The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday evening with all commissioners present and Mayor Bill Collins absent.

The group settled a long debate at the meeting, approving a suggested appointment by the Fire Department, removing the Interim label from Gene Atland and installing him as the fully-appointed Fire Chief.

The commission heard concerns from Richard Tesoriero, centering around a lack of control over code violations in Hiawatha. Tesoriero praised the commission for their work, as well as Code Enforcer David Wilson, and said he did not mean to complain, but questioned why many code violations in town are not promptly dealt with.

The Hiawatha homeowner shared a story about work done on his home before he moved to town and receiving a phone call about needing to clear up a code issue. He questioned where that urgency has gone and stated that he has personally seen investment opportunities passed up because of a perception that there are not a lot of rules in Hiawatha, and also suggested that the city hire help for the Code Enforcement Department. The commission thanked Tesoriero for bringing his concerns and for his desire to improve his community.

In other business:

The commission discussed zoning at a property at South Seventh Street. There was a change between the commission’s original intent and what was processed, with the property moving from A-1 to R-1, but the reason for the change is not known at this time. The commission agreed that they could potentially work toward moving the property back to A-1, but would like to hear from the property owner to get an idea of what the plans at the property are.

The group approved a request to solicit bids and bring in an engineer to begin looking at repairs on the crumbling foundation under several legs of the Iowa Street water tower. Also approved was a request to reject all bids on the airport project to allow for re-bids with concrete only and city crews completing preparation work.

The commission also approved an update to the Fire Public Information Officer job description, moving the position back under the purview of the Fire Chief.

The group also voted to accept an amendment to the School Resource Officer agreement with the Hiawatha school district, allowing for potential delays or shut down of the schools due to COVID-19 if deemed necessary.

The commission approved a new application process for demolition of non-city-owned properties, which replaces an old demolition grant that the city offered. There is a $1,000 deposit for approved projects, which will cover dump fees with the remainder being returned after the completion of the project. The group then approved applications from HFED and Gary Sinning for two properties on Oregon Street.

The commission approved the Consent Agenda, including $290.26 in utility refunds, a payment to Olsson for peak flow management program and pump station analysis in the amount of $9,325.99 and a payment to Midwest Public Risk in the amount of $94,064.36. Also approved was a payment to AHRS for $180,631.48.

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