Pedestrian walkway set to get underway

Contentions over the maintenance of a pedestrian walkway on the south side of Main Street came to light during the Marshalltown City Council’s first joint meeting Monday night.

Jenny Etter, Marshalltown Central Business director, said the resurfacing of the alley is slated to begin in the next two-to-three weeks and should take roughly two weeks to complete. Immediately following the resurfacing of the alley between Apgar Photography Studio, 18 1/2 W. Main St., and Fiddle & Whistle Irish Pub, 20 W. Main St., construction crews will begin installing the lighting, which will take about a week.

Painting will follow the lights and will take roughly a week as well, Etter said. Four-foot planters will bookend the alley to prevent auto traffic from entering. All work for phase one is on schedule for its October completion. The remaining work for phase two, which Etter said includes the painting of murals and any other work not handled in phase one, will see completion within a year following phase one’s completion.

However, members of the council took issue with some specifications in the contract, which now stipulates that the city will be responsible for snow removal.

Leon Lamer, at-large council member, said snow removal was not part of the agreement when the CBD asked for control of the alley.

“They assured us they would do that (remove the snow) and we would have absolutely nothing to with the alley,” he said. “If they are going to do the program, they should do what they said they are going to do.”

Randy Wetmore, city administrator, said while the specifications have changed, the CBD is now agreeing to take out the planters, benches and other things that make snow removal problematic, which is why the city asked it to handle snow removal in the first place.

Etter said the CBD volunteers would likely not be able to keep up with snow removal as well as the city.

According to documents presented to the council, the contract will extend the area originally specified by a few feet to the south.

At-large council member Bob Wenner said the businesses in that area previously expressed concern over being able to have access to allow trucks to load and unload. Etter said she has discussed that issue with the business owners, and they have no problem with the extension.

Joel Greer, second-ward council member, said he sits on the board that oversees the walkway, and while he will inevitably have to abstain from voting on the resolution, he believes the council will be pleased with how the effort is coming along.

Still, Wenner said the alley’s purpose was to provide better access to the businesses downtown. It makes little sense to remove those items in the winter since the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are when people shop most.

Curt Ward, city attorney, said people are going to walk down the alley whether or not the city clears the snow, which could pose a safety concern.

“I think the current plan makes sense,” said Bethany Wirin, at-large council member. “I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but I understand that it is really hard to keep volunteers.”

Lamer said the CBD assured the council its fundraising efforts were sufficient to support clearing snow from the alley. And the renderings the CBD originally gave the council are not even close to what the schematics call for now, he added.

Etter said she would be able to provide the council with up-to-date renderings so the council is able to better conceptualize what the alley will look like.

Wenner said he would also like concrete dates when the city would reassume responsibility for the alley.

“We need this locked down a lot better than what it is,” he said. “It’s too vague.”