The City Council meeting on June 15 began by opening the floor to citizens to discuss concerns not on the agenda. Two citizens each spoke about their dissatisfaction regarding the controlled burn at the transfer station which took place on June 11. The concern was that the burn had been too large and the residual smoke was still affecting residences and businesses near the transfer station. City Administrator Gregg Mandsager explained that citizens were notified ahead of time and burning the debris from the March tornado was much more cost effective than hiring a company to remove the debris and move it to a proper disposal site.
The next item discussed was the decision to remove parking on the north and south side of Sunset Drive from the intersection of Sunrise Circle to a point 195 feet west. The Traffic Committee recommended parking be removed and the request was passed 5-1, with Councilman Fitzgerald voting “nay” due to the concern that removing parking could cause an increase in vehicle speeds in that area. Public Works believes they will be able to remove the parking as early as Monday, June 19.
The next discussion of the city council was regarding a request to approve a roundabout as the preferred alternative for the Second Street and Mulberry Avenue intersection. The city’s engineering firm, Bolton and Menk, discussed the benefits of a roundabout in that area. They suggested that roundabouts are more efficient at handling peak traffic time in the morning and evening as well as during special events held in the downtown and riverfront area. Roundabouts are statistically safer for pedestrians because they only have to look one way for oncoming traffic, and there are traffic islands between lanes resulting in pedestrians crossing shorter distances at a time. The crosswalk is further away from the intersection and there isn’t the concern of vehicles turning into crosswalks.
This roundabout would be approximately $150,000 cheaper than a traditional intersection. A roundabout would also benefit HNI and the semi trucks entering and exiting the facility. City Council approved a roundabout as the preferred alternative with a vote of 5-1. This decision is only to predetermine a roundabout as the preferred alternative when the time comes to make that decision; this does not mean a roundabout has been approved.
Finally, the city council members discussed what steps to take in regard to the mayoral vacancy. They debated the options of appointing a new mayor or holding a special election. The council felt a special election would be less cost effective and decided to begin accepting applications for candidates to be appointed.
However, on Friday morning, Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Mark J. Smith issued a ruling that Diana Broderson will resume her duties as Mayor of the City of Muscatine effective immediately. In a statement released by the city, Gregg Mandsager, city administrator, said, “We respectfully disagree with the judge’s ruling and interpretation of the applicable law. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case on July 17.”
The next hearing on the mayor’s case is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 17, 2017.