News and Notes from Traer City Council

Downtown snow removal, Traer Man building discussed

The topic of the city spearheading snow removal for the 2022-2023 winter season along Second Street in Traer’s downtown business district was a main topic of discussion during the November 7 city council meeting.

Two bids were received by the city for snow removal including one from Ayden Staker and one from Kyle Mesch.

Mesch – who handled the city’s snow removal last season – was present at the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, letters were sent to all Second Street business owners inviting them to attend and learn more about the possibility of the city managing their snow removal this season and then billing for the service. None were in attendance Monday evening.

The impetus behind the idea, council member Jamie Erhardt explained, was “to have [Second Street] cleared” and open up downtown quickly following a snow event. Only the front of businesses along Second Street would be cleared – back entrances, side entrances, etc. would be left up to the individual business owners.

As proof of liability insurance was not received as part of the bid from Staker – a requirement – the council voted unanimously to hire Mesch for this season’s snow removal services.

Charges for the service will more than likely be billed on a monthly basis by the city.

If a business wants to continue to conduct its own snow removal services, such work will have to be completed by a set time – 5 a.m. being the most likely – otherwise, the city will proceed and the business will be charged more for not having it done.

Traer Manufacturing discussed

The ongoing saga between the city and Heartland Co-op as it relates to the former Traer Manufacturing building – damaged extensively in the 2011 derecho – came to a head during the November meeting.

In 2012 the city was deeded the property by its parent company and in 2015, Heartland Co-op acquired the property from the city.

Council member Erhardt has been working for well over a year to engage Heartland in talks to reacquire at least part of the building located on the south side of town along Hwy 63 in order to get it cleaned up – a task that Heartland was supposed to do using $200,000 in remediation funds set aside for such purpose.

As of Monday evening’s council meeting, no remediation work had taken place and the city’s communication with Heartland remained at a standstill.

Blaine shared with council members the city’s attorney Brent Lechtenberg had provided a couple of options for the city moving forward – continue to send letters to Heartland regarding the nuisance ordinance, or begin to fine the company per day, every day there is a nuisance.

“The citizens of Traer have had enough of looking at that [deteriorating] building. They are upset about it,” Erhardt responded. “Something has to happen with this building.”

The decision was made to move forward with beginning to fine Heartland Co-op for the nuisance violations.

Fire station update

Council member and deputy fire chief Matt Rausch gave a brief update on the Traer Fire Department’s planned six-bay building which is slated to be built adjacent to the current fire station located on the east end of Second Street.

A new building became necessary after the department received the donation of the 55-foot aerial truck – a truck too big for the current station.

“Still on schedule,” Rausch told the council. “[Chief Tyler Sell] still plans on it getting built this year yet. We’ll see.”