The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Archive for May 26th, 2009|Daily archive page

Steam committee suggests splitting $21 million this way: $8 million for five of eight big users; $8 million for little users; and $5 million to lower bills

In City Hall, Floods on May 26, 2009 at 6:36 pm

The City Council this week will decide how it wants to dispense $21 million in federal and state dollars to help users of the downtown steam system convert to their own replacement systems.

A city review team — which includes city staff members, downtown business representatives, state leaders and large and small steam customers — is proposing a reimbursement program that devotes $8 million of the $21 million in aid for large customers, $8 million for smaller customers and $5 million to help “buy down” the cost of higher steam bills.

Of the $5 million, 70 percent will go to big users, though they represented 86 percent of overall steam usage from Alliant Energy’s flood-wrecked Sixth Street Generating Station, according to a memo to the City Council.

The plant, which had provided cheap steam for eight large customers and about 200 smaller ones, won’t be rebuilt because of cost. One plan to try to find federal and state money to rebuild the plant as it was — as a coal plant — was nixed by the City Council as spending too much public money on an old plant and an old technology.

According to this week’s council memo, the assumption is that a portion of the $8 million designated for the large customers — the Quaker and Cargill plants next to downtown are among the eight — won’t go to customers Coe College and the two hospitals because it is anticipated they will receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

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City hires OPN Architects for $400,000 to help with open houses to determine future of flood-damaged city buildings; county, schools dropped out of process

In City Hall, Floods on May 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm

The much-anticipated series of public open houses will start June 23 to help the city determine the future of flood-damaged city buildings.
And Wednesday evening, the City Council hired OPN Architects Inc. of Cedar Rapids for $400,000 to help lead the several-month process.

OPN not only will help conduct the public open houses, but the firm also will provide design and planning options and an analysis of the costs involved in renovating buildings or building new ones.

OPN’s contract runs from May 28 through Oct. 31 and may be renewed in 60-day increments.

Among the key flood-damaged buildings under discussion will be the library, the Paramount Theatre, the Ground Transportation Center bus depot, the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall, the Public Works Building and the existing federal courthouse, which the city is scheduled to assume ownership of once the new federal courthouse opens in the fall of 2012.

Sufficient damage was done to the library that it will be rebuilt not renovated, and the city’s library board already has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to allow the city to rebuild the library on a different site.

The council also will be interested in hearing about proposals to build a new City Hall, called a community services center, a new Public Safety Training Center and a new community operations center, which would house city departments like fleet maintenance, streets and solid waste.

Only city government is left to participate in the lengthy process to get public input on facilities.

Some months ago, both Linn County government and the Cedar Rapids school district were involved in the facilities process when the idea was that the differing jurisdictions might “co-locate” in a shared facility.
The county dropped out a few months ago, saying they wanted to move faster than the city. The school district dropped out this month.