City picks up $75K tab for Casey’s rebuild

Storm water work sparked deal

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Pictured is the corner of Casey’s convenience store, 111 N. Third Ave., and portions of the avenue 10 months after the July 19 tornado.

Ahead of the Third Avenue Casey’s grand opening the city made a deal to pay for the majority of storm water detention usually required of the property owner.

On Friday, Casey’s is set to have a grand reopening of its store which was destroyed in the 2018 tornado and will also make a donation toward renovating the city-owned Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The storm water detention deal, where the city will cover 75 percent of the cost which is normally required to be paid in full by businesses, was made with the company in April.

At the April 22 meeting, councilors voted 7-0 in favor of Casey’s request to modify a city ordinance requiring businesses to install storm water detention on site when necessary. Public Works Director Justin Nickel told council that Casey’s construction of parking lots triggered the need for detention per the storm water ordinance. As part of the new store construction, Casey’s purchased a property at 303 1/2 Bromley St. and 305 Bromley St. for the parking lot.

“In conversations with Casey’s, they were seeking an alternative to having to install underground detention under their parking lot … it would have been fairly costly,” Nickel said. “That led us to a discussion about improvements to storm water system in the vicinity of the store.”

Nickel said it was agreed Casey’s could pay a fee to assist in extending storm sewer from Third Avenue to the site discharge location to avoid issues which were identified. Casey’s agreed to pay 25 percent of the project costs — about $26,000 — while the city will pay roughly $75,000. A Construction Cost Sharing Agreement signed by Mayor Joel Greer and Michael Richardson, president of Casey’s Marketing Co., outlines the deal.

T-R FILE PHOTO Pictured is the corner of Casey’s convenience store, 111 N. Third Ave., and portions of the avenue immediately following the July 19 tornado.

A deal with a business exactly like this has not been made before, Nickel said. However, general discussions about a similar deal with JBS have taken place.

Nickel also said the extension of storm sewer to the Casey’s site will happen as part of the North Third Avenue Highway 14 improvements, likely in 2021. Casey’s will not pay their share until that time, City Administrator Jessica Kinser said.

“With a street improvement project on the horizon, staff made the decision to forgo detention and partner with Casey’s for infrastructure improvements,” Nickel said.

Resident Gary Thompson spoke against the deal at the May 13 city council meeting. He said with Casey’s CEO being paid more than $2 million per year and a stock price upwards of $130 per share, the company could have afforded to pay the total price.

Richardson said he was not personally familiar with the Casey’s concern about storm water detention cell cost, but would look into the matter. He did not return a call by time of press.

“Casey’s did not ask for a variance,” Thompson said. “When do rules apply, and when don’t they? I don’t understand. How did Casey’s get by on this and other small business do not?”

On Thursday Thompson said he and other residents are becoming increasingly frustrated with what he alleged was “lack of respect” from Greer and the council.

“It takes a lot of courage for someone to go about to the lectern and talk to the council about issues they disagree with the council or city staff on,” Thompson said. “They know they will be on television and their remarks will be evaluated. Also, in many cases councilors do not make eye contact with the person at the lectern. That is frustrating.”

Kinser said no further action from the council is planned. The amount of the Casey’s donation toward the coliseum renovations was not known before time of press.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com