Street changes considered for Sioux Center

Several adjustments to city streets for safety and function were considered by the Sioux Center City Council this week, holding a public hearing for each proposed change to hear comments and questions.

The first was to vacate one block of 3rd St. SW, between Main Ave./Highway 75 and 1st Ave. SW. Bethel Christian Reformed Church requested this street closure as it lies between two church properties, and there is regular foot traffic across the street. They suggested the change will improve safety for pedestrians and shared plans to use the former street for a sidewalk, green space, and parking. After hearing from Bethel representative Howard Wilson, who spoke in favor of the change, the council approved vacating this block of 3rd St. after Highway 75 construction gets past this point.

The second proposal was to vacate 20 feet of 7th St. SE where it connects to Main Ave./Highway 75. This arose in the Highway 75 planning process as a safety measure to decrease conflict points. Currently, 7th St. SE and 7th St. SW are offset from each other across Highway 75, creating an unusual conflict point in the middle of the highway for left-turning vehicles.

“Safety has always been our top priority for the Highway 75 project, and we feel both the 3rd St. and 7th St. closures match with that priority,” City Manager Scott Wynja said.

If this change is approved, access to residences from 7th St. SE would be from 1st Ave. SE. During the public hearing, several residents who live near 7th St. SE shared concerns about the proposed change for access, parking, snow removal, bussing, and garbage collection. The council tabled the decision to give staff time to further review the concerns with engineers, the Iowa DOT, and bus and garbage contractors.

“I would prefer we don’t make a decision today until we have those final answers,” said Councilman Eric Moerman.

Thirdly, the council approved a name change for the portion of 1st Ave. SW between 16th and 19th St. SW, changing that to 2nd Ave. SW. This three-block section is aligned with other parts of 2nd Ave. SW, and the name change was proposed to avoid future conflicts and confusion and better accommodate Enhanced 911 services. City staff has reached out to businesses along this road about the proposal. The new name will not be effective until September to give those businesses time to prepare.

“While this name change does involve some adjustments, both on our end and for those businesses along this street, in the long run it will help prevent confusion for everyone from customers to delivery trucks to ambulance drivers,” said Assistant City Manager Dennis Dokter.