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Council moves to buy building

March 5, 2024

The City Council of Webster City agreed Monday to buy the properties at 547 Second Street and 612 Willson Avenue, which were declared unsafe in August 2023.

The property’s owners, Marene and Brian Hubbard, of Webster City, did not take action to abate the unsafe conditions after being formally asked by the city to do so. They have agreed to sell both properties to the city for $10,000.

In addition to the purchase price, the city will also pay closing and abstracting costs. Before its next council meeting, city staff will walk through the building to determine if a structural engineering review of the property is warranted.

The Second Street structure was built in 1890, and for many years was the location of Coulter’s Paint Store. The Willson Avenue building, which adjoins 547 Second Street, was last occupied by Walker Insurance Agency.

In November 2023, volunteers from the Webster City Community Theatre asked the council for financial assistance in rebuilding a sidewalk to meet Americans With Disabilities Act — ADA — standards at the corner of Bank Street and Willson Avenue, near the theatre’s two main entrances.

WCCT obtained a bid for this work from Habhab Construction, Webster City, in the amount of $12,278.00.

Citing the dangerous condition of the sidewalk, opening of the play “Clue” on April 5, 2024, and the fact WCCT plays typically draw people from out of town, and thus, contributes to tourism in Webster City, staff recommended a grant of $3,069,50, or 25% of the total, be made immediately.

Money for the project will come from the city’s Hotel-Motel sales tax fund, but as such funds are normally distributed each year in July, this requires a deviation from normal policy. To meet the accelerated schedule requested by WCCT, Interim City Manager John Harrenstein advised council, “I believe you have the authority to grant this funding now.”

The following were approved by the council:

• Proposed the creation of permanent easements from owners of property at 609 Oak Park Drive, and 605 Parkway Drive, both in Webster City to allow completion of the conversion of electrical service from overhead wires to underground cables on the city’s north side.

• A proposal to reimburse the city for cash already spent on purchase of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) electric meters was next on the agenda. The memorandum reads, “while the AMI project was initially projected to be funded with cash, upcoming projects in both the water and electric utility, as well as water (treatment) plant upgrades, necessitate the AMI project be financed with bonds, to fit within the rate structure increases adopted by City Council.” The reimbursed money will be deposited in reserves being accumulated in the water and electric utility funds.

Acquisition of the meters, budgeted to cost $2 million, will now be financed with bonds. This plan was endorsed by Dorsey & Whitney law firm of Minneapolis, a consultant to the city in such matters, and passed by Council.

• The council accepted completion of improvements to the water treatment plant, authorizing final payment to the project contractor, Peterson Construction of Webster City. Several previous change orders extended the work’s completion date due, principally, to delays in receiving electrical components, a common problem in the wake of the covid pandemic. The total cost of the project was revised downward to $690,871.45, and contractor days worked adjusted from 220 to 605.

• Another change order was sought in the next memorandum, this one concerning restoration of the first Hamilton County Courthouse in Wilson Brewer Park. An additional $2,775 is sought to cover the cost of materials, labor and supervision to remove rotted siding, plywood sheathing and framing from the building’s west wall. These costs will be borne by donations to the Wilson Brewer Park Fund, through the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation, not with city funds.

• A further change order, this time to the Lincoln Drive reconstruction project, was passed, allocating $14,900 to stop erosion near a storm sewer outflow. The council memo stated: “water from a storm sewer is eating away at the ravine below the outflow. This change order extends the storm sewer pipe to an outlet at the main drainage channel, clearing and grubbing erosion. By taking this proactive approach and addressing erosion before it gets worse, we can keep repair costs lower. If the situation is not corrected, erosion of soil around the outflow pipe will be washed away, leading to more costly repairs in future.” Note: “grubbing” refers to removal of trees, stumps, shrubs and rubbish. The project is being managed by Doyle Construction, Fort Dodge.

• Set a public hearing to dispose (sell) city-owned property in the Brewer Creek Estates 6th addition for 6:05 p.m. March 18. The two issues at hand are:

Ridge Development LLC, Cedar Rapids, has expressed interest in buying six lots at the city’s full asking price of $24,995 per lot. Terms of sale require a good-faith deposit of $1,000 per lot, and Ridge must develop the property within 18 months or risk having it revert to city ownership. Ridge, who have previously built new, single-family homes in the neighborhood, is proposing to build a duplex on each of the six lots, for a total of 12 housing units.

A second developer, Green Stream Homes of Iowa LLC, Fort Dodge, has expressed its intent to acquire four residential building lots in Brewer Creek Estates 6th addition at the city’s full asking price of $15,995 each, with a $500 good faith deposit due at time of sale, if approved. Green Stream previously built a 30-unit apartment building on Edgewood Drive on Webster City’s east side. Its proposal is for a single-family home on each of the lots, and will also be considered at the March 18, 2024 hearing noted above.

• The council also agreed to discontinue public zoom meeting access currently provided for each City Council meeting. Interested citizens may still watch the meetings from their computer by using the “live meeting” facility on the city’s Facebook page.


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

Last modified: March 5, 2024

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