In The News

St. Joe’s update coming Tuesday

By:  Matt Milner

OTTUMWA — Most city council meetings don’t draw large crowds, but the one next Tuesday just might.

One of the focuses for the meeting is the renovation of the old St. Joseph Hospital. Blackbird Investments announced plans to convert the facility into about 70 apartments and addressed the city last May. The council approved a tax abatement for the project last July.

But the timeline for work has fallen apart since then. Bids for the work came in well above expectations. And the work expected to begin by the end of last summer has yet to get into high gear.

Mayor Tom Lazio met with officials from the company in February. At the March 1 council meeting he told the city he believes Blackbird remains committed to the work. But pressure has built on Blackbird to tell the Ottumwa community just where the project stands.

That should happen Tuesday. The council only has two items on the agenda, and the first is a presentation from Blackbird. The description is bare bones, with only a presentation and comments listed, but it should be the first details on the project Ottumwa has heard from the company itself in close to a year.

The other item on the agenda should draw interest as well. Council members are scheduled to discuss the 2016 street repair program.

Road conditions in Ottumwa are a perennial issue for residents, with complaints about rough, potholed roads a staple of the discussions.

Two major projects are slated for completion this year. Both the Iowa Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue reconstructions are in their final stages. Reconstruction projects in 2016 are expected to cost just less than $5.7 million, and those two projects alone account for more than $5 million of that figure.

The road construction projects in 2016 include:

Asphalt overlays

Chester Street between Ferry and Allison

Chester Street between Wildwood and Skyline

Greenwood Drive from 300 feet east of Wildwood to Skyline

Cass Street from Main to Second

Terrace Court from North Court to the cul-de-sac

Lamborne Street from East Court to Lincoln

Street Reconstruction

Iowa Avenue (final section)

Pennsylvania Avenue (final section)

Ferry Street from Chester to Finley

North Court Street from Maple to Albany

Hamilton Street from Osceola to the cul-de-sac

Sheridan Street from Finley to Mary

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at city hall.

Original by Ottumwa Courier.