Posted on October 2, 2017 at 8:45 PM by Kevin Jenison
has been said about the word "transparency" in regards to city
government or any level of government for that matter. Some say that the City
of Muscatine needs to be more transparent with the citizens of the community. For
me, I am not sure how much more “transparent” the City of Muscatine can be.
ago I came to this community courtesy of another organization that was in dire
need of leadership and quality control. They had lost their edge in meeting the
communication needs of the citizens they served and charged me with bringing
their vision back into focus.
association did not last long for a number of reasons but I was able to accomplish
some of what I was brought in to do. When we parted ways, the organization had
a renewed emphasis on local communication sprinkled with increased
respectability and accountability to the people they serve. That organization
continues to use many of my ideas today which should do them well if they
follow the game plan.
I was with that organization I had a chance to interact with many of the
department heads and city administrator for the City of Muscatine. I tended to
ask a lot of questions, some more brilliant than others, about transparency,
Open Records, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Verification is, or
was, an important part of my previous line of work. Even when presented with
the facts and figures we wanted to dig a little deeper for verified
the trail I wanted to follow and asking the right questions proved to be a
great learning experience. I got my answers with a little leg work, a little
persistence, and it did not cost me an arm or a leg.
City of Muscatine has always been transparent. Most every piece of paper within
City Hall is available for public inspection once it has been run through the
legal gauntlet. But City staff knew that with the technology today, the City
could do more. Thus the alliance with OpenGov that was unveiled last July and brought
a whole new layer to the transparency table.
longer was it necessary for an organization to file an Open Records request,
pay a substantial fee (still lower than many other municipalities, state, or
federal organizations charge), and then wait several weeks while the documents
are found, and read for information that is not related to the request or
information that could not legally be released to the public.
if someone wants to know where the City is spending their tax dollars, they can
click on the OpenGov icon on the City of Muscatine web site and view various
kinds of financial data that is updated daily by the Finance Department. A user
can drill down into the data, search for items of interest, and even look at
the check book to see who was paid what. You can even download this information
for later use. All for free and all from the comfort of your own home.
that is not where transparency ends with the City of Muscatine.
have contacted the City through emails, phone calls, or personal visits requesting
information, filing complaints, or just wanting to speak with someone about an
issue they have a concern about. Every department head, every administrator,
every employee takes the time to listen and to help where they can. And if
they cannot, they find someone who can.
City of Muscatine is a business and like all businesses we rely on the people
of Muscatine for our jobs. If we do not take the time to answer questions, to
listen to problems, or to work for a mutually agreeable solution, we are not
doing all we can for the citizens of Muscatine or our visitors.
has been and will continue to be a vital part of our mission. Use OpenGov to
view real time financial data. There is staff directory that lists email
addresses and phone numbers of the various departments so if you have a
question, fire it off. Make sure you properly identify yourself, put an
appropriate phrase on the subject line, and you will receive an answer.
Posted on August 16, 2017 at 10:24 AM by Kevin Jenison
In this motorized age of transportation where vehicular traffic once took precedence over pedestrian traffic, available parking can be an issue at any time and at any location. Drivers and/or the passengers want to park as close to their destination as possible. The further away they have to park, the angrier they become about the lack of adequate parking opportunities.
The City of Muscatine is no stranger to parking complaints but has established rules and regulations within Title VII of the City Code to address the issue. The City is also closely monitoring the use of free, metered, and lease parking opportunities in an ongoing study of the needs of the downtown area.
There are 1,427 parking spots in the downtown commercial district that stretches from Mulberry to Pine and from the Mississippi River to 4th Street.
Free parking is located on 2nd Street for up to three hours once per day in each space. However parking is prohibited on 2nd Street from 2-6 a.m. seven days a week in the downtown commercial district. There are many reasons for the moratorium on parking during those four hours including cleanup from snow emergencies, trash collection, and trash cleanup after special events. A change in the shift commander at the Muscatine Police Department and concerns of business owners over parking opportunities for shoppers has brought a renewed emphasis on enforcing the regulations.
Those regulations are displayed on every block of 2nd Street but should there still be questions as to what the regulations are, please contact City Hall at 563-264-1550. Our friendly staff is ready and willing to advise on the guidelines for parking along 2nd Street.
Free parking is also located in Riverside Park where approximately 500 spaces are available and all just a short walk to downtown businesses. During Phase I of the Mississippi Drive Reconstruction Project pedestrian traffic from that parking area to the commercial district has been limited to the pedestrian crossings at Sycamore and at Cedar. It may be several more months before the pedestrian crossings at Iowa and Chestnut are usable due to the construction.
Six parking lots also surround the downtown commercial district with free, metered and leased parking spots available. For more information on leasing a parking space in one of these lots visit the Parking Department page at the City of Muscatine web site. The locations of the parking lots are: Lot #1 200 block of West 3rd Street; Lot #2 200 block of West 2nd Street; Lot #4 200 block of Mississippi Drive off of Sycamore Street; Lot #6 100 block of West 3rd Street; Lot #7 200 block of East 3rd Street; and Lot #8, 300 block of East 3rd Street.
Designated spaces in lots #2, #4, and #8 allow for free parking up to 3-4 hours once per day as marked. Most metered spaces have either a two hour limit (silver cap) or a 10-hour limit (red cap). Leased spaces for the public are available in lots #2, #4. #7, and #8. There are special lease rates for downtown residents. Contact the City of Muscatine Finance Department for more information.
There is always free parking on Saturdays and Sundays and the holidays that the City of Muscatine is closed.
A little walk is a good thing and the City envisions a time when walking to the downtown area will again be the activity of choice rather than driving round and round while searching for the nearest parking space.
The long range plan for the downtown commercial district is to make the area more pedestrian friendly. A balance between the flow of vehicles and the movement of pedestrians is one of the goals of the Mississippi Drive Reconstruction Project. Wider sidewalks with plenty of gathering places for shoppers, diners, residents, and visitors to gather and enjoy the historical nature of downtown Muscatine is part of that long range plan as is creating better access from the river front to the downtown area.
In the months to come residents and visitors will begin to have a better visualization of just how the Mississippi Drive Reconstruction Project ties in with enhancing the uniqueness of the downtown area. Other areas of the community are not left out of the City's long range goals. Increasing the flow of visitors to the downtown area will also create an increased flow to other venues in this community - north, south, east, or west.
In the meantime, if you able, try parking a little further away and walking to your destination. Opportunities to park are usually more abundant on the outskirts of the downtown commercial district. The little bit of exercise you get may ease that road rage of parking.
One of the most often quoted phrases is "the best is yet to come" and that fits perfectly for the residents and visitors of Muscatine.