Keokuk Weighs Security vs. Accessibility

Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council will have to weigh security versus public accessibility as it decides whether to close a street near the riverfront.

Roquette America needs part of Mississippi Drive to be closed for its new security gate. The company says the gate is needed based on recommendations from a private firm.

The gate, though, could limit access to the flood wall. People who fish park next to the city's waste water treatment plant and walk along the flood wall to reach the Mississippi River.

Roquette America says it would consider allowing people to enter the gate to fish. They would have to check-in and show an idea before entering the gate.

Several city council members expressed concerns about the proposal. First Ward Alderman Mike O'Connor says residents should not have to show requirement to access a location open to the public while At-Large Alderman Mark Hoyt questioned why someone would have to provide identification to a private industry.

Another option discussed by the Keokuk City Council was to build a walking trail so people can avoid the gate.

Mayor Dave Gudgel says one benefit would be the city's waste water treatment plant would be secured by the gate. He says city staff will meet with representatives of Roquette America to gather more information for the Keokuk City Council.

Railroad Bridge Fees
Keokuk will delay a planned increase of the fees charged for using the city's railroad bridge across the Mississippi River. The decision comes about after Peoria-based Pioneer Railcorp claimed Keokuk does not have the authority to increase the fees.

President J. Michael Carr says, in a letter to the city, that the proposed increases are so unreasonable that they will negatively impact his business and the industries it serves. He says Keokuk Junction Railway (which is owned by Pioneer) would not accept the city's proposed labor fees and should have the ability to operate the bridge if city staff is not available.

Keokuk wants to institute a minimum monthly fee and a charge whenever a city worker has to open the bridge for Pioneer Railcorp.

Mayor Gudgel says the city wants to avoid a legal challenge so a meeting with Carr and other Pioneer representatives will soon take place.