Colona City Council members experienced some growing pains while determining the scope of their new responsibilities Monday night, but agreed on many issues and ended the meeting amicably.
After initial public comments, a cadre of council members disagreed with Mayor Rick Lack’s committee appointments. Ald. Larry Ropp, 3rd Ward, presented a proposal for alternate committee appointments to the mayor and council, but his plan could not be put to a vote since city council rules say proposals have to be on the agenda prior to the meeting.
Council members appeared to be on the edge of an argument over the issue, and then resident Cheri Powell stood up to comment.
“You are the leaders…if you can’t work together who are we supposed to emulate?”, said Powell.
Audience members applauded and the council moved on to other agenda items.
Mayor Lack reported that representatives from the Illinois Department of Transportation visited the city last week to look at the railroad track that runs through Colona. IDOT plans to install a new line traveling from the Quad Cities to Chicago. Evaluating existing track in the city and planning for upgrades or repairs is part of that expansion project. If repairs or upgrades are needed the city will not have to pay for them.
The council approved plans created by engineering firm Shive-Hattery to upgrade the city’s sewage treatment plant.
“We are out of compliance with the…plant and have had two or three failures in the past three years”, said Public Works Director Rick Crew.
Crew also pointed out that the Environmental Protection Agency has “given us waivers to get by,” but that a plant upgrade is the only long-term solution.
City Clerk Linda Teichman won council approval for Colona to join the Local Debt Recovery Program administered by the State of Illinois Comptroller. LDRP, which costs the city nothing, helps towns and cities collect outstanding debts like power and water bills when residents move and don’t pay off all their bills.
The council also approved a request from Verizon to add a cellphone relay antenna on the city’s water tower. That will result in $6,000 of income with more renumeration expected in the future.
But the matter that garnered the most concern from some residents is the planned sewer crossing at South 3rd Street near the Hennepin Canal.
According to Crew, a short section of Hennepin Canal at South 3rd Street goes through a 48 inch pipe placed there years ago. The pipe is not large enough to accommodate heavy water flow, so the canal has been backing up in that area. During a phone call Tuesday, Crew said this back-up causes the berm around that section to erode and topple.
The city is concerned that major flooding and the resulting back-up at that section would collapse the berm and damage the city’s sewer system. The proposed plan replaces the 48 inch pipe with a 10 ft. by 14 ft. box culvert. (Link shows an example of a box culvert.)
Crew said neighbors in the area are divided on whether or not to put a bike path over the culvert once it’s installed, or connect South 3rd Street to Greenview Avenue.
Several members of the public commented on the canal plan and the council briefly discussed it, but a decision was delayed in lieu of more study. More discussion on the matter is scheduled for the next Public Works Committee meeting, Thursday May 16 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Prior to ending the meeting, committee assignments were discussed again, but under the agenda item of the mayor’s appointments as required by council rules.
Board members suggested a few changes in Lack’s appointments, he consented to them, the changes were put to a vote and the compromise committee placements were passed without dissension.
Attorney Graham Lee was seated with the board to offer guidance on policies and procedures.