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Old poles, new issues

Council enters into services agreement with Veenstra and Kimm to improve downtown

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:14 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:42 a.m. CDT
Caption
OST photo by AMY HANSEN Pictured is a streetscape poster by Veenstra and Kimm, an engineering services company, depicting downtown infrastructure improvements in cities throughout Iowa.

One light pole falling over can lead to a lot of extra and unforeseen work for city officials.

This was the case when a light pole fell over on West Jefferson Street in downtown Osceola Feb. 27. The street light hit a parked vehicle and caused damage. It also brought down Christmas lights and power lines.

“In talking with our insurer on the issue, and explaining it wasn’t blown down by wind or hit, and it was, in fact, the second one we’ve had come down on its own, they were concerned and felt that there was an issue that needed to be taken care of immediately,” said Ty Wheeler, city administrator/clerk, during a March 4 Osceola City Council meeting.

Wheeler said the old and damaged poles are being replaced. However, the downtown corridor issue goes back to the city’s work session in October where council members looked at downtown structures, street lights, crosswalks and ramps and cited several problems.

Safety issues

“I think, at that time, we were still looking at it through the lens of a downtown beautification project, and, I think, we’ve crossed over into a public-safety issue where we need to elevate this on the priority list so we can get these things taken care of,” Wheeler said.

At a previous council meeting, the city asked officials with Veenstra and Kimm, an engineering services company, to prepare a professional services agreement to address the downtown infrastructure and tie it into the city’s comprehensive plan, including its safe routes to school and city trail system plans.

A streetscape design, research and estimates would need to be in place before the city commits to any construction.

“So, the bottom line is, this is a lot more complex of a project than just replacing a pole,” said Councilman Dr. George Fotiadis. “And, the fact is, we’ve now had a couple of poles come down simply because they’re worn out, and not necessarily because anything happened other than just random luck it fell.”

Approval

The council approved entering a professional services agreement improving the downtown corridor with Veenstra and Kimm.

“The caveat with a project like this, because we added it to our urban-renewal plan, it does open up some different funding avenues that we wouldn’t have with a normal street project,” Wheeler said. “There’s also some local grant opportunities that look promising. So, we might not actually be financing it quite the traditional way.”

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