2020 is a year many won’t soon forget, and the City of Clear Lake is no exception.
Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory, who’s been in local government for more than 25 years, said this year has been “undoubtedly the most complicated” one for him.
“However, while for many it is a year best forgotten; replete with challenges, tough moments, and disappointments, there were also many positive things that we can celebrate and build upon as we prepare for 2021,” he said.
New businesses opened, construction started, projects were completed and celebrated and the community rallied together to survive and thrive in Clear Lake this year amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Flory and Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb are grateful for the city’s employees and the residents’ support during 2020 and they are optimistic about the city’s future.
“I truly believe that in these next five years, there will be a strong, strong interest in this town with regard to commercial and residential property expansion,” Crabb said. “I’m anxious to see where this town will be going in the next five years. I think it will be a great boon to the area as well as to this part of the state as well as to the North Iowa corridor … We are ready to really take off once again.”
Before looking ahead, here’s a look back at some of the City of Clear Lake’s most notable actions in 2020:
• The Clear Lake City Council awarded the second phase of the Clear Lake City Beach enhancement project, including a splash pad, new restroom facility and a sunshade shelter, to Peterson Construction, of Webster City, for nearly $1.1 million.
• The City Council approved a $94,200 bid from Pier Genius, of Woden, to replace the longtime fixed post and plank dock with a floating dock at the Sea Wall and Main Avenue boat ramp location.
• The Clear Lake City Council approved the issuance of $700,000 in general obligation bonds after a public hearing for its contribution to the Clear Lake Community School District’s multimillion-dollar recreation and wellness center located south of the high school.
• Clear Lake approved a two-year extension of the operating agreement with Veterans Memorial Golf Club Foundation Inc. for Veterans Memorial Golf Club, a public nine-hole course positioned lakeside on 61 acres at 2000 N. Shore Drive.
• The City Council approved the maximum property tax levy for fiscal year 2021 at $9.70 per $1,000 taxable property valuation for the third straight year.
• Residents within the Clear Lake Community School District passed an $18 million bond referendum during a special election to fund construction and improvement projects at the elementary, middle school and high school facilities. The wellness center, which is being done in collaboration with the City of Clear Lake, is among the projects.
• The Clear Lake City Council awarded the contract for the Main Avenue street reconstruction and bike lane extension project between 14th and 20th streets to Wicks Construction Inc., of Decorah, for about $2.2 million.
• The City Council approved a preliminary economic development incentive agreement with VKB Management LLC and JSM Investment LLC, of Johnston, to build a multimillion-dollar hotel and event center in Courtway Park east of Interstate 35 after the previous developer’s purchase option expired.
• The Clear Lake City Council approved spending $140,000 from the city’s economic development fund on three initiatives to support small locally owned businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic after public hearings. The initiatives were done in partnership with the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp. and the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
• The City Council tabled its $250,000 alley resurfacing project after receiving one bid that was about 25% more than the engineer’s estimate of probable cost.
• Staff from Pier Genius, of Woden, helped install Clear Lake’s new $94,200 floating dock to replace its longtime fixed post and plank dock, at the Sea Wall and Main Avenue boat ramp location.
• The Clear Lake City Council approved a development agreement with JSM Investment LLC, of Johnston, to build a multimillion-dollar hotel and event center in the Courtway Park subdivision east of Interstate 35. The development agreement includes annual appropriation of tax-increment payments not to exceed $1.5 million and other incentives.
• Nearly 20 individuals, including the general contractor, developer, landowners, Clear Lake staff and council, and community members, attended a brief groundbreaking ceremony for the 85-room Marriott-brand hotel and attached event center in Courtway Park east of Interstate 35 in Clear Lake. The new hotel, which is scheduled to be completed by June 2021, is the city’s first in at least 20 years.
• Nearly 100 people gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Clear Lake to celebrate the completion of the city’s $1.4 million City Beach enhancement project, including a new splash pad, ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
• Wicks Construction started the Main Avenue street reconstruction and bike lane extension project earlier than initially scheduled because of the cancellation of the city’s Fourth of July Celebration festivities, like the parade, due to COVID-19.
• The Clear Lake City Council approved a resolution establishing a voluntary retirement incentive program that would assist eligible city employees who wish to retire but can’t due to health insurance coverage concerns. Public Works Director Joe Weigel, Finance Officer Linda Nelson and Police Lt. Paul Chizek opted to participate and retire before Sept. 30.
• The City Council approved a professional services agreement with Northland Securities to provide placement services for its planned issuance of $700,000 in general obligation bonds for the new wellness center.
• The Clear Lake City Council in a 4-1 vote, with Bennett Smith opposed, approved an ordinance limiting commercial use of the Sea Wall and Main Avenue City Dock two weeks after it was referred to the four-member Clear Lake Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for review and recommendation.
• The City of Clear Lake began its search to fill the public works director, finance officer and police lieutenant vacancies left by the retirement of Weigel, Nelson and Chizek.
• Clear Lake Board of Education approved Dean Snyder Construction’s $10.6 million bid for the 81,000-square-foot recreation and wellness center. Of the bid, the district’s cost is about $9.8 million and the city’s portion is about $845,550.
• The Clear Lake City Council approves a 28E agreement with the Clear Lake Community School District to build, operate and finance the multimillion-dollar recreation and wellness center.
• Clear Lake announces the hiring of Creighton Schmidt, of Cedar Rapids, as its new finance director.
• Officers Brandon Heinz and Cory Gute were sworn in as lieutenants for the Clear Lake Police Department to fill the vacancy left by Chizek. Heinz is the second-watch commander and Gute is the third-watch commander.
• The Clear Lake City Council awarded its five-year $700,000 general obligation loan note for the recreation and wellness center to Manufacturer’s Bank & Trust, or MBT Bank, that proposed a 0.37% interest rate.
• The City Council approved the preliminary plat for the Flat Rock subdivision consisting of two lots on nearly 11 acres on Highway 122 between North 36th Place and the future extension of North 40th Street. Flatrock Group LLC is building a one-story 14,536-square-foot pre-engineered metal building to house RAKA, a business currently at 11332 265th St. in Mason City, on Lot 1, located off the corner of North 36th Place and Highway 122.
• More than 40 individuals with the Clear Lake Community School District, City of Clear Lake, Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, ATURA architecture and Dean Snyder Construction attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the new recreation and wellness center.
• The City Council awarded the Buddy Holly Place railroad crossing project to Complete Concrete, of Clear Lake, for $49,591.
• The Clear Lake City Council approved an employment agreement appointing Jeremy Korenberg, who’s been the city’s operations and maintenance superintendent for nearly three years, to interim public works director.
• The City Council approved a professional services agreement with Veenstra & Kimm Inc., of Mason City, for the next phase of the Main Avenue street reconstruction and bike lane extension project between Eighth and 14th streets. The project is estimated to cost $2.2 million.
• Framing begins at the Marriott hotel and event center in the Courtway Park subdivision east of Interstate 35 in Clear Lake.
• The Clear Lake City Council approved a resolution adopting the Sunset School Urban Revitalization Plan and an ordinance designating the area of Clear Lake as the 2020 Sunset School Urban Revitalization Area after a public hearing where residents near the former Sunset View Preschool property in Clear Lake voiced concerns about how it will be redeveloped.
• The City Council approved a five-year extension of a property tax rebate agreement with the North Iowa Cultural Center & Museum, the nonprofit that operates the historic Surf Ballroom & Museum in Clear Lake.
• The Clear Lake City Council unanimously approved a resolution to issue general obligation debt in an amount not to exceed $600,000 to purchase the Cerro Gordo County Maintenance Garage on South 15th Street and the former Woodford Lumber & Home Co. building on North Fourth Street for future park and library expansion projects, respectively. The park will comprise the Everybody Plays playground.
• The City Council set a public hearing for Jan. 4 to refund a not-to-exceed $715,000 in outstanding taxable general obligation economic development bonds issued for the McKesson Corp.
• The City Council approved a resolution referring the zoning request for the former Sunset View Preschool property at 408 Mars Hill Drive, owned by Dolly James LLC, to the Clear Lake Planning and Zoning Commission for review and recommendation and set Feb. 1 for the public hearing to consider it. The developer wants to rezone the property to accommodate a lease agreement with Clear Lake Classical, a private Christian school.
Ashley Stewart covers Clear Lake and arts and entertainment in North Iowa for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 641-421-0533. Follow Ashley on Twitter at GGastewart.