The Keokuk City Council is ready to do some spring cleaning.
Susan Dunek represents the city’s 7th ward. She says the month of March is a good time to start sprucing up Keokuk’s appearance.
Dunek says a drive around the city will reveal areas the city can quickly address, such as lining up concrete strips in parking lots and straightening street signs and markers.
“I think we have just fallen out of the habit of seeing these things,” says Dunek, “and I just want people to begin to observe and make notes of things that can be done now that the weather is getting nicer that can improve the general appearance of our city.”
Dunek says this is important as there are some big events on the horizon: the annual Civil War reenactment and the statewide Main Street convention.
The Keokuk City Council discussed putting together a team for the 5th annual Earth Day Clean-Up (April 21) to show support for improving the city’s appearance.
The latest citywide clean-up will get underway on April 23. Each residential property is eligible for two free trips to the landfill.
Meanwhile, 1st Ward Alderman Mike O’Connor says Keokuk needs to grow and expand. The only options are to the north and to the west due to the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers.
He pointed to Fort Madison’s efforts to stretch its borders to include industries.
O’Connor says Keokuk could start by annexing enough land to bring the airport within city limits.
“If we did take in the airport, we would have control of what is going in around it,” says O’Connor, “and that is what got me thinking about this. We could also cross the highway and pick up (Midwest Academy) and bring it back in. I don’t think that would hurt our tax base.”
The airport and the academy are each located near Highway 61 just north of the city.
O’Connor says the city could explore exemptions for owners resistant to annexation.
He says the city should also look to establish a new industrial park. The Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority is also in the process of identifying land for a rural industrial park.
The Keokuk City Council could finalize a plan, later this month, that would clear the way for St. Louis Gear Company to relocate.
The plan calls for the reworking of two separate city ordinances.
One would reclassify tool, die, gauge and machine shops from heavy industrial use to light industrial use.
The other would rezone Faith Family Church to light industrial use so St. Louis Gear can move there.
Mayor Tom Marion says this is a better option than allowing heavy industrial use at the site along Main Street.
“St. Louis Gear Company would be fine for that area,” says Marion, “but if was zoned (heavy industrial), someone could buy it and put in something more problematic for the neighbors. We tried to keep it so they can’t expand it to anything else other than something similar to St. Louis Gear (Company).”
Several potential neighbors have objected to the rezoning of the church. They have said they do not have a problem with St. Louis Gear, but rather what could come after it.
Roquette America and Griffin Wheel are examples of heavy industries.
The Keokuk City Council must approve each ordinance two more times.