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Government Notes: Iowa City Council approves mixed-use development on northeast side
Also, bid accepted for new Clear Creek Amana school
A mixed-use development with Scooter’s Coffee, commercial space and residential units is coming to the northeast side of Iowa City after final approval from the Iowa City Council.
The council last week unanimously approved the third and final consideration for rezoning 3.87 acres of vacant land on the corner of North Dodge Street and Scott Boulevard, across from Iowa City Fire Station 4.
Mark Holtkamp of Solon is working with Axiom Consultants on the project. The land is owned by GreenState Credit Union.
The proposed Scooter’s Coffee would be on the corner of North Dodge Street and Scott Boulevard.
The mixed-use building will be separate from the coffee shop and is expected to have ground floor retail with upper-story residential consisting of eight one-bedroom units. A restaurant is also proposed for this building.
Nine townhomes, with separate access, are planned at the other end of the site.
Two Iowa City businesses receive city energy efficiency grants
Two Iowa City businesses received energy efficiency grants under the city’s grant program to reduce carbon emissions by commercial property owners.
The Iowa City Council approved the two grants last week. The program is for businesses in the downtown, Riverfront Crossings and Northside Marketplace areas.
Bluebird Diner will renovate its HVAC system, replace its storefront windows and replace all lighting with LED. The project will cost just over $44,000, and the business sought just over $22,000 from the city for a 50 percent matching grant.
“The Bluebird Diner owners desire to improve the energy efficiency of the entire building and prolong the life of this now historic, 60-year-old Gilpin Paint building,” Wendy Ford, economic development coordinator, wrote in a council memo.
Neumann Monson Architects applied for a grant to update its office to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint. The architectural firm will replace mechanical and electrical systems and lighting in its downtown offices in Plaza Towers.
The project cost is more than $1.3 million, with eligible costs being $309,000 and a maximum match of $100,000, Ford said. This project will be funded by Tax Increment Finance (TIF) proceeds in the area.
“With the combined mechanical and electrical replacements, their studio will use 51 percent less energy per square foot than the average office in the United States,” Ford said.
The project is to be completed by the end of the year.
Bid accepted to build new Clear Creek Amana school
The Clear Creek Amana school board accepted a bid earlier this month to build a new elementary school in Coralville.
The lowest bidder was Knutson Construction of Iowa City with a bid of $32.7 million.
The new school — planned to be built by 2024 — will be designed to accommodate enrollment growth coming from the eastern side of the school district and relieve crowding at other elementary buildings.
Last year, the school district bought 30 acres of land for the school from the city of Coralville for $1. The land is west of Coral Ridge Avenue and east of the Interstate 380-Highway 6 intersection in Coralville.
School district voters in March 2022 approved a $65 million bond issue to build the school, with 75 percent of voters voting yes.
Ellis Golf Course to open today
The Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Department plans to open Ellis Golf Course, 1401 Zika Ave. NW, today.
The clubhouse will open at 7:30 a.m., with tee times beginning at 8 a.m., and will close at dusk through March. The driving range also will be open, and carts will be available as conditions allow.
There will be new alcoholic drinks and concession items offered this year, and tournaments and events will be hosted at the event center.
To reserve tee times, visit playcedarrapidsgolf.com. Season passes may be purchased using that web address or at the course after it is open.
Supervisor wants more detail in meeting minutes
Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers led the charge last week for the East Central Mental Health Region’s regional governing board to draft more detailed meeting minutes.
Rogers, the county’s representative on the nine-county regional board that manages mental health funding, said he felt details were lacking in the minutes documenting the board’s Feb. 23 meeting.
In an email sent Wednesday to fellow board members and regional staff, Rogers wrote to the region’s administrative assistant, Chelle Klootwyk: “I am concerned that specific topics were not covered in any detail, and a resident looking at these minutes would not have any context of the ‘robust conversation on the funding of regional access centers …’ that took place between ECR board members, ECR staff and Regional CEO.”
It was a point he reiterated at Thursday’s meeting of the regional board.
He said the Feb. 23 minutes did not include items such as Regional CEO Mae Hingtgen’s idea of investing in tablets to give people with mental health issues, or details about county supervisors pushing back about possible underfunding of the mental health access centers in Linn and Johnson counties.
Dubuque County Supervisor Ann McDonough said it was an “extraordinary email from a board member that we do not normally see,” and she felt his summary was accurate.
Hingtgen said video recordings of meetings are available upon request, but Rogers said that illustrated his point about the meeting minutes — that members of the public shouldn’t have to request records to be able to catch up on what happened at a meeting.
Board Chair Dewey Hildebrandt said if everyone starts to submit their recollections of the meeting, that creates a “slippery slope.”
Government entities typically follow Robert’s Rules of Order to document meetings, but they’re only required to record what is done, not what is said, so there are some discrepancies among governmental entities in how detailed meeting minutes are.
Iowa City, for instance, routinely attaches staff and citizen correspondence related to items in its meeting packets. But some entities, such as the regional mental health board, don’t publish packets with the agendas, which public bodies must post before a public meeting.
Klootwyk, who prepares the board minutes, said she aims to document what happens and what decisions are made, given that discussion may be all over the place at times. But she said she was open to including more details.
The board ultimately favored including Rogers’ email along with the Feb. 23 minutes.
Government Notes is published Mondays and contains updates from area government bodies. Gazette reporters Marissa Payne, Izabela Zaluska and Grace King contribute.