The City Council meeting in Iowa City was nothing if not potentially fireworks filled last night with residents concerned about the tax referendum, farmers and other vendors, homeowners, and others crowding Emma Harvat Hall.
Residents commented on the projects associated with the local option sales tax noting the need for cooperation between governments and the University of Iowa about what to do to prevent more flooding from the Iowa River, to consult hydrology experts, and to make the process open both before and after the vote.
Vendors from the farmer's market were out in force to protest what they perceived to be a behind the scenes deal to move the market outside the Chauncey Swann parking ramp. On March 3rd, a memo was released from the City's Parks & Recreation Dept. announcing six dates that the market would be held on downtown streets which, according to City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes was picked up by one of her legal staff who noted that the city ordinance for use of public streets would need to be modified. Wording was suggested and placed on the council agenda.
City Manager, Michael Lombardo, who had been meeting with a group that intended to meet with the vendors on April 9th and was on vacation when the item was placed on the agenda, was taken by surprise to discover this had been done. The City Council, after hearing the explanations from staff quickly voted down the proposed ordinance and encouraged the vendors to contact them about participating in the April 9th meeting.
In other actions, the council voted to hold off on voting for a proposed development project on Rohret Rd. pending discussions with the Planning and Zoning Commission due to an organized effort of neighbors who believe that building as close to a wetlands area on the property in question will cause harm, in addition to leveling trees to make way for a relocation of Rohret Rd. The Council also voted 5-2 to reconsider their vote on an $80,000 public arts project they had previous approved, and therefore are contractually liable, and left it up to the City Attorney to meet with the artist to work through the legalities. They also agreed to broadcast meetings discussing city priorities for future budget funding.