C Street vote delayed by an Iowa Code

by Alex McCarty & Chelsea Winegard

The Indianola City Council has postponed the vote on Simpson’s C Street proposal due to a last minute mention of an Iowa Code.

The Indianola City Council met for a study session on Monday, March 12 where it planned to discuss Simpson College’s proposal to close C Street.

“What they do in study session is just a conversation between all of them where they talk about things and no action can be taken, no votes be made, no motions can made; it’s just more of a discussion,” said Jill Johnson, executive director of marketing and public relations.

Due to the unexpected mentioning of the Iowa Code at the study session, a new issue needs to be addressed before the potential closing of C Street can occur.

“Unfortunately, they never got very far because someone brought up that there is some section of Iowa Code that may prevent a city from closing a street,” Johnson said. “It was sort of an obscure reference that came up sort of at the last minute.”

Johnson said only two of the council members had access to the code and none of the others members had heard of it before, so the council needed outside interpretation.

“I think the next step is that they are going to ask their attorneys and probably Simpson will ask their attorneys to interpret what that code means,” Johnson said. “And if it truly does mean that there is some obstacle that would prevent a city council from taking an action to close the street.”

The city council will now have some time to discuss the code due to the canceling of the March 19 meeting because Indianola schools are on spring break. The next meeting will not be held until March 26.

Johnson said she doesn’t think the proposal is a dead issue, but isn’t sure where it will go from here.

“I really don’t know what will happen, but I know there is one thing that both sides can agree on: is that it is a terrible street,” Johnson said. “The street is in terrible condition and it needs to be fixed.”

Indianola’s one way streets also affect the problems Simpson faces with C Street and the city council’s decision.

“Years and years ago probably in the 70’s, Highway 65/69 was widened to four lanes and while they were doing that they had to reroute traffic through town,” Johnson said. “So they rerouted the traffic that was coming down Highway 65/69 on Buxton and Howard. And that’s why they changed them to one ways so the traffic flow would be easier. When the road was completed, they just never switched them back.”

Research has shown that the one way streets in town could be changed back to two way streets.

“The city’s engineers have said that a city Indianola’s size does not necessarily support one way streets,” Johnson said. “I mean if you think about rerouted 65/69 you can see that that’s a lot of traffic and it made sense, but just an everyday traffic patterns; they’ve said that there’s really no reason that they have to be one ways.”

Regardless of whether or not the proposal goes through the potential closing of C Street will be a lengthy process, Johnson said.

“To get passed, it has to go through three public hearings so three sessions of council where they can vote,” Johnson said. “So there is a six week time frame in there from whenever they make the motion to close it (and) they have to keep voting on it three times to make sure that it’s passed.”

Johnson said she is upset with the lack of progress the proposal has made.

“I think that’s one thing that everyone agrees on and it’s a little frustrating to not be able to at least be making some steps toward what could be improvement for everybody at this point,” Johnson said.

Joe Sorenson, senior and student body president, said he has attended a lot of the city council meetings and thinks that something needs to be done with C Street.

“I definitely see C Street as kind of an eyesore on campus so anything we can do to develop it or bring the East side and West side of campus together again,” Sorenson said.

Johnson has experienced the poor conditions of C Street first hand.

“I personally would love to see the street close, but more importantly I would love to see the street improved somehow because it’s just terrible to drive on,” Johnson said. “I drive on it every day and I know how terrible it is.”

Nicolle Whalen, assistant professor of sport sciences and resident of Indianola also believes C Street should be closed.

“I think it would look pretty,” Whalen said. “I think it would look more cohesive. And we would have a better campus environment. It really would help unify everything and would really just have a good central spot to campus.”