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Forest City council still considering options for Bear Creek bridge replacement

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Forest City Council members vigorously discussed a $17,000 professional services agreement proposal with WHKS & Co. Vice President/Mason City office manager Scott Sweet on Jan. 3.

It regards an unsafe creek bridge at Bear Creek Golf Course and hydrologic/hydraulic modeling at the bridge location that is in a detailed study area, according to Sweet. Several council members voiced concerns about spending so much money only on the study, which could help determine a best path forward for bridge replacement.

“I’d like to see some more numbers and figures first,” said council member Ron Holland, suggesting since it is early January, there is still time to collect more information and make a more educated decision.

“Maybe we should just eliminate it,” Holland said. “You’re saying it is just a little more time on a cart or walking.”

But there could be some bottleneck concerns in the area during large golf tournaments, which could be a detriment if the bridge is not replaced. City attorney Steve Bakke said the bridge would need to be closed permanently if were not replaced, because it is a liability. The council learned on Nov. 1 that it has safety issues that require immediate attention when an WHKS engineer provided results of numerous bridge inspections on the course.

“What this (assessment) will do is it will give us some options,” said Bakke.

Several options to replace the bridge over Beaver Creek on hole 11 were noted during the meeting. They include a full bridge, smaller rail car bridge, a large corrugated metal pipe or several smaller CMPs, reinforced concrete boxes, or even culverts for which the city may have some materials on-hand. The city will need to obtain a DNR permit for the work.

“Completing the study gives us a better idea for design and what we need to do in the next phase for construction plans.” said Sweet, who also noted it could help ensure that the right kind of structure goes in there, so there is not a rise in the creek. It was also noted that delaying the bridge replacement study could cause delays at a time when costs of construction materials continue to rise.

In giving his best estimates of what will be needed, Sweet said he doubts a full-fledged bridge replacement will be needed while calculating that it easily could cost $100,000 for a replacement structure.

“I don’t see this as being a debt issue,” said council member Tony Mikes. When a motion to approve the $17,000 study was made, the motion was defeated 4-3.

Council members unanimously passed the second reading of an ordinance, limiting parking to one side of the street only on the south side of E Street, from Clark Street to 4th Street; the east side of South 7th Street, from G Street to E Street; and the east side of South 9th Street, from J Street to I Street. However, a vote on possible waiving of the rules requiring the ordinance to be read on three separate days was defeated 6-1. The third reading of the parking ordinance will occur at the Jan. 17 council meeting.

In other business:

  • Mayor Barney Ruiter announced that Barbara Mills and Anna Wirtjes have been hired as part-time librarians at a rate of $11.50 per hour.
  • Council members unanimously approved the Oakland Municipal Cemetery Board's recommendation to increase the rates for cemetery plots to $310 per space. The total cost includes $50 for perpetual care, $250 for plot space, and $10 tax. At its Dec. 14, 2021, meeting the cemetery board announced that the the Iowa Insurance Division was raising the perpetual care fund from $5 to $10 for all burial plots sales. The cemetery board voted unanimously to add that extra $5 fee to the purchase of burial plots.
  • The council established a 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 budget workshop.
  • Forest City’s street and sanitation superintendent, Mike O'Rourke, announced it was his last official city council meeting. He is retiring and Andrew Faber will be the new street and sanitation superintendent. The mayor and council members thanked O'Rourke for his service to the city. A retirement celebration for O'Rourke is being planned for some time in February.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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