A tall grass initiative sparked debate among the Ralston City Council at its Oct. 15 meeting.
Mayor Don Groesser cut down a grant that would have allowed the planting of native grass and wildflowers in select areas of Ralston Parks. The council voted 3-3 with Groesser breaking the stalemate by voting against the approval of the grant.
“The number of complaints I have received are huge,” Groesser said. “I just like seeing the parks look nice.”
The grant would have helped further along the city’s efforts in its tall grass program.
Ponderosa Park, Pierson Field and Wildewood Park were highlighted as areas that would be affected by the grant.
The city was awarded the $1,500 grant with $300 of the funds to be used for signage for the parks to inform the community of the tall grass initiative. As part of the grant, the city would need to match the $1,500.
Council member Ben Preis said he was not in favor of the tall grass program, saying wildflowers that have been planted in several areas have not successfully grown.
“I don’t see it as being a success,” he said. “I see more complaints and $1,500 out of our pockets.”
Councilman Lee Fideline said he, too, has also been getting complaints about the tall grass in the parks.
“People think we abandoned the city already,” Fideline said.
“Then I look at the aspect of when that grass dries, it’s a good thing the fire department still has a four wheel drive to put out the fires.”
Zachary Perkins, a member of the city’s Park and Tree Commission, said he thought the benefits outweighed the negatives.
He said while the city is focusing on urban development it is important to balance that with the development of parks.
“I believe for us, it would beautify the town,” Perkins said.
Even though the Greener Towns Grant was denied, the fate of the tall grass program will be discussed at the next council meeting.
Public Works Director Dan Freshman said the city or a subcontractor would start mowing the grass, depending on the council’s final decision, either late this fall if the grass dried out enough or early this spring.
In other action the city discussed and voted on the following:
• Discussed a new draft of an ordinance to correct an error with a previous ordinance dealing with cars parked illegally on private property.
The error was dealt with the ordinance requiring a notice of violation for cars parked on grass.
With the new ordinance this notice is no longer required and the police can issue a ticket on the spot.
The council will vote on the measure in a upcoming meeting.
• Held a public hearing on the One and Six Year Street Improvement Plan.
In the first year there is one project dealing with the bridge on 84th Street, with one payment of $400,000 remaining.
Over the next six years there are several concrete removals and replacements throughout Ralston.
On 75th Street from Burlington Street to Main Street there will be a complete replacement and widening of the section.
Also included in the six year time frame is the addition of a traffic signal placed on the 72nd and Burlington Street intersection.
• The council voted 6-0 in favor of a resolution that pledges the city will follow certain state requirements relative to how it spends and accounts for state funding for streets.
• Held the second reading of an ordinance regarding the council’s decision to assume ownership of a vacant lot at 78th Street and Heritage Circle.
The council intends to give the property to the adjacent property owner so the property owner can maintain the grounds.
The council voted 6-0 on the second reading and waived the third reading to approve the property transfer.
• Voted 6-0 on an amendment to an agreement with HDR Engineering, Inc. for the conceptual design for the five point intersection plaza at the intersection of 77th and Main Streets.
The next regular council meeting will be Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Ralston City Hall.