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Johnson County governments meet to discuss various items

BY BILL COONEY | JULY 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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Solar power, community IDs, and plans for North Dubuque St. were the topics of discussion at Monday’s joint Johnson County meeting, and officials said while the community-ID program was going well, they expressed some concern about the development of North Dubuque Street.

Johnson County joint meetings are held by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and include the cities of Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin, Swisher, Hills, the Iowa City School District, and the Clear Creek/Amana School District.

County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said construction on North Dubuque Street. should be addressed sooner rather then later, especially because the new Liberty High School will be built on the road.

“There needs to be some kind of conversation to start thinking about this route,” Neuzil said. “This is going to be a pretty significant arterial route, particularly for young people, to get from North Liberty to Iowa City.”

County Supervisor Mike Carberry agreed, saying he had heard public concerns about the road.

“I’ve had lots of phone calls from people now, complaining about how difficult it can be to get into Iowa City,” Carberry said. “This isn’t a can we can kick down the road; we need to work on this now.”

Iowa City City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said alternatives to motor transportation would need to be considered in any new design for the street.

“It’s important to think about alternatives to motor transportation,” he said. “If you change patterns and devise alternative transportation systems, you don’t face the problem of having to build more in the future.”

Neuzil said the county currently has no plans to change Dubuque Street Northeast.

“The Board of Supervisors doesn’t like to invest a lot of money on roads that are going to be incorporated into a city,” he said. “Currently, the road is going to be like it is with a new high school on it.”

Neuzil said future plans for the road would rely on the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County.

Kent Ralston, the executive director of the organization, said the it was there to help.

“We’re available to everyone here,” Ralston said. “All of the cities pay into [the group], so our services are available to everyone in the county.”

Solar power was also a topic of discussion, as Johnson County recently installed solar panels at the new fleet management and repair facility.

Becky Soglin, Johnson County sustainability specialist, said the power-purchase agreement with Moxie Solar would save the county money in the coming years.

“With the [agreement], the company providing the solar system claims the tax credits, then passes the savings onto the local government,” Soglin said. “After 10 years, the system becomes Johnson County’s, and then we will see utilities cost drop.”

Carberry said the county plans to implement more solar-power systems in the year to come.

“With the federal tax credits for renewable energy ending next year, we want to try to maximize on this while we can,” he said.

Neuzil said the county should be a leader in sustainability in the region.

“This is Johnson County; if there’s anywhere in the Midwest that should be leading the way in sustainability, it should be us,” Neuzil said.

County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said the county’s community-ID program, which started last week, was going as planned.

“We just passed 200 people; I predict we’ll have over 250 by the end of the day,” Sullivan said. “There are still some issues with people getting into the building from Coralville or North Liberty; that’s the area were going to focus on next.”

Throgmorton said he had gotten a community ID before the meeting, and praised the county staff in charge of the program.

“They did an excellent job; I got my ID in about 10 minutes,” he said. “There were at least 15 other people who got through the process in the time I was there; it was quick, and I would like to praise the staff for making the process run smoothly.”


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