No decision on Bunker Mill Bridge
WASHINGTON (GTNS) – Extra chairs were needed Tuesday at the Washington County Board of Supervisors weekly meeting.
Members of the Friends of Bunker Mill Bridge, Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh and Julie Bowers of the North Skunk River Greenbelt Association were present to speak to the board about saving the Bunker Mill Bridge that was destroyed by fire Aug. 11. Twenty-nine people were in the audience.
Schlabaugh told the board that the public meeting held in Kalona last week about the bridge drew support from the 100 people who attended. He introduced Raymond Tinnian, president of the Friends of the Bunker Mill Bridge, who read a prepared statement to the board. The statement asked that the board cease plans to demolish the bridge and to sell it to the Friends group. Once repaired, the bridge would be open to public non-motor vehicular use. He didn’t offer a price for the bridge.
Bowers then spoke to the supervisors. She has worked to save other old bridges in Iowa. She said the Friends group would like to lease the land and purchase the bridge. She also said the group would take on full liability of the bridge through True North Companies in Cedar Rapids.
When asked for a show of support for the Friends group, supervisor Jack Seward said that he was against signing any documents until county attorney Larry Brock, county engineer Jacob Thorius and county conservation director Steve Anderson talked about what to do with the bridge. He also said that he had talked with Washington County Conservation Board members individually what their opinion is being responsible for the bridge, and they are not ready for that.
Seward also told the group the county doesn’t own the land the bridge sits on. The county has an easement with the adjoining landowners.
The project is not popular to property taxpayers outside of the Kalona-Richmond area, Seward said. There is opposition to spending taxpayers’ money on the bridge.
Tinnian did ask the county to pay the expenses of removing the planks.
Bowers pushed for a meeting with county officials later in the week, but officials wanted more time to consider the bridge.
The bridge will be on Tuesday’s board agenda.
In other business, the board approved the third reading of the floodplain management ordinance. It will take effect on Sept. 27, along with the ordinance to rescind zoning.
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar came to the board to ask for a credit card to be used by chief deputy Jared Schneider and deputy Tim Smit for equipment purchases, and he got board approval. However, he said that he doesn’t understand why it is a board issue.
Budget director Cyndie Sinn said that a previous county auditor was the only county official who had a credit card.
Dunbar said that most of the other county sheriffs and chief deputies he knew have their own credit cards.
During the time for comments from the audience, Kay Ciha asked about the investigation into the fire on Bunker Mill Bridge.
Dunbar said that the state fire marshal has gathered all the evidence available.