By Belle Plaine Mayor Dave Fish
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
Hang in their everyone, spring is coming!
Based on our preliminary budget hearings, it looks like the city’s property tax levy is dropping from $16.39 to $15.80 per thousand dollars of valuation next year. Hopefully, that will make everyone happy, but remember the city is not the only group that affects your property tax.
The city plan in the next couple of years is to remove more nuisance property, get back to doing more of our own in work in house, and finding a developer who is seriously interested in housing development in Belle Plaine. All positive goals but not always as easy to do as one might think. One person’s treasurer seems to be junk to other people, and the state court system does not always agree on what is a nuisance item!
The Herring Hotel is owned by the city, and the council has approved a historical RFP (Request for a Plan/Proposal) for the development of this property. If we cannot find a group or person, who can sell us on their RFP idea. We will then put out another RFP that deals with buying the property for urban development purposes. If that doesn’t work, then we will consider tearing it down and make a decision on what to do with the empty lot.
Because of the Brownfield grant cycle (grants for tearing down nuisance commercial property), the Herring will probably remain standing for at least another year. In the meantime, we will possibly attempt to make the corner a little more visible for traffic. The canopy will stay up to protect pedestrians from any falling debris. As for building a structure on this lot, it is somewhat limited because of its size and lack of parking. Also, it is a zero-lot-line property, which also makes it unique. Those people who ask is the City going to restore it to be a hotel, and the answer is no. That is what the RFP does.
We are looking for a group, company, or an individual who wishes to restore it to its historical nature.
Iowa Veterans Homes donations
I’m sure we all get a mailbox full of groups with great reasons on why you should donate to their cause. I do get amazed at how fast you give to a group, and within two months, they send you a follow-up request looking for even more money. Over Christmas, I always try to look for one or two special groups that I can do something for, and this year I found one that is not very far away from Belle Plaine. Somewhere in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I ran across donating to the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Of all the veteran groups I have seen, it never dawned on me to give to that group. What a great place: it goes to veterans who have served our country, and more than likely they are Iowans. Also, it is one of those forgotten facilities. So, in the future, think seriously about donating to an honorable organization. (Iowa Veterans Home, 1301 Summit Street, Marshalltown, Iowa 50158-5485) I got a great thank you from them and the offer to set up a tour during warmer weather.
I looked at last year’s March newsletter, where I responded to the quality of snow removal last year and where we hoped to make changes. We made the changes, and overall we have been happy with most of our snow removal efforts. Despite being satisfied this year, we are planning at least one equipment change that should make our efforts in the business areas of town a little better.
The biggest problem with snow removal is nature never looks at our time table and delivers the snow product on what works best for the city. It starts snowing when it wants, it delivers the type of product it wants to (freezing rain, slushy snow, or big snowflakes), in the amount it wants to give us and then stops and starts whenever it wants. So, no matter how well we put together a plan for snow removal in crucial areas of the community before morning traffic gets to those areas, if nature decides to disrupt the plan, we have to live with it. Overall, I believe we have done a better job this year, and hopefully, we can do even better next year. Now with that being said I hope we do not have any more major snow to deal with the rest of this year.
The City of Belle Plaine, in coordination with the Benton County Landfill & the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG), will be the test site for a household organics management program or, in other words, a home composting program. Those of you who have gardens or do a lot of flower beds may be familiar with the use of a compost bin or tumbler. The Landfill, along with the ECICOG education team, will be looking for about 50 residences to participate in the program (about 6% of our occupied households). The plan, when it goes into effect, will pay up to $75 for a compost bin and also provide a composting workshop. This program is in jeopardy of not happening because of a lack of participants. Currently, there are eight on the list, we need a minimum of 40, but really need the full 50.
If you are interested, we need you to sign up in the next six to eight weeks.
Congratulations to the wrestling program on a very successful season that included a South Iowa Cedar League championship, a Sectional Title, and three guys going to the State meet. Special Congratulations to Ethan Allie, Ethan Argo, & Chase Wickwire, who all followed their athletic dreams and made it to the state tournament.
Also, Congratulations to the Jazz Band on their success.
Special Congratulations to Coach Bob Yilek on his selection to the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame!
The winter seasons are about over, so hopefully, we can look forward to the start of track and golf season. Especially the fact that should bring us spring and warmer weather.
As Always, “Go Plainsmen.” Remember it is up to all of us to make Belle Plaine, the best hometown in Iowa!