Cleanup stopped to check on possible dynamite in demolished Kelley building
The cleanup on the corner of 901 Polk in Kelley came to a halt recently when some concern that there could possibly be dynamite located in the basement of what is left of the demolished building.
At one time the building was a hardware store, and back in the 1950s, hardware stores often sold dynamite. It was decided at the Aug. 11 Kelley City Council meeting that the cleanup be stopped until the basement of the building that came down after a heavy rain and wind months ago, could be checked out.
According to Kelley Mayor Kenny Kling, the city got in contact with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), OSHA, Homeland Security, Story County Emergency Management, the State Fire Marshall’s Office and the K9 Unit from the State Fire Marshall’s Office. After an inspection of the site with the K9 Unit, everyone involved believed that the property did not present a dynamite hazard.
Randy Kennedy is conducting the cleanup of the downed building, but is currently working on another job at the time. He is expected to be back at the Kelley site soon to complete the clean- up. Due to complications with the removal of the debris, the IDNR is allowing the city to take as much time as necessary in the cleaning up the property.
The council addressed the issue of paying for the cleanup and city staff is investigating other options for payment that would not place a burden on the taxpayers of the city.
Kelley’s city attorney, Dennis Parmenter, reported to the council that he has been in contact with the company that holds the tax certificates on this property. Parmenter told the council that he will be submitting the paperwork for the city of Kelley to take ownership of this property.
According to Parmenter, the pile of rubble must be cleaned up, and there is no one else to do that except the city.
“The former owners did not pay their taxes for three years, so the property went to tax sale,” explained Parmenter. “That cost, tens of thousands of dollars, would be taxed to the property. The out-of-state buyers at the tax sale, who were pure speculators, paid a few hundred dollars at a tax sale, and hoped to sell the property at a profit. They now have no interest in the property, so it could sit for another three years, and no one will ever buy it in the future.”
Parmenter said that the city does have a few options.
“We could let it sit vacant to go through the tax sale process again, but with a hole in the ground and a huge encumbrance (to the city), that just pushes the situation three more years down the road, and there is no realistic likelihood that the city will be in any better position, and the mess will probably get worse,” said Parmenter. “Or we can take action to make the property marketable in order to return it to the tax rolls.”
He added, “There is no down side to taking title to the property. We will be out some money, but we would have the situation under our (the city) control. Therefore, the council really only has one choice.”
The council also heard a report regarding the Kelley resident who is housing cats. It was reported that 36 cats had been removed from the location and that new homes for the remaining cats are still being sought. The council is in hopes that the cats can be relocated and asked if anyone knew of anyone that would like to have some of the cats to let them know. It was said that the cats all seem to be in good health. A City Ordinance is being developed to limit the number of cats that can be allowed on each property in the city.
Mayor Kling reported to the council that he had attended the Story County Emergency Management meeting. He said that the focus of the meeting was to make sure that each community in Story County has an action plan in case of a major disaster.
Kling also reported that he met with the city’s building inspector and the city clerk to discuss improving the building permit procedure. He said that several building permit fees involving Kelley residents have not been paid. The city clerk will send out invoices for collection.
In other business, the council:
* Heard from Story County Deputy Combs that there were no concerns regarding the city of Kelley at this time.
* Heard a brief presentation by Matt Moeller, representing Snyder Engineering, about their company. He told the council that he would forward a timeline for the possible Xenia connection project and a copy of a typical spec form for such a project. The council told Moeller that they would like to review those items before making a decision on who the engineer will be for the water connection with Xenia project.
* Heard from City Clerk Jennifer Davies that she sent a letter to the property owner of the property located at 917 Giddings, but had not received a response as of yet. Council member Fortney reported that he had been approached by the property owner with several questions. The property owner told Fortney that a quote for demolition is being obtained and that he is looking into the possibility of selling the property. The council will continue to monitor the progress on the property and will revisit the issue on a regular basis.
* The council approved a liquor license for the Cross Roads Tavern.
* Heard a recommendation from Planning and Zoning for the rezoning of 1114 Giddings, to be tabled until after Planning and Zoning Board can hold a meeting.
* Held discussion on how to transfer money from the old electric utility into a project fund for the Xenia water connection. The Story County Auditor is looking for verifiable proof that a proper vote was held when the utility was dissolved. It was reported that if that cannot be verified, that the proper information will need to be sent to the Auditor by Sept. 17, in order for it to be included on the ballot.
* Heard that the Ballard Business Alliance customer appreciation picnic will be held in Huxley on Aug. 30 at 11 a.m.
* Heard that the open council seat has been advertised and action could be taken at the next regular council meeting. It was also noted that four council seats will be open for elections in November.
* The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.