Lights to keep downtown Waterloo glowing

Pictured, front to back, Boy Scout Webelos Kyle Kern, Conor Jacobson and Logan Luebbers present the American flag at the start of Monday’s meeting of the Waterloo City Council at City Hall. The young scouts were completing their merit badge requirement on citizenship. Looking on is scout leader Kathleen Jacobson. (Kermit Constantine photo)

Positive feedback on the strands of Christmas lights over the streets around the courthouse has prompted the Waterloo City Council to illuminate downtown year-round.

The council on Monday night approved the purchase of white lights for downtown Waterloo at a cost not to exceed $30,000. This will be paid for out of the city’s Video Gaming Downtown Beautification Fund.

In 2015, the council approved the purchase of multi-colored LED Christmas light strands out of the same fund to be displayed over Main Street in an effort to give an “old-time look” to downtown, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said then.

That effort was met with glowing reviews, so the city extended the lights a few extra blocks north on Main Street and east and west on Mill Street this Christmas season.

Last year, alderman Russ Thomas mentioned the idea of having white lights similar to the Christmas lights displayed year-round.

The city plans to display the white lights in the same areas as the Christmas lights, but with strands placed on every other light post. The city also hopes to place these lights on Third Street at the southern end of the courthouse.

The state’s decision a few years ago to allow video gambling in taverns, restaurants and other establishments means added revenue for the cities who allow the practice.

For Waterloo, that extra money goes toward efforts to beautify downtown. The state gets 25 percent of gambling revenue, while municipalities receive 5 percent.

In addition to these downtown lights, Waterloo’s Video Gaming Downtown Beautification Fund has helped pay for hanging flower baskets, signs for historic buildings and painted murals on select buildings.

In 2014, the city’s share of  gambling revenue was $45,591.73. That total increased to nearly $59,000 in 2015 and is estimated to be $75,000 in 2016.

In other action from the meeting, the council approved a low bid in the amount of $227,376.34 from Kamadulski Excavating of Granite City for a Sunset Lift Station replacement project. Work is scheduled to begin March 1.

The council also approved the execution of a professional services agreement between the city and HMG Engineers for services related to a Park Street sewer extension project at an amount not to exceed $53,000.

The council also voted to amend its city ordinance dealing with raffles so that it is current with state statutes.

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