There was no public input at the April 20 West Liberty City Council meeting as a new housing development in the community got the green light, the council hosting a public hearing on changing zoning on 11.46 acres of property from agriculture to mixed residential.
Located on the northeast corner of Rainbow Drive and Garfield Avenue on the northeast edge of West Liberty, land owner Buysse Enterprise LLC of West Liberty will likely get approval from the council on Tuesday night, May 4, finding no opposition to the highly-anticipated development just north of the Subway restaurant.
Tentatively, the development includes eight single family home lots, 20 lots for duplexes and two multi-family lots. Infrastructure construction by the city and developers could begin as early as June and would include a tax increment financing plan for the development while the city will also have to amend the city’s Urban Renewal plan through a URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) plan amendment and development agreement.
Plans call for a U-shaped street to be built on the land, with both entrances coming off Rainbow Drive. The eight single family lots will rise to the east side of the subdivision while 10 duplexes will rise on the north and west sides of the subdivision. Multi-family complexes are anticipated to be built on the south side adjacent to Rainbow Drive.
The land is owned by Andy Buysse, who is being aide by developer Brad Akers.
Kara McFerren of the city council questioned if the ordinance included parking allowances, concerned about the multi-family complexes and Leo Foley, the city engineer, said his firm hadn’t looking into plans for parking, but said “we will” as final drafts of the project move forward.
In other development business for the council, it was noted final plans for a retention area are being looked into for DeePak Giri’s Ultra Ventures #3 apartment complexes planned for this summer.
Parking and vehicle traffic issues are also being worked out for the Short Street development on the southwest corner of West Liberty.
Approve Latino Festival
In other business, the city unanimously approved the annual West Liberty Latino Festival hosted by Latino Unidos to be held on Sept. 11 in the downtown area on Third Street in a request made by promoter Francisco Martinez. It was pointed out while it’s anticipated most attendees to the event should be COVID-19 vaccinated by then, they will still be required to wear masks. The event was not held last fall due to the pandemic.
The festival, which attracts Latino music lovers from throughout Eastern Iowa, offers live music, traditional food and drink and fun for the whole family.
The city also approved a request by Gabrielle Lopez for use of public streets for a horse and carriage on April 24 in honor of her 15th birthday celebration.
Getting federal stimulus dollars
Leo Foley, the city’s engineer representing Veenstra & Kimm, said he is trying to find out more about the federal infrastructure package that was part of the last stimulus package authorized in Washington. West Liberty is slated to gain over $500,000 in funding from that package, although it has not been pinpointed how the money can be used.
Foley also said another $16,000 needs to be spent on final studies of the city’s water Well #2, which has not been used in years. He called the investment a “good expenditure” and hoped to be able to have the project ready for approval in May to put the well producing again.
Lots of leader candidates
The city is also in the middle of a pair of personnel searches for two key positions – city manager and chief of police. The screening process is underway for the dozens of candidates applying for the two separate positions, anticipated to be presented to the council at their May 18 meeting. In person interviews will be conducted on Thursday, June 10 for the chief of police position while the city manager finalists will come to West Liberty on Thursday, June 17.
Interim city manager Liz Hansen said there were 29 candidates vieing for the police chief position while 38 candidates have applied for city manager.
Dave Lira is the present interim police chief after Jeremy Burdess left the position earlier this year after replacing Kary Kinmonth. Hansen replaced interim city manager Lee Geertz after the city clerk had replaced Lawrence McNaul, who took a county managerial position in Florida.
Restoration project moving forward
It was also noted the nearly $500,000 restoration project of city hall is progressing well, the city utilizing the WeLead building on third street as a temporary headquarters for staff. The police department, which is still utilizing the city hall building, will be moved to the south end of the building in mid-June and it was hoped the administrative team could be moved back into the Waldo C. Meyers Building “sometime in August” according to the city clerk.
In a report from contractor SG Construction Company of West Burlington, Daniel Situmeang said the project is ahead of schedule. The council chambers will be moved in the building and new restrooms are also being installed along with several offices and work areas.
The city also approved a resolution to adopt the Record Retention Manual for Iowa Cities and approval of official city documents for destruction.
The city also approved a nearly $7,000 change order on construction of the city hall remodeling project due to an increased price in the removal and reinstallation of ceilings in three rooms in the building.
The council also approved an expenditure of $45,500 for new mailing and sorting equipment for the new city hall, allowing a more efficient and fiscal option to processing utility billing, supply costs and labor. The equipment would replace a model purchased in 2013. The purchase will be made through Copy Systems Inc. of Coralville.