Reinbeck Council approves land purchase

Clears the way for fire station development

During their April 4 regular meeting, the Reinbeck City Council discussed and approved purchasing a four-acre parcel of land along the outskirts of the city’s east side that will be used for the development of a new fire station. Pictured are (from left) council members Corey Dripps, Nathan Ragsdale, Mayor Ash Larsen, Shawn Murphy, Michelle Knaack and Kyle Rasmussen. – Photo by Darvin Graham

The city of Reinbeck moved one step closer toward the development of a new fire station during the April 4 city council meeting.

Though the acquisition is not final, the council voted to approve the purchase of four acres of land along the city’s east border that is planned to be used for the construction of a new fire station in the coming years.

Last month the council heard details of a plan put together by the fire department with the assistance of Solum Lang Architects to construct a new fire station to replace the current station, which department members have said is cramped and struggles to meet the needs of the current fire service.

The plan calls for a 14,000-square-foot building with 4,000-square-feet dedicated to personnel and the remainder to equipment. The budget of around $4 million would include both project and construction costs and would require a public vote before moving forward.

On Monday the council agreed to purchase the four-acre parcel from Brad Ohrt of Ohrt Farms Inc. for $160,000.

Should the fire station project move forward, the plan would be to split the land into two lots. Two acres would be utilized for the fire station and the other two-acre lot would be aimed at future commercial development.

“In my opinion we need to do something for growth in the community,” council member Shawn Murphy said. “We’re land-locked on both ends so it makes it hard to do anything.”

Ohrt reported to the council that prior to the land changing hands that he would be responsible for paying back the Farm Service’s Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program funds that had been utilized for the ground. Ohrt also said he will pay to have the land surveyed before it is turned over to the city and that he would work with the fire department during the surveying process in order align his work with the needs of the potential station project.

Funding for the land purchase will come from a recently cashed in certificate of deposit of $100,000 the city earmarked for the fire station project, with the remaining balance likely coming from the city’s general fund.

Responding to a question from Assistant Fire Chief Jamie Eiffler about the city’s commitment to see through the intent to develop the soon-to-be acquired land for the fire station project, council member Kyle Rasmussen said he was confident about the council’s intentions toward the fire station project as something that could happen on a separate track from the commercial development next door.

“I think it’s good for the city long term that we have industrial space to continue to grow,” Rasmussen said. “Does that mean that we have to put it on the ballot this year? I don’t think that we’re not in favor of that but I’m not sure if I would tie the two 100 percent together in the sense that one project has to happen following the other.”

In the coming months the fire department plans to seek more specific cost estimates for the project with the knowledge that the city has land set aside for the project.

A formal purchase agreement is expected to be approved at the council’s next regular meeting on May 2. A vote on the funding for the fire station project could come as early as this fall.

In other business…

The council voted in favor of seeking bids for a stormwater improvement project at the Pioneer Road and Highway 175 intersection. Lindsay Beaman from Snyder & Associates updated the council on the engineering firm’s cost estimate for the project. Originally the project cost was expected to be around $560,000. Beaman’s new estimate however came in at $866,000. The council agreed to seek bids first and make a decision on the project once bids have come in.

City Administrator Julie Wilkerson reported she had only received one application for part-time summer help for the city public works department. The council approved hiring Alan Rhodes part-time for the position and in a separate motion approved seeking additional part-time help at a rate of $15 per hour.

The council discussed a nuisance abatement request being made to Amber Waltman regarding junk on her residential property at 510 Broad St. The council decided to send a letter to Waltman with a specific request of what work they would like to see done to the property to abate the nuisance and may look to target other nuisance properties on Park Street with more formal nuisance abatement measures.