Chamber exec says MP, county need more affordable housing
By MEGAN COOPER
Mt. Pleasant News
“There are not sufficient homes for sale in Mt. Pleasant and Henry County.” That is what Kiley Miller, Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance executive vice president, told the Henry County supervisors.
“We are very well positioned to be a commuter community, he wants a fertilizer plant, and she wants University of Iowa Hospitals, where do you live? Mt. Pleasant is the only place to commute,” Miller said.
According to the multiple listing service, there aren’t any houses to sell in this area. “Subsequently, we have had more houses on the market,” Miller added. Miller then attended a job fair and a local professional told him, “That the town needed more houses for sale.”
Miller’s research found that “rural Iowa communities face both supply and demand challenges in housing. Developers, confronting static prices and tight lending, have stopped building speculative homes, while stagnant populations and reduced workforce mobility limit buyers in the marketplace.
“It is also said that Mt. Pleasant and Henry County have houses that are priced higher than the market would dictate,” Miller said. A developer, John Woods, told Miller on a LinkedIn discussion, “I looked at listings on realtor.com and if the prices of the nine homes listed are a true indication, there should be a reasonable return on investment. They are building new homes here in the Salt Lake City area that are selling new in a similar price range.”
All of this information directed Miller to his next point. Henry County needs to do a market research analysis, which would be done by a real estate research firm. “This will help to decided whether the need for housing is real, or perceived, and most of all, what is it?” Miller said. “Retirees, entry level, that kind of need.”
The research could be done by a firm named Maxfield Research Inc. and if New London, Mt. Pleasant, Winfield, Wayland and rural Henry County get on board, the cost would be split five ways. As of right now, Mt. Pleasant, New London and rural Henry County are on board.
“This will help to find the housing need in the area and be able to answer questions,” Miller said. The point of all this? To find out exactly what the housing need is in Henry County, which could help with population growth. This analysis research will take 90 days once everything is a go.
“I see the merit in what you are doing, I would be looking at saying we could do equal shares no matter how many are involved, whether it is three, four, or five,” board Chairman Marc Lindeen said. The board will vote on this at Tuesday’s meeting.
The department heads also met during the meeting and gave updates about progress. Most of them said that “business was as usual” and didn’t have much to talk about.
Gary Dutsman, Henry County assessor, said his office will be going around to homes and doing assessments. The community should be aware that these people should have identification of some sort, so that it is known they are working with the Henry County assessors.
John Pullis, executive director of the Henry County Conservation Department, talked about the repairs on the Oakland Mills bridge. “Special interest in the bridge has been taken by FEMA,” Pullis said. “It looks like we will be eligible for hazard mitigation for the cement pads that were put in the campground, that will help minimize damage in future flooding incidents.
“Friends of Conservation donated up to $15,000 to upgrade the trail systems. The trails have been regraveled, packed and we hope to use tree sap dust control on the trails in order to seal the trails in order to lock things in,” Pullis continued.
The conservation department will also be working with Healthy Henry County Communities in order to add wellness to the trail systems.
“It will be a conservation trail talking about the different aspects of the trail as you walk through it, a wellness trail, it may say if you started at this point, and came to this marker, you should have walked this distance in 10 minutes and a self-guided trail that was a memorial to a gentleman that passed,” Pullis explained. This idea is the infancy stage as of right now, and will be developed further.
Sheriff Rich McNamee said that there were around “11,000 dispatch calls since the first of the year.” Also, some maintenance and painting has been taking place at the department. “Dispatch and deputies are fully staffed, except for the K-9 unit, but that will remain as is for now,” McNamee said.
The sheriff’s department will be acquiring new vehicles soon; one to replace the one that was damaged during the snowstorm and then two more will follow shortly.
“September is National Preparedness month,” said Walt Jackson, County Emergency Management. He wanted to inform the community about being prepared for emergencies. Jackson encouraged people to visit the website www.beready.iowa.gov in order to assess whether or not you are prepared for any type of emergency.
“In life, being prepared means making an emergency plan, building an emergency kit and being aware of the hazards that can impact you. Whether you are at home or at work, emergencies like tornadoes, flooding or winter storms can occur quickly and without warning. We can’t prevent emergencies, but we can prepare for them.” That message is what Jackson wanted to convey and it came from the website www.beready.iowa.gov.
Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss informed the board that work has been done on the low-water crossing. “Grading has been started and pipe has been laid, as well as cement, it’s going well,” Hotchkiss said.
Rick Van Winkle, Henry County Veteran Affairs, talked with commissioners at Old Threshers and said “people (veterans) are coming back. Not necessarily Henry County, but we are making contact with other states.”
On Nov. 7, at the Armory in Mt. Pleasant, there will be a service fair for veterans. “It will give veterans an opportunity to talk with specialist and to ask questions,” Van Winkle said. More information will come in October about this event.
The board will meet again on Tuesday, September 10 at 9 a.m.