DEWITT — About 30 angry residents attended the DeWitt City Council meeting earlier this week to discuss stormwater and sewer problems.

In the wake of recent heavy rains that caused flooding in particular on DeWitt’s south side, the citizens addressed the council and demanded that something be done.

David Bauer said he lived between Second and Third avenues and that there had been a large problem for a long time.

After six inches of rain the Fourth of July and another six inches two days later, there was water in his basement.

He said there used to be an alarm system to alert of flooding and asked what happened to it after a new sewer system had been installed.

Mayor Don Thiltgen said that most everyone knows there was a rain problem and not too many people were unaffected. He told residents to apply to their insurance company first to see if it would pay and then to the city for its insurance coverage. The city has spent money on the problem, Thiltgen said, but all of the city’s problems cannot be solved. However, the city can do better, he added. There are many considerations and the council does the best it can with the city’s money.

Resident Nylia Secia said there was a big difference between rain water and sewer water coming up through the system; another resident said the city needs to hire an engineering firm to come in and correct the problem.

Resident John Belsaas told the council in 2000 there was raw sewage in his basement and asked what had been done since.

“I just want something done. This is ridiculous.”

Noting that he had formerly lived in the area, Mike Devine said he had addressed the council on the issue in 1990 and 1993.

With the current basic need, who would want to move into the community, he asked.

Thiltgen noted cleanup behind Petersen Hagge furniture had helped the situation there.

He said there were other issues and the city needed to go back over it.

A committee of citizens, with many volunteers from the audience and headed by councilman Steve Hasenmiller was formed. Councilwoman Carole Dunkin, who represents the southern area, will also be on the committee.

“We have a plan, but there isn’t going to be a magic wand,” Thiltgen said, adding the committee will try to alleviate future problems.

In related stormwater discussion, IIW city engineer Geoff Blandin presented possibilities for the northeast area of DeWitt. He said the city is dealing with a large number of acres and three options are available. The best, he said, would be a detention area behind the former Krieger building (now Central Schools property). This would be most effective and least costly. Thiltgen said the city should start systematically looking at all areas before making a decision.

The council approved the preliminary plat of the Lake Street Development Addition, a 52-plus acre parcel between the Union Pacific Railroad, the industrial park, Sixth Avenue and East Third Avenue. This is a 6-lot plat zoned manufacturing, locally known as the O’Connor property. Currently there are no immediate plans for the plat other than Lot 1, which may be occupied by a new facility to be built and used by the Rural Electric Cooperative.

After a public hearing, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment for a new gas franchise agreement with Interstate Power and Light Co., an Alliant Energy company. The first reading of a second ordinance amendment increasing water reconnect fees to $25 for temporary vacancies also was approved.

The council voted to move forward on the German hausbarn project by voting to ship the disassembled structure to DeWitt. A resident has made the $10,000 commitment to that portion of the project. Though the city just received notice it will get a $120,000 Community Tourism and Attractions grant, about $70,000 needs yet to be funded. The council also approved a Silos and Smokestacks grant from a non-profit corporation based in Waterloo for $2,000 with a local match of $5,000.

Thiltgen said no city tax money has been used for the project.

The council approved the $36,400 contract with Hawkeye Sewage and Water Construction of Davenport for the Springbrook Country Club water main extension; a pay change from an hourly rate to $329 per month for the meter reader position; a partial mortgage release for DeWitt Development Company property, Lot 6, which may be sold for industrial use, in the industrial park; and a review of the city's investment policy. A department head residency policy was adopted, permitting the police chief, public works director and parks and recreation director to live within a two-mile radius of DeWitt.

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