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City begins drafting strategic plan for 2021

contributed photo The Marshalltown city council, department heads and community members participated in a virtual strategic planning session on Friday. More than 25 people logged on to follow the meeting.

The Marshalltown City Council and department heads met virtually to discuss the community’s strategic plan for 2021 on Friday.

The annual meeting is used to assess the city’s vision, goals and progress to realizing both.

More than 25 people attended the online planning session including the councilors and city leaders.

One of the topics of most interest addressed during the session was the Fifth Avenue Extension near Iowa River Hospice on the strategic plan. The extension would connect to a new East Merle Hibbs development south of the hospice home. Councilor Al Hoop raised the issue, requesting it be completely removed from the city’s strategic plan. Councilors Sue Cahill and Gary Thompson, and Mayor Joel Greer agreed with the proposal.

Thompson said he received a petition requesting the removal of the project which included 1,892 signatures.

“That’s more people than elected most of us to office,” he said. “So I think there’s some weight there.”

An alternative Thompson presented was to create a connecting road south of Kading properties — which is west of Iowa River Hospice — providing a direct route to South Center Street.

Councilor Gabe Isom contended eliminating reference to Fifth Avenue from the strategic plan was unnecessary.

“If people can’t read a sentence, that’s their own issue,” Isom said. “We’re altering an already existing plan. Do you realize how ridiculous we’re being right now?”

The council agreed to explore an alternate connection to East Merle Hibbs Avenue.

The council unanimously agreed to plan a vote on renewing the local option sales tax in November 2021, citing the impact the tax has had on the community. The tax makes a 78 percent property tax relief possible. If the renewal passes, the sales tax would extend from July 2025 to 2035.

The council approved bringing a proposal for modifying rental property regulations in 2021 to take effect in 2022.

“I would like to see property codes be stricter,” Thompson said. “We need to hold landlords accountable and put more teeth behind the plan.”

The council looked at a set of four goals it would like to achieve or make progress on in the next year. They are:

Expand and improve development in the community

Enhance Marshalltown’s public image

Continually improve the city’s organizations and services

Partner with citizens, for profit, nonprofit and other groups to improve quality of life

While assessing these goals and the ways to achieve them, the council was polled on items to prioritize. This process will continue in their own time over the course of the next week. City Administrator Jessica Kinser is compiling the suggestions to be discussed during a city council meeting in December.

Susan Parker of Sparker Solutions in Story City led the session and kept record of plans.

“You guys are one of the cities that has endured a lot over the last couple years and shown such endurance,” she said.

The meeting’s participants were asked to provide examples of how the city’s actions have reinforced its values — inclusiveness, innovation, stewardship, trust and excellence — in the last year.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity,” said Justin Nickel, public works director. “There’s never an unwillingness from any member of the staff or city council to talk about an idea or hopefully execute an idea. The word ‘no’ is sparingly used.”

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611

or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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