City council hears concerns about geese

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council, meeting in regular session on May 8, approved the plans for the North  Fifth Street improvement project, heard resident concerns about the geese population, and okayed the hiring of a new police officer.

Mayor Fred Schaub led councilmembers Michelle Geuder, Steve Bahls, Jane Parker, Austin Greve and Mandy Ludovissy through the agenda. City Manager Denise Schneider was also present. 

North 5th Street

  The council approved final plans and reviewed bids for the North Fifth Street Improvement Project. After discussion on the merits of asphalt vs. concrete, the council voted to go with the concrete option at a higher cost than asphalt. The project will be financed with grant funds and money in the capital projects fund.

Following council action on Monday, the city manager reported that the Iowa Department of Transportation will not allow the contract to be awarded as voted on, saying it has to be awarded to the low bidder — which was for asphalt. A special council meeting to discuss the matter is set for May 18, at which time the council will decide whether to award the contract or go back out for bids. 

 Geese issues

Three residents — Julia and Todd Lammers and Paul Bazyn — spoke as a group to the council asking for an explanation about management of the local Canada geese population. Julia Lammers gave a history of how the geese were introduced to Guttenberg many decades ago. She asked about the disappearance of nesting boxes and the city’s strategy for goose management. She presented a petition signed by local residents opposing the eradication of the geese.

Mayor Schaub took issue with the petition wording and said the city is not eradicating the geese. “We are just trying to cut down on the number,” he said. He noted the city has received many complaints about geese droppings on the river walk, the athletic field and the swimming pool and said it was a health issue. “We are not trying to eliminate them; just trying to slow them down a little bit,” he said. The city manager said that the city tried harassment measures but they didn’t work. The mayor said the city council then decided to ask the DNR for help last year.

Todd Lammers said that the city’s method of  nest/egg control was inhumane, and Julia Lammers said that the geese seemed frantic and then forlorn when their eggs were missing. Julia Lammers presented a print-out of goose control recommendations used in another city. “The last resort is destroying the nests,” she said. When questioned about what happened to nesting boxes, the mayor said the one in Horseshoe Pond was removed when the pond was dredged and the one in Harter-Herman Pond apparently deteriorated. The mayor and Lammers agreed that recent flooding destroyed nests on river islands and brought the geese inland. Discussion was also held on highway signs; the city manager said signs are regulated by the Department of Transportation. 

The Mayor said that the city would review Lammers’ print-out. “We’ll look at it and try to work something different and see what we come up with,” said Schaub.

Paul Bazyn, a member of Ducks Unlimited, then told the council that proper federal paperwork is required to touch Canada geese eggs, and said he called a federal warden about the matter. Bazyn said he believes there was no paperwork filed. Bazyn said, “We have a goose problem but I just don’t like the way they are doing it.” He suggested that a solution could be to raise the limit on geese and to open the hunting season in September.

New officer

Police Chief Derek Chambers reported on interviews with candidates for the vacancy created by the resignation of an officer. The council approved the Chief’s recommendation to hire Nick Sylvester as a full-time certified officer effective May 29. Chief Chambers also received the go-ahead from the council to apply for a federal grant that would help fund a fifth officer on the department.

Budget amendment

The council approved an amendment to the budget for this fiscal year that ends June 30. The amendment reflects such things as grants received and spent, capital project expenses, and transfers in and out of various city funds.

Train derailment plans

Clayton County Emergency Management Director Sarah Moser spoke to the council about plans in the event of a train derailment. The mayor noted that trains are getting longer, creating the possibility of blocking intersections in case the town needed to be evacuated due to a derailment of toxic cargo. Moser explained that she is versed in handling hazmat situations. She said if the entire town was shut off, the response would depend on the nature of the chemicals, their quantity and other variables. “There are all different components that we have to merge together if something happens,” she said. She noted that currently there are general plans consisting of numerous core plans that are regularly reviewed. The mayor noted that the town is vulnerable to chemicals passing by in three ways — by railroad, barge and highway. Moser said she would make plans to hold a meeting on the topic in the near future with the council council and emergency management personnel. 

Dog park site

Community Vitality Director Brandie Tomkins reported to the council that after conferring with Public Works Director Dan Pierce a site had been chosen for the proposed dog park — a grassy field behind the city wastewater building off DeKalb Street in south Guttenberg. She said those using the area can park in the grass, that any fencing would be removable and that approximately $2600 had been raised thus far. The council approved the site on a 4-1 vote with Bahls voting against it. 

She also asked the council if mobile vendor food truck fees could go into a grant fund to assist new businesses. Grants would be approved by the council on a case-by-case basis. The council okayed her request.

Other business

Discussion was held on flood pumps and the electrical system that operates them. The council voted to upgrade the system and to purchase a generator.

The council tabled until June consideration of non-union employee compensation for the coming fiscal year. 

The proposed employee insurance package for the coming fiscal year was approved; employees will have the choice of two plans from Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

Pool employee wages for the coming season were approved as presented in a resolution with a sliding scale based on years of service as well as incentives. 

Darla  Kelchen of Clayton County Development spoke to the council to make an annual request for funds. She recounted CCD’s marketing campaign accomplishments during the past year and asked for $2,000 for the coming fiscal year. The council okayed the request  on a 4-1 vote with Geuder voting nay. 

Dustin White addressed the council regarding an unpaid utility bill that was recently deducted from his Iowa tax refund. He said he moved from Guttenberg two years ago and never received any notices about an unpaid bill. He said he was willing to pay what he owed but objected to  late fees. After discussion the council voted to  forgive the  late fees.

Roger Meyer, who resides on Bluff St., received council permission to raise eight chickens. Requests such as these are decided by the council on a case by case basis with no notification of neighbors required. Council member Parker suggested that the city look at rules in other communities and consider adopting some requirements.

Dave Greve spoke to the council with a question about a building permit to build a sun room on the south side of his house on South Fourth Street. Discussion was held on the setback requirement. He was advised to take his request for a variance to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. 

The council approved a 10-year lease with the Corps of Engineers for land occupation by the south municipal marina. 

The council was introduced to two new city employees, Jack Lutgen and Hanna Millard. 

Chad Schmelzer spoke to the council asking for permission for a memorial bench for Judy Puls to be placed at the swimming pool. The matter will be placed on the June agenda after the city manager talks to the rec board.

The mayor reported that a group of people who rent marina slips want to adddress the council to discuss fishing off the docks.

Councilmember Parker said young families are having difficulty finding housing in the community due to the number of homes that are being used as weekend/vacation rentals. The city manager said the state prohibits placing a limit of the number of residences used for that purpose in a community, and suggested contacting state legislators with concerns.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)