, and touched on various facets of the project. It was noted that the pool is currently leaking 10,000-12,000 gallons of water a day. Plans call for a new pool to be replaced at its current footprint. Features of a proposed renovation were presented, including plans for a new bathhouse.

Drawings of two conceptual site plans prepared by Burbach Aquatics were displayed. Proposed financing for the facility, estimated to cost $3.55 to $4.05 million, would involve a mix of funds raised through a bond vote, along with private fund-raising, grant applications and other miscellaneous sources. 

The committee asked for and received council approval of its recommendations so that the project can move forward.  The group plans to conduct several open house events for community feedback. The timeline calls for a bond vote in March and the tentative start of construction in late Aug. 2018. (See related story p. 2)

Hospital Task Force update

Bill Allyn of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital Task Force updated the council on a recent decision by the hospital board to move forward with alignment of the local hospital with Mercy Health Network of Des Moines (see page 1 July 5 issue and page 4 of this week's issue). In response to a question from Councilman Schaub, Allyn clarified the wording of a news release that appeared in a daily newspaper. Some readers mistakenly misinterpreted a phrase referring to a two-year time frame to mean that the hospital might change ownership at the end of that time. Allyn said the phrase referred to the length of the initial alignment agreement. He said that the change is expected to take place this fall and that there would be no change of corporate structure and no transfer of assets. "It's basically what we have now with another health care system," said Allyn. 

City manager search

The council made plans to move forward on the hiring of a city manager/city clerk. Mayor Loven reported that at the public forum held last month to discuss the topic, the majority of those in attendance preferred to retain the city manager-council-mayor form of government. Four applicants have responded to advertisement, and the council planned to set up interviews with the applicants.  

Fish sculpture

The council took no action on an agenda item to approve the park board's recommendation that a 16-ft. walleye sculpture be placed in the park in the 500 block of South River Park Drive. The sculpture project is the result of a Scenic Byways initiative and will be funded by grants and private donations. Mike Hefel, who owns a riverfront business there,  expressed opposition to the location, and suggested other sites. It was noted that the grant requires the sculpture to be placed in the historic district near the river. A motion to place the sculpture according to the park board's recommendation died for lack of a second. 

UTV request

Several UTV riders were in attendance to ask that the council allow UTV's to operate within the city limits. Ron Heldt, a resident of Paradise Valley, gave a presentation describing UTV's and their popularity with campers. Heldt touched on the high points of the recent ordinance passed by Clayton County that allows UTVs to travel on county gravel roads. Daryl Koehn, an Elkader city council member, spoke on his community's decision to allow UTVs in the city. "It seems to be an up and coming thing with all the campgrounds," said Koehn. "They are a good source of revenue for our shops." Heldt said the group has not looked specifically at the route to gain access to Guttenberg within the restrictions of the county ordinance, but would "figure that out," if they receive city approval. The council took no action since it was listed on the agenda as a discussion item, and the matter was tabled until the August meeting.

Other business

The Guttenberg city office will  be closed to the public for two hours a day on a trial basis, opening at 10 a.m. rather than 8 a.m., to allow city staff to work with minimum interruptions.

The council approved the purchase of two more planters for the city park, as well as the purchase of a mower  attachment at a cost of $26,572.

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