The City Council of Webster City voted 3-2 Monday to build a splash pad in East Twin Park.
Every seat in council chambers was taken with an estimated 75% of those attending students from Webster City High School fulfilling requirements for government classes, and the remainder largely adults against the splash pad project.
Individual council members each expressed their feelings on the project before the final vote was taken.
Logan Welch, who had previously supported the project, voted it against it, saying, “we don’t have community support for this project at this time. If we do build it, I’m afraid it will be a topic of contention for many years into the future.” He received a round of applause from the public.
Councilman Matt McKinney also voted against proceeding with the project.
“I’ve listened to the comments, conversations and emails, and what I hear people saying is don’t build it now; don’t waste the water. I’m grateful for the support shown by private donors; perhaps we could go back to them and ask if that money could be used to improve today’s outdoor pool.”
The pool is approaching a time when it will have to be substantially rebuilt, or replaced.
Councilwoman Megan McFarland said, “I represent people in favor of the splash pad, but most won’t come forward and say so publicly. Some people say the timing for this project isn’t right, but we’ll be paying for the big projects (wastewater treatment plant, new electrical substation and water treatment plant) for 30 years. Are we supposed to wait that long before we make improvements in recreation?”
Councilwoman Abbie Hansen largely echoed McFarland’s views, adding, “I also represent many in favor of this project, but they won’t come forward to defend it. The splash pad will be well-used by our schools and daycares.”
Mayor John Hawkins, who said he’s been “on the fence” regarding the splash pad project, said, “If we don’t proceed with this, we’re going to have to give back a lot of money to generous donors who answered our call for help. If we do that, next time they might well ask ‘why should I give to that?’
“My feeling is if we don’t do this project now, we probably never will.” Hawkins cast his vote in favor of the measure.
The council then turned its attention to the three construction alternatives, which are additional features that complement the splash pad and help tie it into the rest of East Twin Park. These include additional off-street parking on Union Street at a cost of $24,571.88; a new concrete sidewalk connecting the new shelter to the playground and basketball court for $3,299.73; and a new 20-foot by 24-foot open shelter, coming at a cost of $34,750.
Peterson Construction of Webster City will build the complex, submitting a total bid of $279,617.67, including all three alternatives.
A total of $183,750 has been raised from private donations.
Splash pads are small, outdoor, self-contained water recreation areas with various features for water play, including fountains, slides and sprays. There is little, or no, standing water, so lifeguards are not required for public safety. Splash pads have been built in many Iowa communities in recent years, including Ames, Clear Lake and Fort Dodge. They are especially popular with parents of small children who are too young to use a swimming pool.
Representatives of Williams & Company, public accountants from Le Mars, made a presentation of its audit of city financial accounts for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. Essentially a “snapshot” of the city’s finances at that date, the report runs to more than 100 pages. An analysis of the report will appear in Wednesday’s Daily Freeman Journal.
The council also took the following actions at Monday’s meeting:
— Passed a third reading of an ordinance, amending the code of ordinances of the City of Webster City, enforcing use of authorized truck routes, and another making minor changes to parking regulations in certain zones; both in Webster City. These were first proposed by the Traffic Committee late last fall.
The designated truck routes must be observed by all vehicles over five tons, whether loaded or empty, and which are transiting the city, and do not pertain to trucks enroute to a terminal in the city, or those making stops for loading or unloading or loading within Webster City.
The ordinance pertaining to parking applies to all vehicles and makes the regulations part of the city code, thereby permitting any parking infractions to be enforced and upheld in court. There have been no comments or objections to either ordinance since they were proposed, so with Monday’s reading, they will become part of the Municipal Code.
— Postponed a resolution setting a public hearing pertaining to Chapter 10, Article II, Division 1, Section 10-19, entitled International Property Maintenance Code. The resolution will be routed through the city’s planning department to highlight exactly how the new code will differ from that presently in place at the request of Councilman McKinney.
The International Property Maintenance Code sets forth minimum health and safety standards for both new and existing buildings and structures. It is in widespread use in cities across the United States.
— Adopted a resolution authorizing Street Department Supervisor Brandon Bahrenfuss to seek bids for and make a number of concrete panel replacements in streets throughout Webster City. The work will be awarded to the lowest qualified bidder with a total bid under $100,000.
As a means of speeding up repairs to the city’s streets, the council first authorized additional funds for repair of concrete streets in 2022. It authorized further such work in 2023, so this would be the third straight year for the program.
Projects recommended for concrete panel replacement in 2024 include the following: 522 Second Street, 1508 College Street, 2300 Superior Street, 1605 Lynx Avenue, 2108 Rodlyn Road, and 300 Second Street.
All projects involve replacing relatively small panels of concrete, typically those where extensive cracking, heaving or potholes are present. Two of the projects, those on Second Street, also include making improvements to the concrete roadway around manholes.
Readers should be aware the concrete panel program does not replace, and will be completed in addition to, the HMA (hot mixed asphalt) street repair program approved recently by city council.
View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.
Last modified: February 6, 2024