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While coronavirus was not on their agenda, the fallout from the pandemic was certainly on the minds of Mount Ayr city councilmen at their meeting Monday, March 16.
The council held considerable discussion about potential interventions to address the situation at the local level, including the opening of the Little League and swimming pool seasons, providing daycare for city employees absent due to illness and/or child care responsibilities, maintaining city services, dealing with delinquent water bills for residents left unemployed, and other contingencies.
The council announced it intention to follow guidelines from state health organizations, and as those guidelines change, the city will follow suit.
[As 10:18 a.m. Tuesday morning, the governor’s office sent out the directive closing all bars, restaurants, theaters, fitness centers, gaming facilities, and senior citizen centers. Furthermore, social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are prohibited at all locations and venues, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of this disaster.]
One immediate local change limits walk-in traffic at city hall. The doors will remain locked for the forseeable future, and residents are asked to call ahead if they need access to city personnel. Residents are also asked to use the outside dropbox to pay bills or to deliver other correspondence.
A notice on page 2 of today’s Record-News outlines the city’s recommendations as of this week.
The council discussed at length a proposal to relocate a vacant house that has been donated to the city to a city-owned lot at 206 E. Jefferson Street.
The purpose of the move would be to refurbish and eventually sell the house, with profits going to a plan to provide seed money for other housing start-ups.
In the public forum portion of the meeting, Leza Johnson asked the council to consider selling the vacant lot, which sits adjacent to their property. She said house that formerly sat on the property was small, and she questioned if the donated house would fit well on that property. Johnson said acquiring the lot would provide additional yard space for her property and increase the value of her property.
In a later discussion, the council took Johnson’s remarks into consideration as they pondered their next move on the project.
City superintendent Brent Wise provided cost estimates for moving and refurbishing the house, which totaled over $50,000.
Councilman Brent Ricker said he knew of another lot whose owner would be willing to donate to the city for the project. The second lot sat on a corner and would provide a better location for the relocated house.
Wise said he would explore the second option and report back at the April 6 council meeting. He added, however, the council would need to make a decision on a location soon because the owner of the donated house wants it off his property so he can begin construction of a new home at that site.
Pool planning study
Wise shared with the council the request from David Stone with Stone Planning concerning the recently completed feasibility study for a pool/recreational facility.
Stone would like to make a final presentation to the council and other interested stakeholders on his company’s recommendations for a facility. However, due to concerns with the coronavirus outbreak,
Stone would like to conduct that presentation via a video conference.
The council discussed logistics of such a presentation, including when and where to hold it and who should be in attendance, considering guidelines against large gatherings.
The council eventually decided to postpone a meeting with Stone until the virus threat minimizes.
In other business, the council:
• approved a quote from the Suez company to power wash the blue water at a cost of $7,500.
• approved a pay request from Crain Construction for work on the water system project in the amount of $16,470.15. In turn, the council approved drawdowns from the State Revolving Fund loan of $16,144.79 and $4,036 from the CBDG grant to cover the payment plus engineering fees.
• approved changes to the city employee handbook effective April 1. The motion included the inclusion of new job descriptions for employees.
• reviewed an amended city ordinance pertaining to the city park and recreation board. The first reading of the amended ordinance will come at the April 6 council meeting.