BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The first meeting of the newly structured Fort Madison City Council was highlighted by a move to put the construction of the PORT Connector Trail to Rodeo Park in action.
The Community Health Foundation, a joint venture of Great River Health System-Fort Madison Community Hospital, pledged $1.5 million to the project this summer.
The city serves as the pass-through for the money to get the work done. At Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, the council voted 6-0 to approve a professional services agreement for $214,000 with HR Green of Cedar Rapids for design and construction administration services for three segments of the trail.
Segment 1 will be built on the west side of 15th Street from Avenue B to Rodeo Park. Segment 2 will be constructed along the north side of Avenue B from the 15th Street to Fort Madison High School. A third segment is planned along 15th Street from Avenue H to Avenue G.
The City has placed segments 1 and 2 as priorities over segment 3.
Former Public Works Director Larry Driscoll was on hand to speak on the issue along with Tim Cutsforth of HR Green and Angie Budnik representing the Community Health Foundation.
“This is another example of the wonderful work the PORT committee does,” said City Manager David Varley.
“It’s a very ambitious group and I haven’t seen another group that can match the energy it has and the success it has had in raising funds. Their work has been phenomenol.”
Driscoll said segment one has to be done in 2020, as part of a commitment to the foundation as part of the grant. He also said the foundation reserves the right to name the trail as part of the donation.
Councilman Tyler Miller asked Driscoll how long the project would take to complete.
“I would think if everything went well from start to finish, 12 months for two segments would be acceptable,” he said.
“They are very committed to this project and obviously would like to see it. come to fruition,” Budnik added.
In an unrelated topic, Mayor Matt Mohrfeld made appointments of city council members to committee and commissions.
Kevin Rink was named Mayor Pro Tem and liaison to the Parks Dept. Mark Lair is the liaison to Planning and Zoning, and Historic Preservation commissions. Rusty Andrews was re-appointed to the Airport Commission. Rebecca Bowker will serve as a liaison to the Housing Authority.
Miller was named the city’s Property Activist to work on beautification efforts in the town. Rink was named the council’s Health Advocate and liaison with community health efforts. Andrews will wear that hat of Events and Activities Czar serving as a partner with the city’s events and festivals. Bowker will serve as a sustainability coach to make sure the city is being good stewards of resources. Bob Morawitz was tapped to be a partner with the city’s Neighborhood Watch groups.
In other action, the council:
• voted 6-0 to appoint Bruce Hardy to the Southeast Iowa Regional Economic Port Authority.
• set a public hearing for Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m. on the transfer of the Idol Rashid Property to Lee County as a step in deeding the property to the North Lee County Food Pantry.
• voted 6-0 to approve a first reading of an ordinance that would allow other city officials to sign Iowa Department of Transportation contracts. Typically, that was the responsibility of the mayor.