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Hawkeye Community College to build houses on Williston Field

posted on Thursday, July 14, 2022 in  College News

WATERLOO — Five new houses may be coming to Williston Field after years of attempts to build at the former Waterloo Community Schools’ property.

In 2011, the city accepted the title to the acre of open space at West Seventh Street and Williston Avenue from the school district for $1. In 2014, an agreement with a developer was stopped short after the city rejected a deed change to allow for construction of ranch houses rather than 1 1/2-story dwellings.

This time, the single-story houses will be built by students at Hawkeye Community College. A proposal for a site plan amendment to the Planned Residence District came to the Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission Tuesday.

City officials said new homes should match the current neighborhood aesthetics, so they will be designed with taller roofs and dormer windows to appear as 1 1/2-story buildings, similar to nearby houses.

When it was owned by Waterloo Schools, the field served as a parking lot for Sloan-Wallace Stadium and a practice field for West Middle School, both of which are no longer standing. It was also used as an ice skating rink in the winter.

Students in previous classes at Hawkeye built three houses on Newell Street and one on Johnson Street. These will be different from those four houses in that the new additions will be net-zero homes, meaning solar panels will produce as much energy as the family uses. As a result, the residents will have no utility bills.

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Craig Clark, the sustainable construction and design instructor at Hawkeye, said a house would be built in two years – which is how long it takes the students to go through the program.

He said the students start the first week after their Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety assessment. Clark expects the houses to be sold by the time each group graduates. He said there are usually 20 first-year and 20 second-year students annually.

The houses weren’t the problem at Tuesday’s commission meeting, though – it was the discussion of a detention pond and a possible homeowners association.

The plan shows a detention basin parallel to Allen Street. It would be 400 feet long, 18 inches deep and hold water for a 24- to 48-hour period then drain out. The proposed idea is to have a $1 fee per year for residents to make a legal document and meet as a homeowners association, Clark said. Each individual homeowner would also mow their own section surrounding the basin.

Commission member Ali Parrish says the dollar collection and formation of an HOA is “unnecessary” because the description of the upkeep for the basin isn’t what is normally in HOAs, saying there is no ongoing maintenance expense.

City engineer Jamie Knutson said an HOA is the best way to go, but it doesn’t have to be the case.

“As a city, we have to have a primary point of contact for these folks putting water into the basin,” Knutson said. “It can be any sort of legal document but all the folks have to be on the hook for any future maintenance cost.”

Parrish responded by saying she struggles with the idea of the homeowners association.

“You’re throwing a dart at a moving target,” Parrish said. “The owner today may not be the owner when maintenance is needed, so will someone need to maintain a checking account? It sounds like a lot of work for five people.”

She suggested that the city do a special assessment. The city wouldn’t want to do that, Knutson responded, reiterating that the legal document doesn’t have to be an HOA. However, that allows homeowners to put away an amount of money each year rather than paying a big out-of-pocket cost all at once.

Knutson also stated the homeowners association doesn’t have to charge a fee.

The proposal was approved by the commission and Knutson said Hawkeye will be in charge of crafting a legal document.

Commission member Cody Leistikow said he lives close to the area and remembers heavy rainfall turning the area into a flood zone. He noted his excitement with the idea of the detention basin to help the entire community in the area.

Ralph Longus, an instructor at Hawkeye and Clarksville Community Schools, added that the addition itself will be great for the community.

“This will be great for our neck of the woods and bring new families into our area,” Longus said. “I’m excited it’s happening in the middle of Waterloo and not on the edges.”

By Andrew Wind, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Tags

  1. Sustainable Construction and Design
  2. Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier
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