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No council action on splash pad

January 16, 2024

Monday night’s City Council of Webster City meeting barely lasted 20 minutes due to a short, and very routine agenda.

A council resolution regarding plans, specifications and bids to construct the East Twin Park splash pad was held for discussion at the council’s next meeting, which will be February 4 at 6 p.m. in city hall.

Mayor Pro Tem Logan Welch, who chaired the meeting, explained the splash pad resolution was rescheduled so more council members could be present for the discussion and vote. Mayor John Hawkins and Councilman Matt McKinley were both absent from Monday’s meeting.

Plans call for the splash pad to be located along Bank Street in the park’s north side, the only green space remaining in East Twin. The city would buy fixtures and equipment for the splash pad from the manufacturer or a distributor, and convey them to the contractor for installation.

Three possible additions to the base project, each coming at an extra cost, will also be discussed when the council takes up the matter in two weeks. These include a 20-foot by 24-foot shelter, estimated to cost $34,750; parking for splash pad users, and a sidewalk connecting it to the pad itself, estimated to cost $24,570; and sidewalks connecting the shelter with the basketball courts and playground, effectively linking up all facilities in East Twin Park, at an estimated cost of $3,300.

Opposition to the splash pad has become increasingly vocal the last two months, with residents questioning the wisdom of proceeding with what some perceive to be a “nice-to-have” amenity, when the city is facing tens of millions of dollars in “must-have” projects, including a new wastewater treatment plant, new electrical substation, and new water treatment plant, all to be built in the space of a few years’ time.

A petition with 79 signatures protesting the splash pad was received by the city on January 4, 2024. The petition claimed the project was “not fiscally responsible,” and that local children “had many leisure time facilities and activities already, and were not being neglected.”

It went on to state “operating expenses, repairs, staffing at the splash pad will take away from the park’s ‘already insufficient budget,’ and that it will be what petitioners termed ‘an attractive nuisance,’ for which the city would be responsible for injuries, illness and death that might result from its use. Petitioners felt it “morally irresponsible to waste an estimated 3 to 5 million gallons of water at the splash pad annually.”

Finally, the petition warned council it “should respect the fact tax money comes from people who choose to live in their town.”

On the other hand, the splash pad has been the beneficiary of both donations and grants, including $40,000 from the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, $50,000 from Seneca Foundry, $25,000 from Webster City Custom Meats, $5,000 each from People’s Credit Union and K. C. Nielsen Ltd, $3,750 from individuals, and $55,000 in the form of an Iowa Department of Economic Development Community Attractions & Tourism grant.

Totaling $183,750, these funds would pay for much of the base project by themselves.

In other actions Monday council approved:

. A resolution appointing John Harrenstein and Brandon Bahrenfuss as representative, and alternative representative, respectively, to the board of the Hamilton County solid waste commission;

. A resolution appointing John Harrenstein as city representative to the North Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association for 2024;

. Appointment of Derrick Drube as alternative representative to the MIDAS transportation advisory committee for 2024;

. A second reading of an ordinance requiring trucks transiting Webster City to use only approved, designated truck routes;

. Updating sections 46-206 and 46-209 of the City Code of Webster City, pertaining to no parking and five-minute parking zones around the city;

. A resolution authorizing street supervisor Brandon Bahrenfuss to proceed with purchase of a wheel loader from Ziegler Caterpillar of Fort Dodge for an amount not to exceed $231,423. The amount is within the city’s 2023-2024 approved capital equipment budget of $290,000 for this equipment. The new machine will be in use throughout the year; plowing, blowing and loading snow during snow removal, maintenance of the city’s grass and tree site, rotating compost piles, also at the grass and tree site, stacking concrete and asphalt for recycling, and for other uses as well. A 2007 wheel loader will be traded in as part of the transaction to acquire the new unit.

Mayor Pro Tem Welch congratulated and thanked city staff for their efficient work in removing snow following the recent blizzard.


View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.

Last modified: January 16, 2024

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