From the Desk of the Mayor – March 2014
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
I think we really need a big shout out to our city snow removal crew on what a good job they have done in keeping the city streets in good shape. This has not been as easy winter. The same can be said to all the business & citizens of Belle Plaine who have done a great job on their sidewalks to keep it safe for pedestrians. THANK YOU CITY SNOW CREW FOR YOUR HARD WORK! THANK YOU CITIZENS OF BELLE PLAINE FOR CARING ABOUT THOSE WHO WALK. Every little item makes the quality of life in Belle Plaine just that much better.
Along the same line I think our water department deserves a shout out on what a good job they have done in the past month with all the water main breaks & dealing with well problems. Some of the days they have been in the trenches would have been tough in warm weather, but in the sub-zero weather they were working in was well above the call of duty. Their performance the Week-end of February 22-23 was outstanding! THANK YOU WATER GUYS FOR BEING THERE & CARING ABOUT THE CITIZENS OF BELLE PLAINE.
This past month has been one of the toughest & busiest I have put in as Mayor of Belle Plaine. Besides all budget issues, the water issues, the job openings & other local issues, throw in the Landfill Commission & about five other out of town meetings to call it busy would be an understatement. I’m totally glad February only has 28 days in it.
WATER SITUATION: I hate to use the phrase “it is what it is” but somehow that seems to fit. Nature has not been kind to us in the water department & after two years of drought plus a very tough winter we are stressing our wells to the point that they cannot continue to function. Even though we have been basically on water restrictions for what seems like forever (almost two years) & many, many of you follow the rules above the call of duty we have to do something or we could destroy our current wells. For that reason we elected to turn on well #6, the one commonly thought to be “artesian”. At the time of this writing two of the regular wells has been shut off (dry), others throttled down, but all of them pumping way too many hours per day to be safe. I was told that we were within days of this same situation last year but with some melting & an ice jam on Salt Creek we were somehow able to slip by. This year that is not the case & well #6 is on. It came on line about 10:30 am Sunday February 23rd. This probably will not be a quick one month fix & it will be up to the Council to seek in the future a long term solution. As I have told the Council this is not the time for the old shoulda, woulda, coulda way of thinking or to point fingers at previous councils dating all the way back to 1988. This time the shoes are on their feet & they will be asked to make some tough decisions. (Like I have not already asked them to do that in their first two months.) Ask your council person questions or ask them what we are doing but by all means stay involved in the discussion so you know what your city government is working on.
Let me give you some information concerning our water system: we do not have a water treatment plant in our system. Our water is treated at the well head. I have no idea what a complete water treatment system would cost, other than to say it would not be cheap. I did find the plans for a water treatment plant from 1989 that was developed that had the cost for such a plant at $551,800. I have no idea what that figures out in today’s dollars. I also have no idea what a new well will cost or if we can solve our water problems with a new well. I also discovered that well #6 was not the first well drilled in 1988 but the first one drilled could not produce enough water. It also noted in this report than in 1988 they were down to only two shallow wells that operated. These and other items will be on the council’s agenda in the future & in all cases we will have to turn to experts to help us with our decisions. No matter what decision we make in the future, the bottom line is the financing of it will fall on the check books of the residents of Belle Plaine. It does not do a lot of good to say this should have been taken care of years ago & why wasn’t it done years ago. My logical guess would have been the cost. Previous city councils did not want to burden the tax payers so they chose not to do it. The current council may also follow that same course of action & hope that our shallow wells recover with a normal spring & summer of rain.
It also probably does no good to say if we were not so interested in fixing of Main Street then financially we would have the money to do some of these projects. In many ways that is just not true because the money sources that were used would not be available for these other types of projects. The federal or state government does not hand out block type grants and the local government gets to do what they want with it. All grants today have to be earmarked for a specific item. That is not to say we won’t look for other money sources esp. grants but to blame it all on the Main Street project is probably short sighted.
I KNOW I DON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS BUT I WILL WORK WITH THE COUNCIL TO FIND ANSWERS & WE WILL BE LISTENING TO THE RESDIENTS AS WE MAKE DECISIONS. The bottom line is when the city starts another project in most cases the tax payer in some shape or form has to pay for it. Do I want to raise fees or taxes & the answer is NO!!!!! If we have to pay for something that is vital to the community & someone can show us how to do it without raising something, believe me everyone in city government will be listening & taking notes on how to do it. To just say get a grant is not a solution. We will look for every available source of money that is available at both the federal & state level.
City Clerks Job: The City Council & the Mayor will be working overtime to get a new clerk in place by the end of the month. This is not easy to find the right person for the job. Those who think the job requirements are too detailed just let me say we have modeled what we are looking for after many other eastern Iowa communities & the job of city clerk is not as simple as balancing your check book. The Council is doing its level best to find the most qualified candidate to fill this position at the best possible financial advantage for the city. If you feel qualified then stop by city hall & pick up the job description and follow the method to apply for the job.
In closing let me give you a quote from Brian G. Dyson- President & CEO or Coca-Cola Enterprises during his speech at Georgia Tech 172nd Commencement Address on September 6, 1996. “Juggling! Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends, and spirit- and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls- family, health, friends, and spirit- are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” (Pretty good words to live by!)
I can’t wait for the track & golf season to start because that means warmer weather is here & hopefully spring rains that will start to fill our aquifer again.
AS ALWAYS “GO PLAINSMEN”. REMEMBER IT IS UP TO ALL OF US TO MAKE BELLE PLAINE THE BEST HOMETOWN IN IOWA!