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Back in early April, following a presentation by the JEO Consulting Group of Ankeny, the Mount Ayr city council thought they had found the experts who could finally move the city closer to building a new swimming.
At their meeting Tuesday, September 7, some council members weren’t so sure any longer.
Councilman Jordan Stewart expressed his frustration with the stalled pool plans.
We need “to get moving ahead with this pool project,” he said. “It seems to me like the engineering firm is just kind of pushing us around in a circle. We need to give a direction.”
Councilman Ken Robertson agreed.
“I don’t get why we’re not going forward instead of going back and looking at pools again that we’ve already looked at,” he said.
City administrator Brent Wise said he had been in contact with JEO in anticipation of the pool topic coming up at a council meeting. He said JEO plans to hold a virtual meeting with the pool committee September 22, followed by a group meeting October 6 with a potential final report coming November 22.
Councilman Brent Ricker spoke to his experience with the pool project.
“I’ve sat here for years and years and years, and you’re hearing the same stuff,” he said. “Let’s get something done. We don’t need all this planning crap. Let’s see the money. What’s it going to cost for basic and this and this?”
Ricker was referring to artist renderings of three sample designs left behind by JEO in April.
“We’ve had three or four surveys and they all come back the same, “ Ricker added. “Let’s make something happen.”
Councilman Brad Elliott stated the council needs to first determine what it can afford to build by itself without any outside contributions. That, he said, should be the starting point for further discussion.
“Until we know what funds are available, no matter what we do, is speculation,” Elliott said. “To me, before any further steps are taken it needs to be in writing that we’re going to be able to bond up to how much through the county or we need to build what the city can actually afford.”
Wise gave the council a brief overview of what funds could be available in the coming years as the city pays down its debt.
Wise asked the council who they wanted to make the final choice as to the pool’s design.
“The reason for these meetings is so you don’t have to do that,” he said. “I think the public has to have some input on the three choices, or should have.”
“History shows we keep having meetings and keep having meetings, but when it gets down to it, the financial part of it never gets brought up,” said Stewart. “We keep looking at pools and keep talking to these experts, but the money never gets brought up.”
Wise replied that he had given the council a paper that outlined every legal bonding option available to the city.
“I asked at that meeting [in April] how much a plain Jane pool was, just like we have out there with two diving boards, and I’ve yet to see it [a cost estimate],” said Ricker.
Elliott pointed to a lack of collective effort in the city and county needed to decide on a single pool design.
“There’s never a collective effort,” said Elliott. “Not enough people agree with one thing to get it done.”
He warned without that collective effort, “it won’t get built.”
Representatives from the urban planning firm Bolton and Menk met via Zoom with the council to discuss potential steps to revitalize the area surrounding the square.
Wise said his priorities for such efforts focus on such items as curb and gutter, keeping the brick streets, snow removal, lighting, and parking.
Urban planner Rose Schroder explained her firm’s capabilities to not only address those issues but also to present a cohesive vision and strategy to enhance other streets, sidewalks, trees, buildings and other features within the targeted area.
At the end of her presentation, the council gave Schroder the go ahead to present preliminary plans and cost estimates for a potential project.
In other business the council:
• set two public hearings. The first to be held at 7 p.m. September 20 concerns updating the city ordinance pertaining to increases for city garbage pickup.
The plan is to increase the garbage fee by 2 percent annually. The first increase would be effective July 1, 2022.
The second public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on October 4. it concerns changes in the city zoning ordinances as recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. In the meantime, letters will be sent to property owners affected by the proposed changes.
• approved a Class E liquor licenses renewal for Hy-Vee.