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Leaky public building brought to council’s attention

At its Monday meeting, the Newton City Council discussed the future of a Newton WaterWorks building that Councilor Dennis Julius described as an eyesore.

The building, located at 216 N. Third Ave. W., sustained damage to its roof from a severe storm on May 11. Adjoining the building is the Newton Feed Store owned by Gary Grimes.

Grimes said that the damaged roof is causing water to leak into his building. Julius said this is the first time this has been brought to the council’s attention but that he’s been aware of it for some time.

“I heard comments from somebody telling me that the roof had blown off,” Julius said. “With city council, it takes a little bit of time for some of the stuff to come to our attention or meetings so we can act on it.”

Julius said that nothing will be done between now and the next council meeting, except for the gathering of more information by the city staff.

“It sounds like the water issue is the biggest problem and if we can get that corrected then we’ll let it sit,” Julius said.

The building has some mold, mildew and rotting in some of the rafters. Keith Laube, public works director, said that the current condition of the building makes it unusable.

“Basically, it needs some repairs to it,” Laube said. “The roof has some rotting in the rafters and the sheeting.”

The council discussed the possibility of the building’s demolition and build a new building, but in the long term. The staff didn’t recommend the building’s demolition because it shares a wall with the Newton Feed Store.

Grimes said he wasn’t frustrated with the City’s inaction, and Laube said that the city will investigate the leaking into Grimes store.

“Like I said, I’ve been there 37 years and I’ve never had the problem until now,” Grimes said.

The council also unanimously approved a one-year trial with G&E Properties and Bridgehouse Coffee for the use of an alley for a drive-up window.

The alley itself will be used to manage the stack up of vehicles entering the drive-up window. Brock Patterson estimated that the window could draw in an estimated 40 to 60 customers mostly from 6 to 9 a.m. Bridgehouse Coffee used to be a pharmacy that utilized such a drive-up window procedure. The alley should allow up to four vehicles to be stacked.

“Staff evaluated the alley and recommended that drive up coffee customers be encouraged to exit the alley south to First Avenue West,” Councilor Steve Mullan said.  

Bridgehouse Coffee has agreed to place a sign directing exiting traffic to First Avenue. The staff also recommended that if such traffic endangers pedestrians, then mirrors should be placed at the end of the alleyway.

The council also discussed and approved the first reading of potential stop signs at the intersection of West Third Street North and North Second Avenue West. Two more readings will take place before the council takes official action on the matter.

Staff writer Dave Hon may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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