PORT path may prompt city to revise sidewalk codes


FORT MADISON – An amendment to the Fort Madison City Code may be written to protect residents living along a proposed addition to the PORT Trail system in the city.

During Tuesday’s regular Fort Madison City Council meeting, Public Works Director Mark Bousselot updated the council on the status of the new 10-foot path that will run from Fort Madison High School along Avenue B east from 18th Street to 15th Street and then up to Rodeo Park.

The project is being mostly financed by a $1.5 million Great River Health Systems Community Health Foundation grant. The city is the governmental agency that applies for state and federal grants and secures the construction and design services for the PORT group.

“We’re still missing a few segments of this project,” Bousselot said. “We’re still working on an easement with high school, and a 28E agreement with county.”

The Lee County Board of Supervisors discussed the issue earlier in the day after it was brought up during the public comment section.

Bousselot said after talking with City Manager David Varley, that an amendment will probably be drawn up that will relieve property owners of the responsibility of the trail, which will be built on the city easement where sidewalks are now.

Michael Chapman, who lives in the 1600 block of Avenue B told the council that responsibility for the trail path shouldn’t fall on residents for maintenance and repair like sidewalks do.

“Along Avenue B, as code reads now, we’d be responsible for removing snow and when water gets under the concrete and damages it, we’d be responsible for that, too,” Chapman said.

“I’m not against the trail itself, but you need a new code to define the trail system outside of the city’s sidewalk ordinance.”

Chapman also asked if all the trees on the north side of the street, where the path is proposed to run, would have to be removed.

Councilman Bob Morawitz asked if cuts could be provided to allow the trees to stay. Bousselot said that wasn’t in the plans, but there is talk of possibly reducing the path to 8 feet instead of 10 in some areas to accommodate some of those concerns.

The Foundation has a timeline behind the grant money and Bousselot said the project will be put out for bids this month.

“We need to keep moving forward with the bidding to meet the time frame the hospital laid out for us,” Bousselot said.

The trail will then turn north on 15th Street and travel along on the west side of the street up to Rodeo Park past Timberlane Drive.

Councilman Chad Cangas said the council should look a little deeper into an ordinance, but said there should be an amendment that would be a catch all for anything the city designates as part of the PORT trail system in the city to relieve residents of responsibilities associated with the path.

In a related issue, the city also approved Mayor Matt Mohrfeld’s signature on an agreement with Poepping, Stone, Bach, and Associates of Keokuk for staking and construction services for Phase 3 of the FMCH connector trail. That trail connects 48th Street west to the FMCH campus.

The cost of the services will be $37,110, bringing the total cost of the engineering agreement for the project to just over $60,000.

In other action, the council:

• approved a $100,000 change order for sewer and subsurface changes on the Avenue H reconstruction project bringing the total cost of the project to $2.5 million from the original contract of $2.39 million.

• approved the first reading of an amendment to the city’s Golf Carts, ATVs and UTV that changes the hours of operation section to include golf carts from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. It also amends registration requirements.

• voted 5-0 to reappoint Melinda Blind as the City Clerk through July 1, 2022.

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