CEDAR FALLS — City Council expressed Monday, in a 5-2 vote, that it was not ready to commit to a plan to build a “resilient community.”
Several members wanted more discussions and rather to narrow the field of action.
Councilors Kelly Dunn and Simon Harding voted in favour, one reason being that the plan would attract new business.
Three residents spoke in favor of what is called a “guideline document”, and not a document that obliges to follow all the recommendations.
But that was not the majority feeling.
“I think today’s approval and adoption could put the city on the hook for things that we’re not ready to address yet,” Councilman Dustin Ganfield said.
It was the second time that the same majority rejected the resilience plan.
A few months ago, $25,000 allocated to implement the plan in fiscal year 2023 was cut from the budget as part of a series of cuts aimed at reducing rising tax levies.
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The resilience plan was developed over a few years by volunteers, municipal officials and a consultant. It focused on three main areas: local economy and community; weather and nature; and energy and mobility.
One example, given by city planner Thomas Weintraut in a memo to council, was for more renewable energy options that help fuel job growth in the renewable energy sector.
Another involved “blue-green corridors” providing recreational opportunities and attracting talent while supporting natural habitat and reducing costs associated with traditional gray infrastructure.
A third supported mixed-use neighborhoods that provide affordable housing options with goods and services within walking or biking distance of residences, reducing reliance on the automobile.
City council approved the job classifications by a 6-1 vote. Officials hope to hire the new specialist in two to three months.
After simply “receiving and filing” the plan, advisers said they support its aim. Many were present when the near-final project was unveiled in April.
But advisors won’t want to be held accountable for what’s included in the lengthy technical paper without fully sifting through it.
Councilman Daryl Kruse likened the passage of the document to Indiana Jones’ “big giant ball” that cannot be “hijacked, stopped or changed”.
However, city administrator Ron Gaines stressed that any projects under the resilience plan would come back to council for approval before moving forward.
And Mayor Rob Green noted that much of the guidance included in the document relates to what the city is already doing.
“As I’ve learned and worked with staff, I’ve seen that adoption allows them to incorporate these options and ideas into other plans and gives them the flexibility of knowing the board wants them. just see them as options,” Harding said.
“Without us adopting it, (staff have to) wait for us to go through it and nitpick it when setting goals. … It’s a bit more of a proactive approach,” he added.
Councilman Susan deBuhr said she feels more discussion is needed with other agencies referenced in the plan — Cedar Falls Community School District, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls Utilities and Black Hawk County.
No public objection to the proposed change was raised by any of the seven elected members at the committee’s meeting on Monday evening.
“Having your vote of approval shows us that you take this seriously, that these are things you want to work toward,” said Hannah Crisman, College Hill Partnership president and planning and zoning commissioner.
Council had adopted the updated cycle network plan last month with few objections.
It followed a similar process, particularly in its involvement of the public and city staff. In the recent past, some counselors have been publicly criticized for not respecting their time and work.