Metro briefs

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Council OKs new UISG liaison

A new University of Iowa Student Government liaison will attend Iowa City City Council meetings.

The council approved the appointment of UI junior Evan McCarthy as the UISG student liaison with a 7-0 vote on Tuesday. McCarthy will replace the current liaison, Alec Bremer.

McCarthy will serve for the 2014-15 academic year.

City inks design contract for downtown

Iowa City is moving forward with downtown improvements.

The City Council approved a design contract with Genus Landscape Architects for the downtown streetscape plan with a 7-0 vote on Tuesday.

The plan aims to improve downtown. While the plan is mostly a guide for future decisions, it also includes several “quick-start” projects to be acted on in the coming year. These include improvements to the Pedestrian Mall and Black Hawk Mini Park.

The contract with Genus, totaling $247,250, covers schematic design services for Washington Street (Clinton Street to Linn Street), Dubuque Street (Iowa Avenue to the Pedestrian Mall), the Pedestrian Mall, and Black Hawk Mini Park.

City staff members expect a second contract to be developed for detailed design of the Ped Mall and Black Hawk Mini Park projects.

City moves on Riverfront Crossing

City officials are moving ahead with a plan for the Riverfront Crossing District.

The City Council deferred first consideration of the Riverfront Crossings form-based code and decided to continue a public hearing concerning the code on a 7-0 vote on Tuesday.

The public hearing will be continued at the council’s May 6 meeting.

The code contains various requirements for the zone, including distance of buildings from the street, maximum and minimum number of stories, required amount of frontage facing the road, and parking requirements.

Several goals will be achieved, including making parking consistent throughout the city, fostering development in Riverfront Crossings, and allowing fraternities and dormitories to be built in the district with special exceptions

— by Daniel Seidl

UI to name new residence hall

The new University of Iowa dormitory could be named the Mary Louise Petersen Residence Hall pending a vote by the state Board of Regents.

In addition, the new residential learning commons could be named after Theodore M. “Ted” Rehder.
The regents will vote on both the proposals at their April meeting.

Petersen graduated from the UI College of Education in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in science education. She was appointed to the regents in 1969.

Petersen served as the regent president from 1973 to 1981.  She also served as a member of the UI Foundation Board of Directors from 1991 to 2006. 

Redher was the first director of Dormitories and Dining at the University of Iowa, a position he held for 30 years until he retired in 1976.

He graduated from the UI in 1935 and was named associate director of the IMU.

During his time at the UI, the university added five new residence halls — Daum, Burge, Stanley, Rienow, and Slater.

A lounge in the Quad is currently after Redher, but with the impending demolition of the Quad, university officials hope to continue memorializing his service to the university by naming the learning commons after him.

The new dorm will house 501 students and will include a student dining sports grill.

Officials expect it to be completed by May 2015.

— by Ian Murphy

UIHC seeks rate increase

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Board of Trustees has requested a 6 percent rate increase effective July 1.

The state Board of Regents will vote on the request next week.

Competitive rates with respect to other university health systems and the limits on charge increase in contracts are the determining factors in rate increase.

The UIHC system charges are in 30th percentile of University Health System Consortium, relatively low compared with members of the consortium.

The consortium includes 120 academic institutions and 302 affiliated hospitals.

There are also contract stipulations that limit annual increase to no more than six percent.

— by Ian Murphy

UI seeks capital improvements

UI officials would like the regents to authorize a list of capital improvements.

If approved, the proposals authorize the UI to proceed with planning for the Power Plant air-regulation-compliance project. The estimated cost is $9 million.

The project will update the plant to meet the new federal emissions requirements for the steam generating boilers at the Power Plant. The regulations require compliance by January 2016.

The UI Hospitals and Clinics is asking for approval of the design and budget for the pediatric cardiac catheterization relocation and expansion, as well as the level five and six Pappajohn Pavilion Connector to the UI Children’s Hospital. 

In addition to those updates, the university is requesting approval for the design and budget for the UIHC Centralized Emergency Power Generation Facility Project.

This would provide an emergency power service to the main UIHC campus.

Officials expect these projects to cost approximately $34.3 million.

The university is also seeking approval for upgrades to the Oakdale Chilled Water Plant.  The upgrades would improve reliability of chilled water at the UI research campus by extending chilled water lines; officials expect the project to cost approximately $5.6 million.

— by Ian Murphy

UI wants to purchase pediatrician practices

UI officials are requesting regent approval to purchase three pediatrician-practice buildings.

The buildings and their adjacent parking lots, 605 E. Jefferson St. and 2591 Holiday Road, Coralville, are practice sites for Pediatric Associates of Iowa City and Coralville.

UI Health Care will purchase the clinical practices to develop the pediatric health delivery system, allowing UI Health Care to further develop the system in the area.

The physicians would continue to work at their locations under the name of Pediatric Associates of UI Children’s Hospital.

Officials expect the purchase of both the buildings and their adjacent parking lots to be a total of $4.11 million.

— by Ian Murphy

Regents to select new leaders

The regents will elect a new president next week.

The regent president and president pro tem will start their terms on May 1 and will serve for two years, according to Iowa Administrative Rules.

Regent President Bruce Rastetter’s and President Pro Tem Katie Mullholland’s terms will expire on April 30.

— by Ian Murphy

UI wants early bond refund

The UI is asking the regents to consider allowing the refund of an estimated $8.3 million in bonds that were used to purchase space in the about $13.5 million Old Capitol Town Center in 2005.
If approved, the request would be an early refund of the bonds. The proceeds of the bonds would be invested in U.S. Treasury Obligations or other permitted investments.

Interest rates on refunding the bonds are anticipated to be lower, therefore refunding the bonds early would result in an estimated saving of $374,000.

These bonds are due to be refunded June 1, 2015.

The UI will do the same for the $10.96 million IMU bonds, refunding an estimated $7.495 million in bonds. Interest rates for the bond are also anticipated to be lower, which would result in savings of $305,000.

— by Ian Murphy

Firefighters address fire in southeastern Iowa City

Firefighters from eight different departments responded to a warehouse fire at 2339 Heinz Road on Tuesday afternoon.

Officials said it is unclear what caused the fire.

The blaze broke out at around 3:30 p.m., and smoke was still coming out of the building at 5:30 p.m.

According to an Iowa City press release, the fire disrupted bus routes along the road and closed several stops including those at Heinz Road and Scott Boulevard.

The building is valued at $868,310 and is owned by Francis and Nancy Schneider of San Carlos, Calif., according to the Johnson County Assessor’s Office.  

Iowa City Fire Department officials said trucks from Iowa City, Coralville, Hills, Solon, West Branch, North Liberty, Riverside, and Lone Tree were called in to respond to the fire.

“I didn’t see much of anything,” said witness Bonnie Harding. “Just everything going up in flames.”

She said she saw smoke billowing from one of the storage bays of the building before the building went up in flames.

— by Ian Murphy

Area woman accused of driving under influence

Authorities have accused a West Liberty woman of driving under the influence.

Sarah Barten, 48, was charged Tuesday with third-offense OWI.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, officers received reports of a vehicle driving all over the road going northbound on Highway 218, and they were given the plate number and description of the vehicle.

The vehicle was later located driving eastbound on Highway, and was found stopped in the middle of the intersection of Highway 1 and the Walmart entrance, the complaint said.

Police followed the vehicle and reportedly saw it cross the centerline numerous times. After stopping the vehicle, Barten showed signs of intoxication, including slow, slurred speech, bloodshot, water eyes, and a strong odor of alcoholic beverages, the complaint said.

Barten has two OWI convictios on April 4, 2011 and Aug. 31, 2006.

Third-offense OWI is a Class-D felony.

— by Rebecca Morin

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