An update on the community facade program for the downtown area of Emmetsburg was presented to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its Dec. 11 meeting. Emmetsburg Community Development Director Steve Heldt briefed the board members on the latest developments with the program.
"We've received a total of $719,000 for the program, $500,000 of which is federal funding," Heldt explained. "To coordinate the project, we've hired Envision from Des Moines as our architects. They have two Emmetsburg natives working there who are working on this project, Mark Nevenhoven and Tonia (Sorenson) Householder."
The facade program will help recreate the historic facades of buildings in the downtown business district. With several of the structures dating back to the early 1900's, the historical significance of the downtown lent itself to the guidelines of the federal program.
Heldt noted that Envision was receiving $67,200 for their technical work and the Northwest Iowa Council of Governments was handling the administration of the project at a cost of $20,000.
"As the participating buildings are evaluated, we have to look at possible asbestos, like in the window sealants and the like, and if any is found, it must be removed," Heldt pointed out. "We estimate that can range from $15,000 to $30,000."
With the expenditures for administration, architecture and asbestos abatement, the remaining $600,000 of the program requires that participating building owners or business owners have to contribute 25 percent of their individual project costs.
"One contractor will be hired to do the work on all 25 buildings that have signed up to participate in the project," Heldt added. "And, because this is a federally funded project, the contractor will have to follow rules for wages and benefits through the Davis-Bacon act."
Heldt noted that when the architectural team had been in town to make their initial assessments, no representative of the county had been able to meet with them regarding the county's buildings,
"When they came, we were very busy preparing for the election and no one had the time to visit with them," Auditor Carmen Moser admitted. "There was just so much going on that day."
Heldt noted that the general consensus of participants in the program was that the program would be short on funds in the end, and with that thought in mind, the supervisors agreed that the county would step out of the program, and perhaps do some work on their own to the county-owned buildings instead.
"It's one of those things where as we got into it, we ended up getting more requests for participation than money to fund the requests," Heldt said. "That's a good thing, and it's a hard thing, too, to have to tell someone they won't be able to participate in the program."
In other business, the board heard a request from landowners in Section 18 of Great Oak Township in regards to annexing lands into a drainage district. Randy and James Schmidt appeared to explain their request to annex approximately six acres of farmland from Drainage District 63 into DD175. The Schmidt's have erected several large turkey barns on a 17-acre tract that for the most part does drain to DD 63, but the smaller sub-parcel actually would drain better going to DD175.
"We have cut a small open ditch along the fence line on the north property line, four feet from the fence line," explained Randy Schmidt. "We don't want to intentionally do anything wrong and we certainly don't want to cause any more strain on the southern drainage district."
According to James Schmidt, a small area of the land where the site is located actually drains to the south, hence the reason for their request.
"It sounds to me like you're running it on your own property," noted Supervisor Ron Graettinger.
"Drainage Ditch 175 has plenty of capacity," noted Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, who sat in on the request. "But, those 6.3 three acres would end up being assessed twice if work is done on either district in the future."
According to figures supplied by Auditor Carmen Moser, adding the acres would increase the amount of lands in the district owned by Schmidts from 10 to 16.3 acres, and the assessment schedule would change from an estimated $92 to $150, with the 6.3 acres also still being assessed in DD63 if need be. "But, DD63 was totally cleared and cleaned out back in 1999, so it should be in good shape for a while," Moser added.
Randy Schmidt told the supervisors that the buildings, which are 640 feet long, will have a capacity of 40,000 birds that will be raised for 2.9 months and sent to Sara Lee foods in Storm Lake when the reach 40 to 45 pounds.
Following a motion by Supervisor Ed Noonan that was seconded by Graettinger, the board introduced and approved a resolution for the voluntary annexation of 6.3 acres into Drainage District 175. The resolution was approved on a unanimous roll call vote of the supervisors.