DEWITT — Though not on the agenda, a member of the audience at the DeWitt City Council meeting this week caused the ongoing sidewalk debate to again come alive in its multifaceted dimensions.

Rich Handel, of 502 Sixth Ave., asked why people who have sidewalks need to repair them, but those who don’t have sidewalks have to do nothing.

“If you own property in DeWitt, you should have a sidewalk,” he said, adding it was unsafe not to have them. He noted that in some neighborhoods the sidewalk was on only one side of the street or it was in front of one house and not the adjacent house.

Mayor Don Thiltgen said the city has endeavored to enforce a sidewalk ordinance, but where there is no sidewalk the property is “grandfathered in,” which means no sidewalk was required when a residence or building was built.

Putting in sidewalks has been an ongoing battle and has been for many years, councilwoman Peggy McAvan said.

It's a long-term project and eventually the present policy will provide for sidewalks everywhere, councilman Kurt Ketelsen told Handel.

A second group of citizens from the Clinton County Fair Board also spoke, but this time it was for an agenda item. Curtis Claeys, Lee Barber and Don Cain asked the council for permission to provide electric power for up to 20 campers on the property adjacent to the Clinton County Extension building.

Barber said the current hook-ups were no longer adequate, and the temporary camper site would be used during the Clinton County Fair and possibly a few other events, like the annual dog show. The area is zoned R-1, single family residential.

Brenda Steward, who lives next to the proposed site, asked if portable lights and security would be used at night. Steward said she has lived in her residence for more than 40 years and has had some bad experiences over that time. She also asked for a clearly marked fence line for her property and trash cleanup. All of her concerns would be accommodated, Barber said.

“Our intent is to be good neighbors,” Cain said, with Claeys adding he thought the fair is an asset for DeWitt.

The request was approved.

In a public hearing, Tim Crabb of the East Central Intergovernmental Agency of Dubuque updated progress on the 2006 Home Ownership Assistance Program. The program budget was $346,490, of which $321,490 was from the Iowa Department of Economic Development and $25,000 from the city. Each home was allowed $24,999.

Of the 10 active projects, three were completed, three were nearly complete, one had work started, and three had the contracts signed but no work had begun, Crabb said. The program is designed to provide safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for 10 households.

The council approved an application to the Iowa Department of Transportation for funding extension of the recreational trail at Westbrook Park and the official endorsement of Phase II of the Skeffington Memorial Trail project. A sum of $500,000 is requested with a local match of $183,200 for an .82 mile extension from the north end of Westbrook under the 11th Street bridge and north along Silver Creek. The trail will cross the creek and continue to the west edge of the Hickory Bend subdivision.

An increase in garbage rates from $11.25 to $11.50 per month was approved as of July 1.

The rate increase was part of the budget workshop and will match the increase in the contract with Allied Waste.

The council approved purchase of a 2002 Bombardier ATV for $2,000 from Barr Sales and Service for use in the police department and closing portions of 10th, Sixth, and Eighth streets and Fourth Avenue for the annual Fourth of July parade from 10 a.m. to noon.