The Ottumwa Courier

May 23, 2013

Downtown beautification supplemented with utility vehicle

By CHELSEA DAVIS Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — A new utility vehicle will soon be zooming around downtown, making sure the rights-of-way remain in pristine condition.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, council members approved the purchase of a city-owned vehicle to maintain downtown landscaping in the rights-of-way.

The city received nearly $8,400 in grants as well as more than $400 from Main Street Ottumwa to fund this purchase.

”As the first time Main Street Ottumwa speaks to [the council about] anything in 2013, we’re giving you a gift,” said MSO director Bob Untiedt of the organization’s needed contribution.

While Councilman Mitch Niner also had concerns that problems could arise since the city-owned vehicle will be used by a non-city employee, City Attorney Joni Keith assured him that the city’s insurance would cover all liability.

”It’s the same as our seasonal employees,” Keith said. “They’re using city-owned equipment, but they’re not city employees.”

Two projects at the Ottumwa Regional Airport were also approved, including the construction of a steel-framed fuel truck canopy and payment for professional services for the appraisal of five properties.

The airport is currently trying to sell five properties at the industrial park, said airport maintenance supervisor Tom Francis.

”The FAA required these appraisals to be completed prior to their release of the property,” he said.

Niner had concerns that recent issues with the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight delays and pay hikes mean the city was spending unnecessary funds on these appraisals.

”We’re in the process of having FAA attorneys review if the industrial portion of the airport is obligated or required to this release from the FAA,” Keith said. “We requested that in November 2011 and we’re still waiting. In the meantime, we’re proceeding with the appraisals and getting those in the format the FAA wants them.

”We’re kind of in a bureaucratic limbo.”

The council also approved:

— The appointment of Tom McAndrew to police chief.

— A settlement agreement between the city and The Keg, which was issued a civil penalty for selling a tobacco product to an underage person.

To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.