Corey Broderson of JEO engineering joined Jamy Prokopec and Carolyn Gigstad of the Aqua Center Bathhouse Committee for a Syracuse City Council meeting presentation to update the members of the council on the bathhouse planning study and cost estimate for the basic needs of a new facility.
Total cost for the bathhouse was estimated to be $615,377, a number that caused a bit of sticker shock for members of the council and the mayor.
The presenters indicated that they had put a lot of work into making the facility only the size and with only the amenities which were absolutely necessary. Codes and regulations for the facility make certain features a requirement and thus affect  the size.
Gigstad explained that a priority for the group was to include a bathroom and a changing area that could be accessed directly from the pool deck without having to go into the locker room areas inside the building.
The changing area would be designated for those patrons with special needs. By having that changing area, instead of just one bathroom that could be used as a changing area, the planners said the bathroom would not be tied up and indicated that handicapped persons would need more time to change clothing.
The bathroom directly accessed by the pool was a feature desired by patrons who felt more comfortable with sending their children to use the facility there as opposed to sending them off the pool deck area and out of their sight.
Mayor Tomas “Kc” Ortiz said he was not displeased with the work that was done by the Aqua Center Bathhouse Committee, but said he was disappointed in the price.
“This is pretty basic, but what you have to understand is that the cost is not basic,” said Mayor Ortiz.
Gigstad said she felt there were grants available for match and said she felt confident that money would be raised to pair with city funds already available for the project.
Looking at the specifics of the plan, one line up came up for particular discussion, that being paving work with an associated cost of over $100,000. The presenters said that part of the paving money was to create handicap accessible stalls in the parking lot.
Council member Laramie Werner questioned whether it was necessary to pave an area on the plans that was indicated to be a proposed eating area. The presenters agreed that said area would not necessarily need to be paved and said some paving cost might be eliminated.
Another option for eliminating cost was proposed to be changing the style of building from a concrete block structure to a metal structure. Broderson advised that cost savings might be offset by the resulting structure being less durable than one made from concrete block.
Council member Jerry Werner indicated that he would not be in favor of changing the plan to allow for a metal structure.
After some significant discussion, Mayor Ortiz said he felt that council members should take the cost and information provided by the committee and mull their next move with more discussion to take place at the next regular meeting of the council in July.

Otoe County Sheriff Colin Caudill and City Attorney Jerry Stilmock were tasked by members of the city council with the job of filling in amounts for a waiverable fine schedule for violations of city ordinances that represent infractions not covered by the state of Nebraska.
Having the waiverable fine schedule will allow violators traveling through the area with a way to answer citations issued for violations committed in the area without the need to come back for a court date.

Sheriff Caudill said he would work with Sue Antes of the Syracuse Library to come up with a plan for a safe drop off and pick up area that will eliminate confusion and the potential for pedestrian versus vehicle injury for patrons attending the summer programs at the library.

The City Council heard reports from Bruce Neeman in regard to three nuisance properties which the city has been working to resolve with property owners and tennants. Neeman reported some progress on the nuisance issues, but also told of set backs on the properties. Carolyn Gigstad of the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce said the city wide clean up effort has been used to assist with nuisance property issues in the past and said that the properties in question have ended up in the same nuisance state a year after the fact.
Mayor Ortiz said the nuisance property issue is one that the city has tried to solve using less punitive means and went on to say that he feels harder measures might be required to bring resolution to the problem.
“I am at the point where I am tired of dealing with nuisance properties,” he said. “It’s not fair to the people who live here who are doing what they are supposed to do.
“Some of the houses, it’s the wild wild west. They are doing whatever they want to do and it’s a violation of city ordinance,” he said.
After hearing detailed reports on each of the three properties, the council members directed Neeman to continue working with one property owner that seemed to be making progress on cleaning up the property. The city then moved to take legal action against two other property owners by filing suit against the owner as well as a tennant who might be living at that address.
City Attorney Stilmock said on minor issues with properties, such as mowing, he felt that city employees could go onto the property and correct the problem and then have the council vote to assess the cost of said work against the property. When more extensive work is required, however, Stilmock said he felt it to be in the best interest of the city to have an order from a judge directing what action should be taken.
Going forward, Mayor Ortiz said he would like to have rules for nuisance properties that could be uniformally applied and directed Stilmock to begin the process of developing said document.

The city council discussed Park Hill Cemetery board issues. The group is still seeking a leader. Clerk Kelly Farmer asked if it would be possible to draw up a document that would give interested citizens an idea of what obligations are required for that position. City Attorney Stilmock said he would be amenable to writing a description for the position.
As for issues around the cemetery, it was reported that there were some weed issues on the roads, a couple of trees needed to be removed and another tree is blocking a sign. Overall, the reports about the cemetery were positive and Mayor Ortiz complemented the city crew for taking the time to power wash stones at the Veterans Memorial area of the cemetery.

City council members approved a fee structure for vendors at the Syracuse Ball Complex. According to the structure, vendors would pay $15 per day for utility usage and would pay the city 10 percent of gross sales per day. The provision would assure that vendors would not negatively affect the concession sales by requiring that they sell things not already available at the concession.
Mayor Ortiz said it was important to establish rules that were fair, firm and consistent in regard to vendor sales. Ortiz said the idea of adding vendors to the site would be to create a “wow” factor for guests visiting the complex for games and tournaments, including the upcoming Legion Seniors state baseball tournament later this summer.
“We are trying to take our sports complex to the next level,” Ortiz said.

Parks and Recreation Director Jill Crook said progress is being made in building bleachers that the city purchased to replace bleachers that it had been sharing with the Otoe County Fair. Due to the expansion of the bull riding event at the fair, the bleachers were going to be required to be over at that site during times that conflict with ball complex usage. The city agreed to pay for bleachers to alleviate that issue. Originally, the city purchased four bleachers but found that the actual cost, with the addition of delivery fee, was more than what the city approved. Crook said she sought direction from the mayor who advised her to buy three bleachers and not spend more money that what the city had approved. The three bleachers, Crook said, will still fill the needs at the complex.

A vote by the council members approved contract terms for maintenance of the city lawn and leaf disposal area. Under the terms of the contract, the winning bidder for the service, Derek Harms, will agree to be paid $9,300 in two installments, The first installment would be delivered after 45 days provided that the lawn and leaf pile had been cleaned up at that time. A second payment would be made between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15, provided the pile was cleaned up at that time. All judgments of clean up would be made by the city and the mayor’s approval would be required for the release of funds. It was acknowledged that the clean up process before the second fund disbursement could be complicated by weather. The city also included language that indicated that the city could contact Harms with notice that the lawn and leaf pile needed to be removed due to extensive build up any time during the contract period.

City council members voted to provide a counter offer of $4,000 on the potential sale of city property at 324 6th Street. The lot for sale is just over 1,000 square feet and would provide a home builder with between 800 and 1,000 square feet of livable space in a single story dwelling. It would be possible to make the structure a two-story building with a basement and thus add to the total living space. City code restrictions would not allow for a garage on the site and the buyer of the property would be responsible for an estimated $3,500 in cement work. The original offer submitted to the city was $500. The lowest counter offer by the city was $1,000 and the highest was $5,000.