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Swearing-in ceremony at city council meeting

Two-year appointments also made for several city officials

December 23, 2015
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The Estherville City Council closed out 2015 by swearing in its mayor, Kenny Billings, for another term, as well as inducting new council member Brandon Carlin, and swearing in city clerks, city attorney, fire chief and city treasurer at Monday's meeting.

The council also looked ahead to the new year as it released its Goal Setting Report, facilitated by the Institute of Public Affairs from the University of Iowa. Among the city's major accomplishments the council identified: electric infrastructure improvements with new street lights, Park Road widening and resurfacing, bringing in Windsor Manor assisted living facility, acquiring land and property and demolishing five abandoned homes, keeping the city in sound financial condition, numerous park improvements, hiring economic development director, purchasing body cameras for police department and a rescue rig for the fire department, and increasing funding to the Estherville Public Library.

Among the issues and concerns for the council: aging infrastructure, compliance order from the DNR for the waste water treatment plant, governing rental property, addressing both a lack of high paying jobs and a lack of skilled labor, addressing population decline, and repurposing Roosevelt School.

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Jeff Schott of the Institute of Public Affairs recommends the city staff creates an action plan to define the steps needed to accomplish each goal, identify who is responsible, and establish a timeline for accomplishment.

The council also had a second reading of the one-way ordinance affecting the west 110 feet of the alley in block 51 (entering from South 6th St.). The purpose of the one-way traffic, as discussed at the last council meeting, would be to accommodate the drive-up window for Spice Market Cafe, the restaurant set to open in the spring in the Excel! building (old Penney's).

Debbie Rudd, owner of Outlet Store, read from a letter she submitted to the council about the concerns she and John Rudd have about alley traffic due to delivery trucks and the Rudds' own activities of loading and unloading items for the college and other customers. The Rudds' letter also expressed concern about safety - if there was an emergency in The Outlet and the front door was blocked, and there was a queue blocking the back door, it would present a safety hazard if the customers needed to be evacuated. The Rudds also questioned the assistance given to a new business when existing businesses seemed to be less supported, but clarified that they are not opposed to the new business going in, only to what seemed to be the lack of consideration regarding the drive-up window.

Elaine Quastad of Style Loft said, "I hope this coffee shop is extremely successful. I get questions about it all the time from my customers, and people are really excited." Quastad asked if a substantial increase in traffic to the window and its wear and tear on the alley would be assessed equally to surrounding businesses, or more to the business most benefiting from the alley.

City administrator Penny Clayton said, "We just redid the alley in 2012. We anticipate it will last a long time before it becomes an issue. The owner of the Penney's building at the time was assessed when the property was transferred," along with other surrounding businesses, Clayton said. For future alley repairs, the businesses would be assessed based on their access to it.

After the close of public comments, the council approved the second reading of the ordinance and deferred the third reading.

In other business, the council approved sign permit applications from K&E Transport and Egeland Redemption Center.



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