Wellman removes No Parking signs, votes up to $467,500 for activities center

Posted 8/19/99

After hearing protests from some 19 residents in the Prairie Meadows I and II subdivisions, th…

By Ron Slechta

After hearing protests from some 19 residents in the Prairie Meadows I and II …

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Wellman removes No Parking signs, votes up to $467,500 for activities center


After hearing protests from some 19 residents in the Prairie Meadows I and II subdivisions, th…

By Ron Slechta

After hearing protests from some 19 residents in the Prairie Meadows I and II subdivisions, the Wellman City Council Monday evening, August 16, voted to remove the No Parking signs from both sides of 6th Avenue.

The citizens demanded to know why the No Parking signs had been erected, noting that 6th Avenue is wider than some downtown streets where parking is permitted on both sides.

Mayor Wilbur Swartzendruber suggested there be no parking on one side of the street until November and then no parking at all during the winter months to allow for easier snow removal. Another suggestion was to have no parking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Both suggestions were met with protests.

City Worker Brad Schaver suggested there be a citywide snow removal ordinance and children at play signs be posted since there are a lot of children in that neighborhood. Another suggestion was to post lower speed limits and have the speed limits enforced.

When questions about the concern for safety of children were raised, several parents stated it was their responsibility to keep their children out of the streets.

The council voted 5-0 to remove the signs and to post better markings for 6th Avenue at the 13th street intersection.

$467,500 for Activities Center

After a discussion with architect Steve Rohrbach and representatives of the Wellman Foundation, the council voted 3-2 to make available $67,500 more to help construct the proposed Wellman Activities Center. Representatives of the Foundation also agreed to raise an additional $67,500 plus $60,000 first year’s operating expenses.

Rohrbach demanded that the council clarify where the funds were coming from to finance the construction of the Activities complex before the informational meeting at the Mid-Prairie High School auditorium Tuesday evening, August 17th. See separate story on that meeting on page 3A.

Rohrbach said he had heard some confusion about the total costs of the structure. He stressed that he had been operating on the fact that the final costs would be approximately $785,00, plus or minus 10 percent. He noted that the city had agreed to pay $350,00 out of Tax Increment Financing (TIFF) funds plus approximately $50,000 in architect’s fees or roughly $400,000. The Foundation had agreed to raise $250,000 plus the first year’s operating funds. That left a balance of $135,000 that still needed to be committed before the plan could be presented to the public.

Foundation representative Mallory Heinz and Dennis Berger indicated that the Foundation would be willing to split the difference with the city.

Council member Murval Weidlein made the motion to allocate the city’s $467,500 costs from TIFF funds. Jelene McCain seconded the motion and Mike Slagle voted with them to approve the city’s commitment. Max Lewis and Karl Yoder voted no.

Cindy Slaubaugh questioned proceeding with the project since her informal survey indicated most citizens didn’t support the project. She questioned how the city was going to finance the operation of the facility if there aren’t enough people willing to buy memberships.

Mallory pointed out there is support, and since the committee and city had the vision to build the facility, people will join. She noted that Wellman needed such a facility to fight for its survival and attract new residents.

In a related item, the council received word from Glenn & Lesa Williams that they no longer wanted the house in the North Park (property on which the Activities Complex will be built) because Johnson County Zoning would not allow them to move the house to their property near Joetown.

The council tabled any action to dispose of the house until the September 13 meeting. Roger Borup and Dennis Berger indicated that the Wellman Rotary, which was second high bidder on the house, would still be interested in purchasing the structure, but no longer as a Habitat for Humanity home. Mayor Swartzendruber suggested of disposing of the building by auction at the next council meeting.


Mayor Swartzendruber urged people who have not yet responded to an informal ballot to approve purchase of the cable television, to submit their ballot to the city clerk’s office by Friday, August 20. The city is looking for support to arrange for Wellman Telephone to purchase the Triax Cable system or to allow Mediacom to purchase the system.

Pay increases

After doing a review of comparable wages for city employees, the council approved the following pay hikes: Brad Schaver, water/waste water, 67 cents/hourly more; Phil Slaubaugh, streets/water/wastewater, 67 cents /hourly hike; Ron Davis, gas/streets, 50 cents/hourly increase. All three split the increase that would have gone to a public works director.

Other action

In other action Monday evening, the Wellman council:

•approved the purchase of a $28,060 backup generator for the water treatment plant from Alliant Energy pending financing arrangements.

•accepted the resignation of Bonnie Durst, Senior Center Site Cook, effective August 30 and Heather Fox, cook, effective August 20.

•approved the hiring of Mildred (Millie) Whetstine as Senior Center Site Director/cook at 7.55 hourly and Mary Lynn Watkinson, Kalona, as cook at $7.33 hourly.

•approved short term lending from Wellman Federal at 5 per cent interest.

•set councils meetings for next month for September 13 and 27th due to Labor Day and vacation conflicts.

•set a public hearing for September 13 for an amendment to expand the Urban Renewal District to include the waste water facility.

•heard Mayor Swartzendruber express concern about raw sewage being dumped into an open ditch on 13th Street. He cautioned that the DNR could fine those involved up to $1,000 a day until they are hooked up to the city sewer system.