CLINTON — After several weeks of residents commenting on safety issues in South Clinton, the Clinton City Council will discuss those issues in detail during the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 27.

At Tuesday’s council meeting during the time reserved for audience comment, ADM Plant Manager Jim Woll said that after spending much time at council meetings recently, he had intended to watch the meeting from home. Woll noted that after the last meeting, he felt compelled to comment because several people “mistakenly gave total credit to ADM for the decision to locate the proposed PHA Plastics operation west of South Fourth Street.”

“I neglected to remind the public that the decision was made after meetings with the city staff, the mayor and the council,” Woll said. “These meetings were held because of safety concerns expressed by the public and the council at the first public hearing that was held on this matter. The council urged us to consider several alternatives that would reduce traffic on residential streets.”

Woll said that once the decision was made to leave South Fourth Street open, ADM officials concluded plant operations were best served by locating the load-out area on the west side of the street.

“Finally, I would like to add that from the first project consideration meeting to the last council meeting, the mayor and council have supported this project. I believe that she saw its value in terms of the property tax revenue that it would generate and the value that the new jobs would add to the city of Clinton,” Woll said. “I am certain that in all the meetings that were held, the mayor and council had the best interests of all the citizens of Clinton in mind as you made your decision.”

At-large Councilman Ron Mallicoat addressed the council and public, offering praise for Woll and ADM.

“I just want to say how fortunate we are to have an ADM plant in Clinton, Iowa. They are an outstanding company,” said Mallicoat. “We are equally as fortunate to have a plant manager of Jim Woll’s caliber. I would like to offer a round of applause for Jim Woll and ADM.”

South Clinton resident Ed Broderick took the podium and said there are many questions but no answers in South Clinton. Broderick said a meeting was held in August with Mayor LaMetta Wynn, council members, City Planning Director John Staszewski and Woll. He alleged that issues discussed at the meeting included the South Clinton plant expansion, the sale of city-owned property, area designations, zoning issues, tax abatements and the sale of Cortland Young Park. Broderick said it seemed the meeting was an important one and asked why no minutes were recorded at the meeting.

Broderick questioned information provided to residents in regard to the properties desired by ADM. Broderick said while a map was provided to the city clearly detailing what the company wanted to purchase, South Clinton residents received misleading information from Staszewski, which he later called a “typo.”

“This was not a typo. This was a deliberate and blatant deception,” remarked Broderick.

Broderick then asked why no traffic safety study was completed before selling the park or vacating several streets, as is required by state code, and how Staszewski could deem a frequently used park and streets to have no public value.

“Our safety was being compromised by the planning director. And you, the mayor and the council did nothing to protect us. Our own council person, Mr. Soesbe, would not help us. He did not ‘get paid enough’ to make his job a 24-hour a day job. He ran for this job, nobody pushed him into it,” Broderick stated. “I am not here tonight to tell you how to do your job, we just want you to do your job.”

Broderick presented the council with pictures of the South Fourth Street viaduct to demonstrate “just how unsafe” it is. He added the viaduct is crumbling and cracking daily from the increase in truck traffic. Broderick pointed out ADM is parking switch engines on the structure, which is not good. He further stated that a leaking, rusting benzene tank has fumes emitting from it that are making South Clinton residents sick.

“We do not need to flood the council with petitions to get things done. If so, that’s a very poor way to run a city,” advised Broderick. “How can the city leave a planning director in office that has no regard for public safety? The city of Clinton deserves better than this.”

Broderick said he was going to start getting signatures on a petition calling for the mayor and council to remove Staszewski from office. He vowed that unlike the last petition circulated in South Clinton, he would canvass the whole city with the petition.

“This status quo has to stop. Start sticking up for your people, protect our safety and our health. This city can and will be a great place to live. Let’s make our citizens proud to live here,” Broderick pleaded.

Following Broderick’s comments, Mallicoat responded to his criticism of the council by pointing out five of seven council members ran for their seats unopposed. Mallicoat added that the council is “trying to do our best.” Broderick asked why no one ran against the councilmembers and Mallicoat replied that many people probably don’t want to sit on the council, saying that most of the pats on the back are below the belt. He added he hopes in the future, people will want to be on the council.

Broderick stated that when a pat on the back is deserved, the council would get one.

Later in the meeting under unfinished business, Ward 4 Councilman Rodger Holm asked that the South Clinton safety issues, such as the viaduct and benzene tank, be put on the committee of the whole agenda to be discussed. Holm noted that the issues need to be remedied. At-large Councilman Mark Vulich told the council that lights for the Fourth Street and Second Street viaducts have been ordered and will be repaired as soon as the parts are received.

Mallicoat said that repairs to the two viaducts came up approximately five years ago and during talks, it was stated it would take several million dollars to fix. Mallicoat said the money would not come from the city, nor should it, and he suggested the next time city officials make a trip to Washington, D.C., they ask for the money to fix the viaducts.

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