The Oskaloosa City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday evening at the Oskaloosa City Hall and the main topic discussed was once again the initiative to make Oskaloosa a healthier and more inviting community for recreation.
The meeting began with public comments. Several citizens addressed the council regarding their support for adopting a resolution on the plan put together by the Oskaloosa Bicycle Initiative. The plan, named “Walk, Run, Ride Oskaloosa: Oskaloosa’s Active Transportation Plan,” was supported by each community member, hoping the council would be taking a step toward improving sidewalks and making Oskaloosa more friendly for biking and walking around town. Every member of the community who stepped to the microphone was in favor of the council taking positive action toward the item on the agenda.
When the item was reached, the council heard the full presentation for the outline of the plan that would make Oskaloosa safer for cyclists and pedestrians and create a network of paths and trails that could get these citizens to all parts of Oskaloosa safely. The cost of the proposed outline as it stood was 6.1 million dollars. 83 percent of that would be toward sidewalk installation and renovation. 14 percent would be going to crosswalk improvement. And the other 3 percent would be dedicated to bike lanes and bike racks around town.
After the presentation, council member Jason Van Zetten immediately questioned why the Coalition would bring this kind of plan to the council for that price, saying that is way to high for this kind of action. Council member Aaron Ver Steeg (ver-STEGG) said there is really no need to go out of the way to put this kind of plan into action, since things have been fine for bikers and pedestrians for a while. Both council members said there were portions to the sidewalk renovations and additions that could be addressed, but they were not in support of the plan as it stood.
All other council members were receptive to pass the resolution and talk about each detail as it comes up. Council member Doug Yates explained that the Oskaloosa Bicycle Coalition is full of bright people of the community and if they thought it was a good idea, he respects their wisdom on the subject.
After lengthy discussion, the council voted 5-2 in favor of passing the resolution, with Van Zetten and Ver Steeg voting no. This action is not to pass the plan as a whole, but only to proceed with the progressions of the project at a later date as more concrete details get ironed out.
In other action, the council reviewed a situation regarding city code with vehicles parked on grass in Oskaloosa, which has resulted in some community members being cited with warnings and fines. Council members Ver Steeg and Van Zetten think “common sense” should win out, and that if someone is parking on their own property and it is not creating grotesque looking lawns, they should not be fined.
Fire Chief Mark Neff and City Manager Michael Schrock both explained that the council would have to change the law, but using the term “common sense” is too vague, and cannot be defined. The code will still be enforced as it is in the law until the council acts on the code to make amendments.
The minutes of the meeting can be viewed on www.oskaloosaiowa.org.
The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council is scheduled for May 4th at 6 PM at the Oskaloosa City Hall.