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

Get ready for more poster boards: City Hall set to launch a public-input process on energy in the midst of one on key, flood-damaged buildings

In City Hall on July 7, 2009 at 8:56 am

Put July 23 on your calendar.

City Hall is starting another public participation process — no doubt, with the room filled with poster boards, city staff and a sprinkling of consultants.

The latest push is gain public input on a City Hall energy policy.

This comes even as City Hall is already in the midst of a second public participation process related to the city’s key, flood-damaged buildings, which include the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall, the downtown library, the bus depot and the old federal courthouse. The next open house related to facilities is Aug. 18.
On the energy front, the city wants the public’s help on three tasks: to devise a city energy management plan; to implement a plan to turn biomass waste like sewage sludge and municipal garbage into energy; and to adopt an approach to incorporate LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards into the city’s building practices.

In a presentation to the City Council last week, Pat Ball, the city’s utilities director, says the city has funding from a $1.3-million federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant plus $250,000 from the Iowa Power Fund, the latter which requires a $250,000 city match.

The city already has embarked on a waste-to-energy study, which could provide steam to parts of the downtown and/or elsewhere in the city.

Ball said the time is perfect for such study.

The city not only needs to replace its incinerator at the city’s Water Pollution Control facility, but the federal government appears ready to implement a “cap-and-trade” system that will make alternative energy all the more attractive, Ball told the council.

Ball said, too, that Cedar Rapids and Iowa are right in the middle of the area in the country where there is plenty of biomass from agricultural production and other sources to help fuel waste-to-energy projects.

City documents note the city is getting help from three professional engineering firms: HDR, with headquarters in Omaha, Neb., and an office in Hiawatha; Foth, with headquarters in Green Bay, Wis., and an office in Cedar Rapids; and Sebesta Blomberg & Associates, with headquarters in Roseville, Minn., and an office in Cedar Rapids.

  1. When will they actually start to build something?

    How do they not think this is delay while their leaseholder payments keep accruing?

    I understand sustainibility. We had to look at that, as did every other downtown building owner.

    I understand the cost of heating and cooling a building. We had to look at that also. So did every other downtown building owner.

    So did Linn County.

    How are their downtown buildings different from any other downtown buildings?

    If I asked Councilpersons, some of them my friends, why do they choose not to answer me?

    I’m more convinced than ever, they don’t even know what City staff is up to.

    I’ll have to vote to remove some of my friends. This is no way to recover, indeed, no way to run a City.

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