“The city has let [the lagoons] go for so long. That should never have been let go. You could have canoeing, kayaking, paddle boats.”
5. Economic development must be the city's top priority, Stevens said. That effort needs a long-term vision, as does revision of the city's code. He'd like to revisit issues in the new nuisance ordinance to clarify them. Without clarity, he said, it's difficult for a citation to stand up in court.
“Probably the top priority would be economic development. We need a vision and we need goals. I think we need to look at our entire code book.”
1. Dalbey is a union steward at John Deere and says he and his family are committed to Ottumwa and the city's future. He sees that future bound up in the city's ability to adapt to the new property tax structure following the state's reforms and having employers that pay a decent wage. They're challenges, he said, but not insurmountable.
“I would like to see an increased focus on making livable wage jobs come to Ottumwa. Whatever this business requires to locate here, we need to take that into consideration. Sometimes the choices are going to be tough.”
2. Incentives would provide a boost for downtown redevelopment, but the city needs to weigh how to offer them. Trust would help as well. When the sewer separation project is finished, Dalbey wants the taxes that paid for it to come off the books as a show of good faith that temporary taxes are not always going to be permanent features.
“That's an essential component. You've got to have those incentives in place.”
3. Improving the city's appearance is a necessary step, Dalbey said. That means getting people to buy in and commit to making it happen. Honest conversations between city leaders and residents are a first step, before tightening any ordinances. But if unkempt or dilapidated properties hurt Ottumwa's chances of growth, that's a concern for everyone.