Waterloo talks Moore Street, golf carts, gas

Wightman Pharmacy at 127 S. Main Street in Waterloo received a facade grant check in the amount of $5,363.72 during the March 1 council meeting. Pictured, from left, are Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith, Steve and Tom Wightman, and Alderman Jim Hopkins. 

The Waterloo City Council last Monday night approved the appropriation of nearly $1 million toward a street resurfacing project that could take place later this year if all goes well. 

The Moore Street Phase V Project involves resurfacing the roadway from Columbia Avenue north to near the north entrance of Gibault Catholic High School with new asphalt and drainage, as well as a walking path along the east side of the street.

The total cost of this project is $1.3 million, with the City of Waterloo paying $978,500 and state funding covering the rest, Waterloo Director of Public Works Tim Birk said. 

The beginning of the project is contingent on the city being able to acquire all needed right-of-way from property owners, Birk said. 

“We’d like to move forward with it this year,” Birk  said of the project. 

Also at the meeting, the council approved the appropriation of $80,900 in funding for a sidewalk project on South Market Street.

Golf cart update

The topic of golf cart and utility terrain vehicles on city streets was addressed during a recent meeting of the city’s health and safety committee.

In January, Front Street resident Pete Barnes asked the council to consider allowing the use of golf carts and utility terrain vehicles on city roadways.

In addition to the environmental benefits, he said there’s additional revenue to be made by the city in the form of application and inspection fees by becoming a golf cart and UTV friendly community.

Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise presented a letter to committee members and Barnes highlighting safety concerns with this idea.

The most obvious concern, Prosise said, is the fact Waterloo has Route 3 through the middle of town and also Route 156.

“We have issued speeding tickets on Route 3 at 80 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone,” the letter states. “We have issued speeding tickets of 70+ on Lakeview Drive. Many subdivisions would not be able to qualify because of location; Northwinds and Lou Del, West Fallen, and Stonefield and Vandebrook are locked by Route 3.”

Prosise also expressed concern that someone might drive carts on walking paths to get into town. 

Another concern expressed by Prosise is parking in the downtown area.

“We are limited already, so I fear these vehicles would park in the yellow curbing near the intersections,” Prosise said. “This becomes dangerous for our pedestrians using the crosswalks.”

Prosise also said the probability that children would attempt to drive UTVs and golf carts in town also exists if the city would allow use of these vehicles.

“Also, I recently spoke to the Highland and Columbia police chiefs. Neither of these municipalities support the use of these vehicles. We all have similar layouts with state highways,” Prosise said.

Barnes said city officials gave him the police chief’s letter and told him they will not approve the use of golf carts or side-by-sides on city streets.

“I had my attorney review the state’s rules on non-highway vehicles and he determined that the City of Waterloo does not need a ordinance or a resolution to prohibit the use,” Barnes said, adding he plans to “drop the issue for now.”

Natural gas concerns

Many communities in the Midwest saw natural gas prices soar as gas wells froze in mid-February and the demand for energy could not keep up.

“Some communities are being billed a year’s supply in one month,” said Alderman Steve Notheisen, who serves as chairman of the city’s gas committee.

Notheisen said Waterloo’s gas rate, with penalties and other fees, came out to $18.43 per dekatherm for February when it is normally $2.65 per dekatherm. 

Notheisen said the gas committee and Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith will meet on the matter 9 a.m. Thursday at City Hall.

“We’ll discuss ways to handle this and hopefully make things less painful for everybody,” he said.

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