Looking ahead

City officials set goals, discuss strengths and challenges at work session

From housing and public safety to future goals and infrastructure, City of Marshalltown officials discussed a wide variety of topics during an annual goal-setting work session at the Marshalltown Public Library Wednesday.

“It’s always a joy for me to come over to Marshalltown, because I can see the progress that’s being made over the course of the time I’ve been coming here,” said consultant Bruce Bernard, who has been facilitating goal-setting work sessions in the city for several years.

Every Marshalltown City Council member, including mayor-elect Joel Greer, Mayor Lowrance, City Administrator Jessica Kinser and several department heads were among the attendees Wednesday.

When asked by Bernard about visions for Marshalltown’s future, the group responded with goals like preparing for the 2020 United States Census, making progress on the Veterans Memorial Coliseum project, a library expansion project and changes to the North 3rd Avenue area, among other topics.

“We’re ‘visioning’ that we’ll have a completely resurfaced (Iowa) Highway 14 by 2020,” Kinser said, adding a study aimed at improving the North 3rd Avenue area is also being planned.

Lowrance said he wanted to see improvements made to Fisher Community Center in the next few years as well, calling the building “too valuable a resource to stay in the condition it’s in.”

Housing was one of several topics discussed in-depth at the meeting.

“I think the [2014] housing study indicated that we needed the $200,000 — plus-or-minus $25,000 — range,” Greer said. “A lot of the engineers that are driving in everyday … are driving in because they couldn’t find a house like that.”

An upcoming housing study was also discussed as something for city leaders to consider in the coming years.

Housing for young adults and rental housing were also discussed. The community group Vision Marshalltown came up during the meeting several times.

“It’s a separate organization of community leaders,” said Marshalltown Housing and Community Development Director Michelle Spohnheimer of Vision Marshalltown. She is a part of the group’s housing subcommittee.

Spohnheimer added that Vision Marshalltown also focuses on community pride and education, and helps communicate good news about the community.

The public safety topics of speed cameras and fireworks were also discussed.

“If we’re going to have some impact on speeding in Marshalltown, we need to have technology involved in some way,” Lowrance said on the topic of speed cameras.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said he would favor a mobile camera system for Marshalltown.

“A lot of communities have mobile programs now, that’s what we need here,” he said. “I’m not advocating for speed cameras, necessarily, on light poles and stuff like that; I think if we had a mobile program where we could put a mobile car at a trouble hotspot, that would really help us.”

Tupper said it’s possible that such a system could create revenue, and said those funds could be put to popular use.

“I know we’re sometimes afraid to talk about revenue,” he said. “It doesn’t have to come back to the police department, maybe there’s a community project that you want to dedicate the revenue toward that would be popular in the community.”

The police chief also said he would like to see an ordinance allowing for property owners to be cited if fireworks, which are banned from use within Marshalltown, are set off in city limits.

Tupper said it is difficult for police to cite those who set off fireworks illegally in town, adding officers often have trouble identifying specific individuals responsible for setting off fireworks.

Infrastructure was also a topic of interest at the meeting. Specifically, filling in gaps in the city’s sidewalk system, connecting trails and potential work on the hangar and runway at Marshalltown Municipal Airport were discussed.

A financial update, discussion on code and nuisance enforcement and several economic development topics were also discussed at the meeting.

The next Marshalltown City Council meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Carnegie building, 10 W. State St.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com