Newton City Council approves grant for new hotel

The Newton City Council passed a $125,000 economic land grant and partial property tax rebate resolution to partially fund the renovation of a local hotel located next to the Valero gas station at 4300 S. 22nd Ave. E., with Boulders Inn and Suites during Monday night’s meeting.

The hotel chain is based out of Denison and entered into a preliminary agreement with Bank Iowa to purchase the unfinished hotel. The hotel is expected to open in time for Iowa Speedway’s season and construction will begin immediately. 

Once the project is complete, the city should have a new 42-unit hotel valued at $1.5 million.

Before the council voted on the matter, they asked Director of Finance and Development Bryan Friedman to discuss the project.

“Boulders Inn and Suites (are) willing take on this small project,” Friedman said. “The city had initially bought it for $250,000 as part of the economic development grant. We’ve paid off half of that to Newton developers prior to that project stalling. So we have $125,000 in reserve (that can be used for this project).”   

Boulders Inn and Suites has six other locations. Their other hotels are found near Iowa golf courses or lakes in Denision, Lake View, Atlantic, Okoboji and their most recent hotel in Polk City. It will be opening in May.

Position Change

The council changed the city’s city clerk position to HR specialist. The position of city clerk will not eliminated, but revised to better suit the clerk’s role and duties.

Before the council voted, they asked City Administrator Robert Knabel to inform them about the then proposed change.

“The function is very similar to what you had with the director of administrative services,” Knabel said. “The position there was performing city clerk duties, responsibilities, assigned things to city clerk, responded to city clerk and that will be the same with this, only it will be HR specialist.”

The HR specialist will officially have added responsibilities. Some of the added responsibilities are maintaining the employee handbook, maintaining personnel files, providing paperwork with open enrollment information and assisting in hiring of future employees.

Streets

The council passed a $1.6 million street pavement project located at E. 31st St. N. The city will be pay $320,000, and the rest of it will be covered by federal aid, but before the vote, councilmen Dennis Julius addressed the council and public about a common misconception of pavement projects.

“I just want to clarify for the public that we got this allocation every year, and you either build it up or use it,” Julius said. “I think there might be some misconception out there that, well if (we) spend $1.6 million , why don’t we fix up the streets in Newton that desperately need that, but knowing that there isn’t the participation that the federal government (supplies funding to) Newton (it can be a problem).”

The council passed an ordinance restricting parking along West 19th Street South. The Traffic Safety Committee reviewed the property and recommended parking be restricted on both sides of the street. City staff mailed notifications to property owners and  Newton Police Chief Jeff Hoebelheinrich said they only received one letter from a affected property owner who was in full-support of it.

Bridge Replacement

The council passed a resolution to enter into an agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation with regard to a bridge replacement project located at South 12th Avenue West.

The Community Investment Plan identified the bridge as “needing to be replaced.” The city will pay $40,000, and the majority of the cost is covered by a $160,000 federal grant. But in order to receive federal funding, the city had to submit an Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan for city-owned facilities, which also passed.

The act requires all city-owned properties to provide handicapped items such as handicapped parking.

Airport upgrades

The Newton Municipal Airport will receive several upgrades following Monday night’s meeting. One upgrade was to the airport’s taxiway. There was a section of the airport’s taxiway that was not well lit, and posed a danger. The project is estimated to cost $25,000, with the city paying $3,750.

In addition to the lights project, the airport was approved for a drainage study to analyze the change in runoff and stormwater detention. The project is expected to cost $15,000, with the city paying $2,250.

Pipe replacement

The residents living near the intersection of West Fourth Street South and South 20th Avenue West will soon notice a lack of odor in the air, as the council passed a force main extension project. A new airtight pipe system will be installed, reducing the smell.

Skiff Medical Center

The council passed a resolution allowing Skiff Medical Center to place banner brackets downtown from May 12-18 to celebrate “Hospital Week.”

Fire Department

The council agreed to purchase a new $5,180 intercom system for the Newton Fire Department. The current intercom system dates back to the 1980s.

The council also held a closed session to discuss the collective bargaining agreements with maintenance employees and the Newton Association of Professional Firefighters.

City Improvement

The council passed a resolution to set a public hearing for matters regarding the demolition of a property located at 1011 E. Ninth St. N. and 216 1/2 N. Ninth Ave. W.

The building falls under the “1997 Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings,” which gives the city the authority to demolish it.

Comprehensive Plan

The board also heard from Director of Planning & Zoning Erin Chambers about the possibility of introducing a citizen’s committee to better provide input to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at mshepard@newtondailynews.com.