FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine: Hang in there, everyone; spring is on the way!
Belle Plaine Community Development Corporation started a new director this past month. As I type this newsletter, I’m not at liberty to give out the name yet, but it brings up the discussion topic of VOLUNTEERS!
I can imagine that if you belong to any group, there is a concern for membership. That can range anywhere from your church groups to volunteer coaches to support clubs of many organizations. One of the problems we see right now in Iowa, but probably nationwide, is a lack of volunteers. I can’t urge you enough to get involved. Community Events do not occur if we don’t have groups step up to do them. If the groups don’t have membership &/or volunteers, we can’t expect those events to happen. My prime example is the Belle Plaine Old Fashion Fourth of July! Without the Lions Club & BPCDC, where would that event be? The parade and the park events don’t just happen.
With that in mind, we are planning to have our annual July 3 activities on Main Street with the continuation of the Kids Fun Zone & the Car Show, and the bags tournament. Along with that is the annual street dance. All of this is usually spearheaded by the Belle Plaine Community Development Corporation. (BPCDC) They will need volunteers to make this happen, so if they call, please don’t turn them down, or if you have the urge to volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I won’t hand out the boards phone numbers, but if you want a phone number to call concerning volunteering, then either contact the city administrator, the city clerks, or the Mayor at City Hall at 319-444-2200, and we will see that the BPCDC gets your message.
All other groups in Belle Plaine probably need more members or more volunteers. Don’t be afraid to ask or join if you want to have a say in the development of Belle Plaine celebrations. RAGBRAI is coming through BP as a pass thru town. In the next couple of weeks, we will be naming co-chairs who will organize & plan that event. They will need volunteers and people willing to help. When the call goes out for volunteers, please consider joining in on all the fun.
Okay, there is a lot to discuss, but there is never enough time or space to complete it.
Let me go back to December!
“You probably hear a rumor that the City of Belle Plaine is in court with a lawsuit against WRH. This is the company that built the sewer plant. That is not a rumor. The City is being sued by WRH for not making the final payment on the sewer plant. The reason behind the whole lawsuit is WRH would not give the City the change order that was needed to draw the final loan money from the state to make the payment. That refusal led to a disagreement between the City & WRH over the project being completed on time and several other issues. Even though the City has made several offers to settle this out of court, the WRH company’s lawyers or WRH owners would never agree to our offers. Eventually, the city council decided it was better to go to court and let a judge determine who owed what to each other and who was right and wrong.”
The results of that lawsuit are in & we lost! The courts totally agreed with everything WRH, INC said about the disagreement and that the City was wrong to hold out until the change order was given to us so we could get our SRF money. You think you are unhappy about the results so is the council; as for the Mayor, I received the court packet while I was flat on my back at the University of Iowa hospitals.
It sure made for some fun reading!
So, the bottom line is the City of Belle Plaine is forced to pay WRH, INC $434,491.60, including the last payment on the sewer plant and their attorney fees of $97,931.50. So, to pay this off, we will borrow $271,689 from the state revolving fund, where we borrowed most of our money for this project. We will do a $200,000 inter-fund loan from our economic development account at ½% interest. If we had seen this coming, I’m sure the council would have voted to pay them and figured out another way to get the change order released. When this happened, we were upset with the project not finishing on time. We were still bitter about the Labor Day flooding at the sewer plant created by WRH & their subcontractors, who disconnected all our warning mechanisms & shut off the valves to use the overflow basin. Yet our insurance company had to pay for the damages one of the contractors created again.
It is spring, and one of the first things that will come up is golf carts, UTV’s & ATVs on the streets. Some of this has changed in recent years, so if you don’t see an answer to your question, please call city hall for an update.
- “Golf Cart” means a three or four-wheeled recreational vehicle generally used for transportation of person(s) in the sport of golf that is either electric-powered or gas-powered with a ground speed limited to 25 mph.
- “Utility Trail Vehicle,” as defined by Iowa Code Section 321I.1, means a motorized vehicle with no less than four and not more than eight non-highway tires or rubberized tracks that have a seat that is of bucket or bench design, not intended to be straddled by the operator and a steering wheel or control levers for control.
- All-terrain vehicle (ATV) means a motorized vehicle with not less than three tires and not more than six non-highway tires that is limited in engine displacement to less than one-thousand cubic centimeters and in total dry weight to less than thousand to less than one thousand two hundred pounds and that has a seat or saddle designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control.
74.03 OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS/UTV’s/ATVs PERMITTED. Golf carts, UTVs, ATV’s may be operated upon the streets of the City by a person possessing a valid Iowa driver’s license. Operators must comply with all applicable provisions of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Belle Plaine and the Code of Iowa related to motor vehicle traffic and parking regulations.
74.04 PROHIBITED STREETS. Golf carts, UTVs & ATVs shall not be operated on the following streets, except to cross said street:
- State Highway 21 through the Belle Plaine City limits.
- 13th Street east of 7th Avenue.
74.05 UNLAWFUL OPERATION.
- No golf cart, UTV, or ATV shall be operated or parked upon City sidewalks or trails.
- No golf cart, UTV or ATV shall be operated while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics, or habit-forming drugs.
- No person shall operate a golf cart, ATV, or UTV in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner endangering the person or property of another or causing injury or damage to same.
- No golf cart, UTV or ATV shall carry more passengers than for which the vehicle was designed and for which there are seats available. A bench seat shall hold no more than three persons.
- No golf cart, UTV or ATV shall be operated within the City parks on any grass area. They are permitted in the parking lots. Only upon special permission of the City Council of the City of Belle Plaine may golf carts, ATV’s or UTVs be operated on any grass area within the City parks.
74.06 EQUIPMENT. Golf carts, ATVs, or UTVs operated upon City streets shall be equipped with a minimum of the following safety features:
- A slow-moving vehicle signs.
- A bicycle safety flag, the top of which shall be a minimum of five feet above ground level.
- Adequate brakes.
- If the golf cart, ATV or UTV comes with a manufacturer-equipped seat belt, the seat belt must be worn during operation.
74.07 HOURS OF OPERATION. Golf carts, ATV’s & UTVs may be operated on City streets and in alleys only between sunrise and sunset.
74.08 SPEED. No golf cart, ATV, or UTV shall be operated on any City street at a speed in excess of 25 miles per hour. Posted speed limits must be followed in accordance with the Code of Iowa and the City of Belle Plaine Code of Ordinances.
74.09 PARKING PROHIBITED. Golf carts, ATVs, or UTVs shall not be parked overnight on City streets or in alleys at any time.
74.10 PERMITS. No person shall operate a golf cart, an ATV, or UTV on any public street or alley for any purpose unless the operator possesses a City of Belle Plaine permit to operate a golf cart ATV, or UTV on City streets, issued by the Police Chief.
- Golf carts, ATV’s or UTV owners may apply for a permit on forms provided by the Police Chief.
- The Police Chief shall not issue a permit until the owner/operator has provided the following:
A. Evidence that the operator is at least 16 years of age for golf carts and 18 years of age for UTV’S and ATV’S and possesses a valid Iowa driver’s license.
B. Proof that owner and operator have liability insurance covering the operation of golf carts, ATV’s & UTV’s on City streets.
- All permits shall be issued for a specific golf cart, ATV, and UTV. Permit holders will be issued a number and a sticker to affix to the left-side rear fender or similar component.
- The fee for golf carts shall be $7.50. There is no fee for ATV’s or UTV’s that carry valid DNR permit. Permits will be granted for one year, valid from January 1 through December 31. Permits may be purchased anytime during the year but will be valid only through December 31.
- The permit may be suspended or revoked upon finding Evidence that the permit holder has violated the conditions of the permit or has abused the privilege of being a permit holder. There shall be no refund of the permit fee. Should a permit be suspended or revoked, the owner or operator must receive a majority vote of the City Council to allow for reinstatement of an existing permit or issuance of a new permit.
74.11 PENALTY. In addition to the suspension or revocation of the permit, a person who violates this chapter is guilty of a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under Iowa Code 321.247 as defined by the schedule of violations under Section 805.8A, Subsection 3, paragraph “b” or as a municipal infraction under Iowa Code Section 364.22 with a minimum schedule of City fines:
- First Offense – $75.00
- Second Offense and Subsequent – $100.00
The next question is about riding lawnmowers. By state code lawn mowers are not street legal in Iowa because they do not meet all the safety standards of a motor vehicle. In Belle Plaine, we usually recommend that if you are driving from one property to another property to mow, you will be all right. Still, you must stay off the state highways. But if you plan to use your lawn mower as a form of transportation, especially if you have no driver’s license, you will be ticketed. Plus, you have no insurance to cover a driving incident. Remember, officers have discretionary power, so each member of our police department may choose to handle each traffic incident differently. The same is true for the sheriff’s department and highway patrol.
Another major topic is burning hours. From September 1 thru May 31, they are 7 days per week between 4 to 9 pm. The summer months of June, July, & August are Wednesday, Saturday, & Sunday from 4 to 9 pm. Please be considerate of your neighbors, esp. if they have health concerns or wash hanging on the line. Remember, we have a mulch pile for all vegetation. Again, the mulch pile is for vegetation
not for wood, metal, junk, & other garbage.
Let’s get out and support the spring sports & other events that our kids work so hard at!
As Always, “Go Plainsmen.” Remember, it is up to all of us to make Belle Plaine is the best hometown in Iowa!