City will apply for $600K in CDBG funds once again
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
“Second verse, same as the first.”
Mt. Pleasant City Council members borrowed the aforementioned lyric from Herman’s Hermits’ “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am” tune Wednesday night, taking another stab at gaining a community development block grant (CDBG) for the $2 million Jay Street sanitation sewer project.
Mt. Pleasant applied last year but was not successful. Like last year, the city is seeking $600,000 in grant funds.
Tracey Lamm of the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission (SEIRPC) told the council that she felt the city’s chances were good to receive the grant.
One of the major criterion in qualifying for the grant is the number of community households below the low and medium-income threshhold. To qualify for consideration, a community must have 51 percent of households below the threshhold, Lamm said, and Mt. Pleasant has 63.4 percent of its households in that category.
“I think the community is going to look very good with what has been accomplished the last several years,” Lamm said. “Brent (city administrator Brent Schleisman) and I found some ways to make it a more attractive application.”
Applications for the grant are due Nov. 13.
Some of those accomplishments enumerated by Lamm include:
• Over $1.5 million spent thus far to repair existing and install new sewer;
• The creation of 33 upper-story housing units for low- and moderate-income residents;
• Six active housing subdivisions for all income levels;
• Another upper-story housing project currently under way.
Mayor Steve Brimhall said that a resident is currently debating on the use for a 10-acre plot of land he has and is seeking the help of University of Iowa planners for the best use of the land. “Naturally, we think housing,” Brimhall said.
“There is definitely a need for low- and moderate-income housing housing in the community,” Lamm said.
It couldn’t be a spring, summer or fall council meeting without a construction update.
Brimhall said the traffic lights on Grand Avenue will remain as flashing red — at least for now. “We are going to continue to monitor it and if changes are needed, they will be down the road.”
Engineer Jim Warner of Warner Engineering Associates Inc. joined Brimhall in praising construction crews for their work on the Central Park project.
“We have a little bit of dirt to be moved, seed it and Mt. Pleasant Municipal Utilities has to put in the lights,” Warner said in summarizing remaining work to be done in the park. “It is an amazing project, I never thought we would get it done so quickly.”
Brimhall said that he is happy to see two-way traffic in the downtown area, adding the merchants were “pretty tolerant” during the construction period.
“I think that Mike Nelson and his crew (general contractor for the project) did their best not to inconvenience anyone. Mike would tell us at weekly construction meetings what he was going to do the next week and he always got it done,” Brimhall continued. “This project has really gone well and I am excited the construction season is nearly over.”
After receiving some feedback from adjoining property owners, the city passed the second reading of a proposed ordinance rezoning city-owned property north of Winfield Avenue and west of Grand Avenue from AP (agricultural-residential reserve) to B-3 (general retail and service commercial).
One resident expressed concern with what would be built there.
Schleisman said there are no immediate plans for the land. “Hopefully, development will occur sometime there, but nothing is in the works now.”
Rich Seberg asked about the access route to the property and also raised the possibility of his business (Courtesy Door) and others in the area being annexed into the city.
Schleisman liked the idea. “We would love to have that area in the city limits because right now two governments (city and count) control it.” Regarding access, Schleisman said that hasn’t even been discussed.
“There are no plans whatsoever (for the land in the proposed rezoned area). We have to get rid of that big rock pile soon. It is a $60,000 pile of rocks,” Brimhall said.
Council members also approved a change order for the Central Park project. The order increases the cost to $23,915.77, bringing the total cost of the work to $363,019.14.
Major expense incurred through the change order is using concrete as patching the outer lanes instead of asphalt. Using concrete speeded up the project by about a month. A gravity drain was also added to the fountain control box and the side of bench pads was increased.
“Most of this occurred because of unexpected things,” Councilman Stan Curtis said. “We you are working on things that are old, this stuff happens. The major change we made (substituting concrete for asphalt) got the streets done quicker and gave us a better product.”
Finally, the council passed a resolution supporting the Fellowship Cup in its efforts to apply for a Main Street Challenge Grant to recondition the front of the Quarter Maybe More Store.
The city also announced Trick or Treat Night in Mt. Pleasant will be Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5-7 p.m.
Council members meet again in regular session Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.