BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A preliminary report from a city official indicates a dock for a domestic Viking Cruise line stop in Fort Madison could cost the city $1.2 million.
The report is on the agenda for discussion at Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
According to a report to the Fort Madison City Council prepared by City Manager David Varley, a study done by a Madison engineering company indicated the cost of the dock would be $1.7 million including bonding, engineering, design, and construction.
Varley indicated in the memo that Viking Cruise Lines have initially agreed to pay $500,000 of the project, leaving the rest of the cost of the city.
Varley wrote the estimated cost of construction from SmithGroup was close to $1.21 million, but the $1.7 million “includes 6% for design and engineering and 1% for bonding costs”.
With the 7% added to the $1.21 million construction costs, the total cost would be $1.29 million. Varley didn’t include in the memo where the other $400,000 would be spent.
The city is currently working on an “Agreement to Lease” with Viking, but Varley indicated there are a few issues that need to be sorted out.
“We are still working on the Agreement to Lease with Viking because there are a few things we need to get clarified and some items we may want to change,” Varley wrote to the council.
“As a reminder, this first “Agreement to Lease” is a document stating the intentions of both parties and will be followed later by the actual Dock Lease.”
He wrote city staff is looking at options for the city’s share of the improvements.
The option in the conceptual plan from SmithGroup that is most favorable to city staff, would be to extend the current dock on the west side of Riverview Park farther into the river so the depth would be workable for the Viking Cruise ships.
The domestic cruises came back on the city’s radar in October, when Viking found a domestic builder, which was required under the Jones Act, which mandates the ships on U.S. waterways be built in the United States. Previous plans for U.S. cruises on the Mississippi were scrapped until the company found a builder in Louisiana.
Viking officials calculate that more than 160,000 people will cruise the Mississippi by the year 2027. Preliminary discussions have the city being compensated $1 in rent for each passenger that docks in Fort Madison.
Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the council will discuss the fate of the Rashid Memorial Building on the city’s west side, that currently houses the Fort Madison Food Pantry and an office for the United Way of the Great River Valley.
Councilman Matt Mohrfeld has recommended the city deed the building to the food pantry, but Varley wrote in a separate report to the council that Iowa law doesn’t allow the building to be donated unless it’s to another governmental agency, and any sale of the building has to be for fair market value.
Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the council is scheduled to:
- issue a response to Todd Oetken who asked the council to fire several police officers. Oetken alleged at the last council meeting, FMPD officers forced him from property at the Iowa State Penitentiary. Oetken claimed he was on public property and was harassed by officers.
- consider a request for retirement from Fort Madison Police Chief Tim Sittig effective July 1. Sittig has asked for his last day to be May 31.
- consider a sewer rate increase effective July 1, which could bump average customers rates by $6.07 per month. The proposal also includes a 2% annual increase starting July 2020.
- consider a request from Mary Hitchcock and William Sutcliffe to sever property at 2208 48th Street from the city.