Chickens nearing roost in Kalona; project bid letting set
KALONA — As long as there are no roosters or objections from neighbors, chickens may get to roost in residential Kalona. Monday, the Kalona council agreed to consider application permits on a case-to-case basis provided there are no more than four chickens, and a proper coop within proper boundary lines. Another consideration is that the chicken habitat follow city zoning regulations. Action on an ordinance segment is expected at the next meeting. The council already is on record it will do three readings.
The next meeting, May 19, also will see action on a $250,000 budget amendment, reflecting additions in both revenue allocations (mainly from grants including $44,000 from Vision Iowa) and unexpected expenses. A public hearing for the issue is set for 7 p.m. and will be followed by a bid-letting at 7:15 p.m. for an estimated $85,000 renovation to the west side of the city Maintenance Building.
The renovation involves creating offices, storage spaces, restroom, break room and an addition for larger equipment. Plans call for the contractor “to provide us with a pretty good shell we can finish,” said City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh. The plan also includes “redoing the siding on the front of the building.” Work will be done this summer.
The council also discussed the annual drinking water permit, a state requirement, on which there currently is a moratorium. There is nothing wrong with Kalona’s water; the issue relates to the rural Amish-operated Stringtown Grocery, within the Kalona purview, that brings in water via tankers, explained Schlabaugh. In fact, the arrangement is the first in the state, he said, noting the water is tested daily with a report to Kalona monthly. For Kalona, the redrafting of the contract with Stringtown is geared to lessening liability.
In other business, the council:
• discussed the possible joint project with the Mid-Prairie School District that could see a new gym at the middle school and a new community center for the city. Martin Gardener Architecture of Marion has worked on the preliminary plans for the city and would continue with Phase 2 for $10,500. However, the council delayed any further action to — as council member Mark Robe noted — “see if Mid-Prairie is still on board.” Action for both sides had been halted until the M-P $10.6 million bond issue of April 1, which had no involvement with the proposed joint project. A committee meeting to discuss both sides’ positions will be held in June. Initially plans had included possibly housing the M-P Home School Assistance Program (HSAP) in a remodeled Kalona Community Center (a former M-P junior high that also houses the city hall). The HSAP instead will be a new five-classroom addition at the middle school. Mayor Ken Herington said, he had really wanted “to see the home school here,” and called the change “a major mistake.” A key issue was district ownership of the property;
• approved a three-year contract to continue auditing services with Gronewold, Bell, Kyhnn and Company at $9,600 annually;
• approved a resolution to amend the financing agreement between the city and the Iowa Finance Authority that will drop Kalona’s interest rate from 3 percent to 1.75 percent for the $503,000 Sewer Revenue Capital Loan note;
• learned that the Safe Routes to School program is under way. It is a partnership among the school, the city, and the county Public Health Department, funded by grants;
• learned that the municipal pool opens May 24; and
• learned there will be repairs made to the existing recreational facilities in the community center.