OTTUMWA — Work on the first portion of the streetscape project has moved quickly, according to Public Works Director Larry Seals.
About 60 percent of the sanitary sewer is installed on East Main Street from Green Street to the east, Seals said. Utility work is a major component of the work, albeit one that has drawn less attention than the aesthetic changes.
The work on sewer lines will continue next week, and Seals said it would probably take a total of about two months barring delays.
The streetscape project will dramatically change the 100-300 blocks of East Main Street over the course of two construction seasons. Separation of the sanitary and storm sewers is one component, but other utility lines will also be replaced. The visible work will include an entirely new street and installation of additional landscaping.
Disruptions to the businesses along the construction route is a concern for both business owners and the city. There were some complaints early in the work focused on the city’s efforts to remind people of where parking lots are in the district. Councilwoman Holly Berg praised Main Street Ottumwa’s efforts to help with those signs.
Businesses still have access from the sidewalk, though people are not able to park on the road while it is under construction. Many of the businesses have access from the back of their buildings, and the city has encouraged people to use back entrances when available.
Those back doors have a concern of their own. Councilman Victor Streeby noted that people have paid for reserved spaces in some lots where additional traffic is being directed.
“There are spaces where people have purchased parking spaces. With the construction going on will there be citations issued?” he asked.
If parking spots are purchased, they are reserved, Seals said.
“When I was down there it seemed to be working well. There was still parking available down there,” he said.
Council members also approved the purchase of a river rescue boat for the Ottumwa Fire Department. The department lost its boat last fall in a night rescue. No one was injured in the incident, but Fire Chief Tony Miller said it was the second time the department had lost a boat during a rescue.
Those losses led the department to look more closely at how it approached river rescues. Miller told the council the conclusion focused on the need for a boat specifically designed for rescue operations. It’s more expensive than a cheap fishing boat, but it’s a tool for a very particular need.
The approval was unanimous. Donations will cover more than $30,000 of the price tag, leaving the city’s portion at $21,000.