Five things to know from Traer Council

Mayor, Erhardt take oath of office

Traer City Council member Jamie Erhardt (left) and Traer Mayor Pete Holden (right) take the oath of office from City Clerk Haley Blaine (not pictured) in Traer Municipal Hall moments ahead of the regular Jan. 3, 2022 meeting of the city council. Both Erhardt and Holden were re-elected to their respective offices in last November’s combined city and school election. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

The first Traer City Council meeting of 2022 took place on Jan. 3 and began with the swearing-in of Mayor Pete Holden and Council Member Jamie Erhardt – who both won their reelection bids in last November’s school and municipal elections – and then it was back to business for the council.

1. Street improvements 2022

The decision was made by the council to alter the engineering service agreement slightly for the next round of street improvements. Initially, the plan for 2022 was to begin work on the stretch of Walnut Street from Sixth Street south to Toledo Street. Due to the most recent facility study options put forth by the North Tama County School District – some of which seek to expand over the section of Walnut Street between Sixth and Seventh – City Clerk Haley Blaine recommended the council instead start at Seventh Street as well as work on Iowana and Ninth streets. “Rather than putting a lot of money into a street project right there and the school deciding ‘hey, we’re buying that and going to build over it,’ we thought maybe we just avoid that [section] and get that in the next set of projects, “Blaine said. The council agreed with the changes Blaine recommended and the agreement was approved.

2. Nuisance properties update

Blaine provided an update on the nuisance properties located on Berlin Avenue in the northeast corner of Traer. Letters were delivered to the property owners and renters between Dec. 8, 2021 and Dec. 12, 2021 by the Tama County Sheriff’s Dept. Blaine shared photos of the properties taken on Dec. 7 and then again on Dec. 27. Blaine said she has heard from one property owner since the letters were delivered. The photos do not show much change to the condition of the properties in the 20 day time span, Blaine said, other than a couple of vehicles having been removed. Following discussion between Blaine, the council members, and Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera who was also present at the meeting, the council decided another letter detailing the fine(s) to be levied would be sent exactly 30 days from the first letter. After an additional 10 days have passed – and if the nuisance issues have not been addressed – council members expressed a desire for the city to then begin cleaning up the properties. Council members Jon Panfil and Erhardt asked that the new city attorney Brent Lechtenberg attend the February council meeting in order to better determine the next steps for the nuisance properties and the city’s pertinent ordinances.

3. Seventh Street crosswalk

Blaine shared with the council that North Tama Schools would like to erect a crosswalk running between the south side of the school and its parking area on Seventh Street. There is a crosswalk located at each corner of the school on Seventh currently, but North Tama Transportation Director Joel Larsen would like an additional crosswalk in the center of Seventh behind the school where students currently cross the street to gain access through the lunchroom doors. Larsen would like to place a removable sign in the intersection before and after school that alerts drivers to “stop when pedestrians are in the crosswalk.” Blaine said Larsen might also like some help from the city with the painting of crosswalk lines. The council did not take a vote on the issue but agreed Larsen had the city’s permission to proceed with a removable sign.

4. Traer Manufacturing building update

Council member Erhardt gave a very brief update on the work he has been doing with the owners of the former Traer Manufacturing building, Heartland Co-op. The building – located south of Traer on Hwy 63 – is in need of significant remediation since sustaining damage in the 2011 derecho. In 2012 the city was deeded the property by its parent company and in 2015, Heartland Co-op acquired the property from the city as well as a $200,000 remediation fund. The city of Traer has been working with Heartland to determine if the city could again acquire the property for use as a possible community building. Erhardt shared he will soon be scheduling a time to meet with Heartland leadership – a meeting that had been put on hold due to the 2021 harvest season and then the municipal election in November, Erhardt said.

5. February meeting update

It was decided by the council to move the regular February meeting from Monday, Feb. 7 to Tuesday, Feb. 8 beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Traer Municipal Hall in order to avoid conflicts with the 2022 Iowa Midterm Caucus. Both Republican and Democratic midterm caucuses are set to take place on the evening of Monday, Feb. 7.