Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 1, 2014

Plan update good idea, but not now says Kalona City Council

By Mary Zielinski | Jun 20, 2013

KALONA — Updating the 2006 Kalona Comprehensive Plan is a “good idea” Kalona council members agreed Monday, but not right now when Kalona has two to three major projects under consideration. The 2006 plan, which noted city administrator Ryan Schlabaugh, is about six years old, replaced the 1986 one and while he did not recommend waiting 20 years between updates suggested about half that time could be viable.
The recommendation to update the plan came from the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission’s June 5 meeting and, as a result of the recommendation, Schlabaugh contacted RDG of Des Moines (and Omaha, Nebraska) about doing a possible update.  RDG cited a fee of $28,175 to do it.
Mayor Ken Herington told the quorum of  P & Z members (Chairman Larry Christensen, Wesley Rich, Lori TeBockhorst and Ronald C. Slectha) at the council meeting Monday that “you’ve got to sell me on this,” noting that Kalona is involved in a possible 22 to 28 member English River Watershed Management Authority formation as well as exploring a possible partnership with the Mid-Prairie School District for a community/recreation center.
Council member Greg Schmidt, noting the planning involved in the watershed and center projects, said, “We will be paying three different groups to tell us the same thing “ something that could total $50,000.
Member Mark Robe agreed, saying “Paying two or three times is not good,” urging “hold back and wait” on the
results of the projects already underway.
There is an additional consideration since Kalona is also looking at flood mitigation efforts in the town, a direct result of the FEMA mapping that put a great deal of Kalona in a flood plain.
Rich referred to the flooding as a consideration for plan updates.
Member Jenelle Bender noted it was not the time to push an update, but that the city is not forgetting it, either.
Herington reiterated that it would be better to see what comes of the flood plain management efforts and what may result with the school district.
“We need more information,” and likened the recommendation to start the update now as “getting the cart before the horse.”
Council members agreed that the recommendation could be revisited after the first of the year.
He also noted that while Kalona is still growing, there has been a slow down, easily attributable to the general economic situation.  There also was agreement that Kalona residents should also be consulted about what they want for the city.
In regard to the watershed project, Schlabaugh reported on the June 11 meeting in North English attended by more than 40 people, including representatives from six water and soil conservation groups, the DNR and a number of landowners whose property adjoins the area.
“It was a good meeting,” he said that included reviewing the latest draft of the proposed 28E Agreement that could in 6 counties, 16 cities and six conservation groups in the proposed Management Authority.  Next meeting will be July 9, possibly in the North English Elementary School.
In other business, the council:
•received proposals from two design firms for a preliminary plan  for a community/recreation center in partnerhsip with the school district.  Schlabaugh explained, “it is not a bid plan,” and that the school district is proceeding with its plan with Shive-Hattery for a gym near the middle school.  He said that idea is that each determines what it needs, including square footage, then proceed to the next step.  After some discussion, the council agreed to hire Martin Gardner Architecture of Marion who estimated the cost between $7,000 and $12,000.  Funding  will be from the Low to Moderate Income fund;
•approved the third reading and passage of the amended burning ordinance that likely will go into effect July 1;
•renewed the lease for the Kalona Youth Organization for space in the city hall at $125 per month;
•approved a resolution to seek three mini grants from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF), ranging form $1,750 to $2,000;
•approved repainting downtown street (and city park) markings at a cost of $2,998; and
•approved the Consumer Confidence Report for Water Quality.  Schlabaugh noted “our water is very safe” and that the city had no violations at all.

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