Oskaloosa councilman serious about clean up
by Dennis Sharkey
City Councilman John Norman is serious about cleaning up the city.
Since being appointed to the city health board last month Norman has been busy driving the streets of Oskaloosa taking pictures and documenting reports of properties not in compliance with city code.
Last month Mayor Mike Boyd and Councilman Jim Faris got in a somewhat heated discussion about the lack of enforcement from the city.
Last month Norman sent out 17 letters to residents about weed and grass control. Residents have 15 days after the letter is mailed to comply, otherwise the city will mow the property and assess a $500 fine.
Norman said at the city’s meeting earlier this month that he is ready to get people moving.
“If it doesn’t happen we’re going to go mow them,” Norman said. “We’re not going to tally around with these issues.”
Norman while speaking held a stack of about 20 letters that were to be sent out last week about properties that need to be cleaned up. He also said that inoperable vehicles will be next.
Norman said he realizes that the last time the city attempted a cleanup some residents expressed that they were being “picked on.” Norman drafted a letter that will accompany each compliance letter.
“Citizens of the city are demanding compliance with issues of unkempt properties,” he read from the letter. “The intent is to make Oskaloosa safe, healthy and an attractive community to live work and play.”
Norman said many of the citizens he has spoken with are demanding the compliance because they are tired of their property values being negatively affected by their neighbors.
Norman said he also will seek action on dangerous buildings and specifically in the trailer court.
Norman thinks the city could also do a better job of helping citizens keep properties clean.
He pointed to the 13 acres of land that were purchased in 2009 and how it’s not being utilized for brush dumping and burning. Having a policy of calling the city during business hours to unlock the gate doesn’t work for most citizens.
“We have to understand that Oskaloosa is a working community,” Norman said. “People leave at seven o’clock in the morning and they return at five o’clock at night. Those folks aren’t here when they are here.
“You drive around and you’d be surprised at how many piles of limbs are stacked up against garages or in yards,” he added.
The council discussed having a city employee staff the brush dump for at least a couple of hours on Saturdays. They also discussed having it open at special times after storms.
City Superintendent Bill Heard said he would like to see a city policy that allowes residents to stack brush at the street and the city will pick up the brush on a designated day each month.
• The city is still seeking residents to serve on the city planning and zoning board. Currently there are two vacancies and possibly a third.
City Treasurer Polly McInroy said she is receiving no interest from anyone.
• The city successfully sold a generator and a trench compactor on E-Bay. The city received $757 for the generator and $155 for the compactor.
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