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A new angle solves Tiffin impasse

TIFFIN— It seems the end may finally be in sight for planning and designs for Ireland Avenue.
A plethora of agenda items awaited the Tiffin City Council, now down to three members with the resignations of Chris Ball and Travis Weipert, as they met in regular session on Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the Springmier Library. Councilors Peggy Upton, Jim Bartels and Mike Ryan were in attendance with Mayor Steve Berner and city manager/clerk Michon Jackson.
The council received an update on the Ireland Avenue extension project. One key hang-up has been an ongoing dispute between John Schneider, owner of John’s Ice Cream, and Tom Sheets, owner of The Depot. Schneider has been upset over fuel delivery semi tractor-trailer rigs blocking access to his business and made an impassioned plea to the council earlier this summer.
It has since been discovered that if the trucks park at an angle, access to John’s is maintained, and the drivers are happier as they no longer have to attempt to back out onto the highway.
“This appears to be the way to go, this is the best answer we can come up with,” Greenleaf said. This compromise leaves only a final negotiation with Schneider for land necessary for the road projects. Greenleaf recommended moving toward partial condemnation if an agreement cannot be reached for the needed easements.
“I think I said there’s 47 different ways to park a truck,” said Ryan, reflecting on the earlier discussion and his suggestion to park the truck differently. Greenleaf added they’ve both been in contact with the city’s appraiser to finish up his tasks.
“We’ll see some action once we have the appraisals,” Berner said.
Heath Picken with the HR Green Company also gave the council an overview of proposed additional water main improvements and recommended amending the city’s professional services agreement with HR Green. The amendment divides the tower and water main projects into two separate divisions. Division 1 is the 500,000 gallon elevated water storage tank and demolition of the existing tank for a total estimated cost (of $1,551,850. Division 2 projects are: a 16-inch water main to the tower site and an additional 12-inch main from the water treatment plant to Ireland Avenue, at an estimated total cost of $688,000. Adding in the pressure reduction valves discussed previously along with a 20 percent contingency fund and 20 percent engineering, legal and administrative costs; the total estimate sits at $2,360,000, which is below previous estimates.
The rationale for dividing the project into these divisions is based on the continued delays with the Ireland Avenue project, according to Picken. In order to provide adequate water service pressure to the Industrial Park planned water main improvements associated with Ireland Avenue need to be completed. With the delay, HR Green is recommending the additional main to provide the necessary pressure and fire flow for the industrial park. The additional main will also replace a “high priority improvement” identified in the company’s original study of the city’s water system. Specifically, a 12-inch line along NW Ireland Avenue from Village Drive to Railroad Street would not be needed. Since both proposed lines are roughly the same scale and cost, there is no significant change to the project. Bartels, Ryan and Upton voted 3-0 to approve the amended agreement.
In other business, Berner formally thanked departing Tiffin City Attorney Steve Greenleaf for his years of service and presented Greenleaf with a small gift. Greenleaf took on the duty through Iowa City law firm Sladek and Lynch, since renamed Lynch, Greenleaf and Michael, LLP. The attorney is moving to India where his wife Connie has taken a new job. Attorney Bob Michael will be taking Greenleaf’s place as city attorney for Tiffin as well as for Lone Tree, Oxford and Swisher.
One item left over from the Aug. 8 council meeting was awarding the contract for extending a water main out to the Industrial Park. Bids were opened on Aug. 8, but action was delayed until it was confirmed by City Engineer Doug Fredrick that the contractor was in fact able to do the job. Ricklefs Excavating of Anamosa submitted the lowest bid at $428,742.50. Work on the project should begin in September with completion before the end of the year.
The council is slated to meet again on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Springmier Library.