City Council to discuss downtown sidewalks

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISOn – Mayor Matt Mohrfeld has put a discussion of the condition of the city’s downtown sidewalks in front of the City Council Tuesday night.

Mohrfeld said it’s time to have the discussion, but it’s a preliminary discussion to start looking into ways to improve the look of the downtown.

“This is just on there to start the conversation,” Mohrfeld said Friday. “But it’s a discussion that needs to be started. We have to begin looking at that situation and coming up with ideas, whatever that might look like.”

The city had a plan about four years ago to replace all the sidewalks and curbing with permeable pavers during former Mayor Brad Randolph’s tenure.

The funds were to be provided by a reimbursement of interest paid on about $27 million taken out with state revolving loan funds that were used to update the city’s waste water treatment plant.

The funding was part of a state program to encourage additional storm water mitigation efforts around the state. However, bids for the work came in way beyond engineering estimates to redo the north and south side sidewalks and curbing, and plans were eventually scrapped.

The funding was eventually used to rebuild four city-owned parking lots with permeable pavers that allow storm water to penetrate the surface and be asborbed into the subsurface and a buried capture that then moves and remaining water to the storm water system.

The city also had plans to replace Avenue G as part of a federal mandate through the Environmental Protection Agency to separate all storm and sanitary sewer lines in the state. The federal government didn’t apply any direct assistance for that work, however some America Rescue Plan Act funds can be used for those efforts. The timeline on the Avenue G project is fluid due to funding and mandate deadline extensions.

The sidewalks in downtown Fort Madison have heavy cracking, and crumbling of curbing is also present.

In an unrelated issue, the council will consider the first reading of an ordinance updating city building and fire codes. According to a report to the council, Fort Madison City manager David Varley said he, along with Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren, is recommending removing a requirement for a storm shelter in buildings, as well as removing the requirement for sprinkler systems in one and two family units.

The council will also hold a public hearing on redistricting to be done based on 2020 census data that will address a ward alignment shift due to population changes.

The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday night at City Hall.

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