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City council authorizes $1.8 million in sewer improvements

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, members voted unanimously to approve a $1.8 million loan needed for waste treatment improvements. This project represents the last step needed to clear a consent order in place between the city and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In 2010, Iowa DNR found the sewer system in Osceola was inadequate and unsafe, leading to untreated waste potentially pooling in ditches and ponds and on lawns. According to City Administrator Ty Wheeler, previous improvements have helped alleviate most sanitation problems.

The loan will be held by Clarke County State Bank, though Wheeler said it will likely be refinanced as part of a larger waste treatment plant replacement plan that must be completed by 2021. The larger project is expected to cost roughly $18 million and be financed through a low-interest USDA loan.

In addition, the council voted unanimously to go forward with a derelict building grant in conjunction with Osceola Chamber Main Street (OCMS). Funding would be used to stabilize and clear asbestos and mold from the building located between Murphy Law Office and Booth Law Firm downtown. If approved, the grant would provide up to $10,000 for asbestos abatement, in addition to a 50 percent match beyond that, according to OCMS Executive Director Derek Lumsden.

“We’re also applying for a $50,000 renovation grant which will help with stabilization of the building,” said Lumsden. “The amount requested from the DNR is $68,500. The cash match, which would be supplied by the city, is $98,988, for a total project cost of $167,488.”

“We looked at other options,” said At-Large Council member Dr. George Fotiadis, “including demolitioning and rebuilding. This is the best cost-option available.”

From quotes received from four roofers — three local and one based in Des Moines — Des Moines-area Academy Roofing was selected based on its ability to provide asbestos abatement along with roofing services. Of the companies that bid on mold remediation, Mid-Iowa Environmental was selected due to mold prevention services being included in the bid. Roster Tuckpointing was the only company that responded with a bid for building stabilization.

The city plans to sell the property once renovations are complete.

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