Join Riverdale as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King on January 17th.

Join Riverdale as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King on January 17th.

Mayoral Proclamation MLK Jr DayAfter years of campaigning by activists, members of Congress and Coretta Scott King, among others, in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a U.S. federal holiday in honor of King. Observed on the third Monday of January, Martin Luther King Day was first celebrated in 1986.

On Tuesday, January 11, 2022, Mayor Anthony Heddlesten officially recognized MLK Day within the City of Riverdale with an official, mayoral proclamation.

Martin Luther King Day Proclamation for January 17, 2022

The Proclamation

Whereas, the struggle for freedom and equality has deep roots in the Quad City community, from the 1857 Dred Scott decision to the current social justice movement and countless events and contributions in between.

Whereas, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. contributed significantly to the identity and culture of our great nation through his contributions towards creating a more just and equitable world for all.”

Whereas, Dr. King’s vision of America is still an important and laudable dream to strive for.

Whereas, the 1994 King Holiday and Service Act (Act) charges all Americans to honor the birthday of Dr. King by engaging in “activities reflecting the life and teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., such as cooperation and understanding among racial and ethnic groups, nonviolent conflict resolution, equal economic and educational opportunities, and social justice.”

Whereas, inscribed in Washington, DC on his memorial and in his own words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Whereas,all residents, visitors, and employees of the City of Riverdale are encouraged to, in the honor of Dr. King, and spirit of the Act, engage in activities as they best see fit to move our community, our State, and our Nation towards these laudable ideals that Dr. King espoused, affecting all people in a positive manner.

Therefore, be it resolved, that I, Anthony Heddlesten, Mayor of the City of Riverdale, Iowa, do hereby proclaim January 17th, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

as a Day of Service in Riverdale, and call upon the people of our community to pay tribute to the life and works of Dr. King not only on this day, but throughout the entire year.

January 4 was Ava Griswold Day in Riverdale.

January 4 was Ava Griswold Day in Riverdale.

On January 4, 2022, long-time Riverdale resident, Ava Griswold McFarlin died peacefully at her home. Ava and her first husband, Paul Griswold, married in 1942 and raised six children – many of whom grew up in Riverdale and attended Pleasant Valley Schools. One of those children, Mark Griswold, attended the meeting of the Riverdale City Council on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, and received a mayoral proclamation honoring Ava and her long residency in the City from Mayor Anthony Heddlesten.

Mayoral Proclamation – Ava McFarlin Day

The Proclamation

Whereas, the City of Riverdale lost a long-time resident and friend to all of Riverdale on 4 January 2022.

Whereas, Ava, in her own words, said, “you can only live so long and I want to do it my way.”

Whereas, Ava had a great sense of humor, a sharp tongue, and loved to embellish any truths to her advantage.

Whereas, Ava was a nurse by vocation, having received a diploma from the Jane Lamb Hospital in Clinton, Iowa; put those skills to work for family, friends, and neighbors; and could always be counted on for being prepared and giving advice.

Whereas, Ava had a tremendous amount of energy all through her life and loved shopping for clothes, collecting tchotchkes, entertaining friends and social groups, and had a very independent spirit.

Whereas, Ava raised six children, had 23 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and a couple of grand dogs, some of whom can be found right here in Riverdale. (along with lifelong friend and neighbor, Teri Stickler)

Whereas, Ava was active in her community in groups such as the League of Women Voters, the Bettendorf Presbyterian Church, the YMCA, the Quad City Hiking Club, and as a hospice and mental health volunteer.

Therefore, be it resolved, that I, Anthony Heddlesten, Mayor of the City of Riverdale, Iowa, do hereby proclaim January 4th, 2022

Ava June Irwin Griswold McFarlin Day in Riverdale, Iowa.

January 12 is COVID-19 Awareness Day.

January 12 is COVID-19 Awareness Day.

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the United States hard and the Quad Cities has seen its share of infection, sickness and death. By the end of the first week in January, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported Scott County saw an increase of 257.6 cases/day of new COVID-19 infections since Dec. 27. Scott County’s total number of cases since the start of the pandemic jumped to 34,626.

The Iowa Department of Public Health released one more troubling COVID-19 statistic — Scott County’s positivity rate stood at 27% Wednesday.

Here in Riverdale, we’ve had residents suffer with COVID infections and we’ve had some residents succumb to illness. That’s why, in the interest of public education and awareness, Mayor Anthony Heddlesten issued the following Mayoral Proclamation at the first meeting of the Riverdale City Council on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

Mayoral Proclamation Designating January 12 as COVID-19 Awareness Day in Riverdale

The Proclamation

Whereas, COVID-19 cases are increasing significantly within our region.

Whereas, the Scott County Health Department encourages masking when in indoor spaces, social distancing, getting vaccinated, and getting boosted, if eligible.

Whereas, more information on COVID-19 safety is available from the Scott County Health Department’s COVID-19 website at the following link: https://www.scottcountyiowa.gov/health/covid19

Whereas, vaccines can be found near our community by visiting the website: https://www.vaccines.gov/ or by calling 1-800-232-0233.

Whereas, indoor mask wearing is encouraged in areas of “High” or “Substantial” community transmission as defined on the CDC’s website located here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

Therefore, be it resolved, that I, Anthony Heddlesten, Mayor of the City of Riverdale, Iowa, do hereby proclaim January 12th, 2022

COVID-19 AWARENESS DAY

In the City of Riverdale, Iowa and call upon the people of the community and City staff to review the information provided by our County and National medical experts, consult with their own personal physicians, and do all they can to help reduce community transmission and save lives.

Elected official work sessions set for January 22, 2022

Elected official work sessions set for January 22, 2022

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETINGS

City Staff and Elected Officials of the City of Riverdale will be holding a series of public work sessions on Saturday, January 22, 2022, starting at 9:00 am. Residents of Riverdale interested in serving on City committees, commissions and advisory boards as well as interested residents are welcome to attend one or all of the work sessions.

What’s on the agenda?

A summary of the planned start time and subject matter for each meeting can be found below:

Start Time Subject Description Who’s Invited to Participate
9:00 am Public Meeting Essentials City Administrator Kent Royster will provide background information on how residential concerns and suggestions are processed through the City Council, Opportunities for Resident involvement in City committees, commissions and advisory boards, Important facts to know about Iowa’s open meetings law, How to access Riverdale’s records, and the Rules of Order Riverdale uses for managing public meetings. Interested Residents
City Committee Members
City Council Members
Mayor
10:00 am City Maintenance City Administrator Kent Royster will present his research on the City’s historical maintenance costs and his thoughts on what’s needed in the future. Members of Council will discuss options for staffing, equipping and contracting for maintenance services starting as soon as possible. City Council Members
Mayor
11:00 am Planning for Major Projects and Capital Purchases City Administrator Kent Royster will present a list of projects currently on the City’s major projects and capital improvements list (along with current budgets and estimated timelines) for the City Council to review, discuss and amend. City Council Members
Mayor

Digital copies of agendas and information packets for each meeting will be added to the website when available.

Regular City Council meeting set for Tuesday, January 25, 2022

First regular meeting of the Riverdale City Council set for January 11, 2022

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING

The first meeting of Riverdale’s City Council will convene at 7pm on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. The meeting is open to the public.

This meeting will mark the first meeting for Riverdale’s new mayor, Anthony Heddlesten, who was elected in November. Mayor Heddlesten is familiar with the operations of the City Council, however, having served the past two years as a member of the Council and as Mayor Pro Tempore.

Another new facing joining the Mayor will be Council Member Vince Jurenga who was elected along with incumbent Council Member Paul DCamp in a three-way race last November. Mr. Jurenga currently works as a social studies teacher at Davenport Central High School.

What’s on the agenda?

January 11, 2022 Council Meeting Agenda
January 11, 2022 Council Meeting Packet

Digital copies of the meeting agenda and packet can be downloaded by clicking the links above.

The meeting’s agenda includes formal appointments of volunteer firefighters to Riverdale’s Fire Department as well as the designation of officers for the year. The Council will also act on recommendations for designated holidays for the coming year (periods when City Hall will be closed), engagement of a contractor to conduct utility locates as needed, the naming of financial depositories for the City during 2022, and consideration of a proposed barrier fence on the west side of the City where there has been some concern over encroachment from a Bettendorf trailer park.

The City Administrator is also scheduled to discuss progress on a variety of projects carried over from last year as well as providing an update to the Mayor and Council on the status of repairs underway to the traffic lights at the intersection of Bellingham and State Street (Hwy 67).

The Mayor will be issuing three proclamations at the meeting, honoring local, regional and national figures.

Meals-to-Go Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Meals-to-Go Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 11, 2022

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

The purpose of the hearing will be to discuss the status of the funding for the MEALS-TO-GO PROGRAM. The project is being funded in part through a Community Development Block Grant provided by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the City of Riverdale. If you have questions concerning the project and are unable to attend the meeting, you may contact the City Clerk (563-355-2511). Persons interested in the status of funding or the progress of the project are welcome to attend this meeting.

CDBG Grant Public Hearing Agenda for January 11, 2022

City Administrator goals and objectives set for 2022

City Administrator goals and objectives set for 2022

As its last piece of business in 2021, the City Council of Riverdale finalized and approved an ambitious set of goals and objectives for City Administrator Kent Royster who is currently the sole employee of the City. Among the first items on his list: recruiting and hiring some people to help him in 2022.

It’s been a long road

City Administrator, Kent Royster

Kent Royster was hired by the City of Riverdale at the beginning of the City’s 2021 fiscal year (July 1, 2020) and along with Deputy City Clerk Katie Enloe, he familiarized himself with the City of Riverdale and helped the city manage with the unexpected complications resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic and only five weeks’ into the job, the Derecho of 2020.

At the same time, Kent took over the responsibility for the roof replacement of City Hall, managed the installation of new exhaust ventilation equipment in the firehouse, oversaw the final details around the rehabilitation of roads in the Havens Acres neighborhood and negotiated daily questions and issues surrounding the accelerated development of the Woods Estates Subdivision.

Like all new jobs, both Kent and elected officials learned there were aspects of the City Administrator’s job that had not been sufficiently addressed in the original job description and by the end of FY21 (June 30, 2021), it was clear that expectations needed to be adjusted. A series of internal reviews with both Kent and Katie resulted in updated job descriptions and an on-going conversation about how staff, elected officials and residents would have to work together to accomplish everything the Council envisioned for the City.

Staff departures

Life started getting much more complicated when Deputy Clerk Katie Enloe turned in her resignation and left the employment of the City as of December 1, 2021. At a special closed session to discuss personnel matters, Kent and the Council discussed how they could set some structure in place that would make it easier for Kent to operate efficiently and keep elected officials and the public informed.

It was agreed that Council Members Kelly Krell and Paul DCamp would facilitate the development of both a series of goals and objectives for Kent to use the coming year and a list of “best practices” for any City Administrator/Manager in the future.

Once the goals and objectives for next year were set in place, the Council would provide a mid-year review with Kent to determine his success at that point and provide a corresponding compensation adjustment, if warranted.

Highlights for 2022

Looking at the agreed-upon goals for the coming year, here are some things we can look forward to …

  • City Operations and Management
    • Organize and manage an “Elected Officials Initial Work Session” in January
    • Conduct an “orientation session” for volunteers serving on City boards, commissions and committees
    • Provide clear and concise weekly updates to residents and elected officials
    • Provide monthly updates to all constituents via mailed monthly newsletter
  • Budget Development
    • Attend, facilitate and participate in the regular meetings of the City’s Finance Committee
    • Present budget amendment resolutions to the Council for consideration
    • Produce a concise financial summary report that allows the public and elected officials to evaluate the City’s revenue and expense activity at each meeting
    • Publish the dates for public meetings/intake sessions, public hearings, and Council actions related to the budget for the coming fiscal year far enough in advance they can be published in the City’s calendar
  • Rules and Regulations
    • Post the latest versions of Riverdale’s ordinances and the City’s zoning code/subdivision ordinance
    • Review City ordinances and regulations in relation to those of other communities within the Quad City region
    • When new ordinances and resolutions are proposed by members of the community or Council, verify the proposal against existing Federal, State, and City code and ensure compliance
    • Provide a report to Council at the first Council meeting of each month about the status of code enforcement
  • Improved Efficiency
    • Turn items on the Administrator’s weekly report into updates on the City’s website.
    • Consolidate the weekly Administrator’s report into the monthly City newsletter
    • Implement online bill pay (credit or debit) on the City’s website
    • Provide a plan to the Mayor and Council for making improvements to the City’s electronic document management system no later than April 1, 2022
  • Personnel Management (internal and external)
    • Have a final plan for on-going grounds maintenance and landscaping completed to review with Council by the first meeting in February
    • Have a revised snow removal plan completed to review with the Council by the first meeting in June
    • At the first Council meeting of each month, present information on staff activities
    • At the second Council meeting of each month, present information on contractor activities
    • Conduct a 6-month review to assess each staff member’s progress with respect to completing the defined goals, and revise as is appropriate
    • Conduct a year-end review to assess each staff member’s progress with respect to the goals and with each staff member’s performance, making appropriate recommendations for each staff member’s improvement. 
  • Strategic Vision
    • Document and publish the Riverdale City vision established within the Elected Officials’ Work Session
    • Facilitate the completion/updating of the City’s 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year Capital Improvement Plans and Budgets for review with Council in the fall of each year
    • Participate in regional efforts that support the building and development of the community and its full incorporation into the greater Quad City region
  • Personal/Professional Development
    • Complete professional training in one of the following tracks:  Municipal Administration; Municipal Financial Management; or Leadership, by December 31, 2022
    • Dedicate 4 hours per month to investigate new trends in city management and changes initiated by the state of Iowa that will potentially impact Riverdale
    • Participate in professional development with the Iowa League of Cities, ICMA, or other professional organizations related to City management and administration

You can download and read the City Administrator’s 2022 goals and objectives here:

City Administrator’s 2022 Goals FINAL

FY23 Budget work session held on Tuesday, December 14, 2021

FY23 Budget work session held on Tuesday, December 14, 2021

REPORT OF PUBLIC WORK SESSION

This Public Work Session of the Riverdale City Council was held as a public meeting in the Community Room of Riverdale’s City Hall at the appointed time and in accordance with open meeting laws set and defined by the State of Iowa.

What happened?

December 14, 2021 FY23 Budget Workshop Agenda
December 14, 2021 FY23 Budget Workshop Packet
December 14, 2021 FY23 Budget Workshop Minutes
December 14, 2021 FY23 Budget Workshop Recording

The work session was called to order at 6:09 pm by Mayor Bawden.

City Administrator Kent Royster explained the process he will use to present the budget in pieces, reviewing the numbers with the City Council and the public on a department-by-department basis. For tonight’s meeting, Mr. Royster plans on presenting the Administrative Department (General Government) and will let Riverdale’s Fire Chief, Chris Bernard, present the department’s portion of the Fire and Public Safety Budget.

Copies of the budget documents presented at the meeting are included as supplements to these minutes.

The Mayor asked Mr. Royster to provide those in attendance with a copy of the spreadsheet created to show staff wages and the allocation of those wages across each City department.

Major projects for FY23 have yet to be identified and built into the budget. The City Council is expected to reach some consensus at a budget work session in January. That meeting will be open to the public, but there will not be an opportunity for direct questions and input from residents during that session.

Council members asked questions about expense allocations against prior budgets and the Mayor explained the planned review process that will be undertaken with the FY22 budget in order to draft budget resolution(s) for the current year and to then do a complete review and analysis of the FY21 budget to get the information in the City’s accounting system to square with the summary reports submitted to the State. The summary reports are correct, but the detail the City needs to operate and manage expenses is not clear.

Public Comment

Eric Syverud asked about what the City’s plans are to manage the maintenance costs for everything from mowing lawns to landscaping to snow plowing, etc. DCamp suggested that a variety of scenarios be prepared for Council review and evaluation. Krell reminded her colleagues that there will be another work session for Council in early July to discuss maintenance issues.

The maintenance discussion will be held on January 10 and the next work session for public input will be at 6pm on January 11, 2022.

The meeting was adjourned by Mayor Bawden at 6:52 pm.

Riverdale considers new sanitary sewer rates for FY 23

Riverdale considers new sanitary sewer rates for FY 23

For some time, Riverdale has been working on re-aligning its sanitary sewer finances (both capital investment and rates) for the coming year. Following a discussion with some concerned citizens, the proposed ordinance change has been tabled until new cost projections can be worked out and rates computed.  According to out-going mayor, Mike Bawden, the goal is to have public hearings on both the proposed ordinance changes and the rates completed in time that people will feel confident knowing what their sanitary sewer bill will be when the new rates go into effect on July 1, 2022.

Re-structuring the City’s sewer fund

The Sanitary Waste Treatment Facility in West Davenport – jointly owned by Riverdale and three other cities.

A group of interested citizens, led by the former mayor, will work with historical usage information and projections from the Joint Sewerage Committee (who owns and controls the main sanitary line through Riverdale), to build a more comprehensive financial model to project the City’s sanitary sewer expenses. RIverdale is a part-owner of the consortium of cities that jointly owns the trunk sewer line extending from Panorama Park to west Davenport (where the waste water treatment facility is located).

“Our responsibilities as a co-owner of the waste treatment plant and the main trunk line that serves us means we all need to make sure our sewer fund has enough money in it to manage the on-going operational costs and improvements needed from time to time in that facility,” explained Bawden.

But the overhaul of the City’s Sewer Fund was needed for more reasons than just the costs associated with the joint sewer service with Davenport, Bettendorf, and Panorama Park. “We also needed to start allocating overhead and engineering costs for the sanitary sewer to the sewer fund,” explained Bawden. “Historically, Riverdale has been covering those costs out of its General Fund and that’s not really appropriate. Those costs are sanitary sewer related, so they should be paid with user fees and not property taxes.”

(from left to right) Mayors Rice (Panorama Park), Bawden (Riverdale), Klipsch (Davenport) and Gallagher (Bettendorf) sign the documents setting the joint sewer 28E Agreement between all four cities in place.

The difference is slight, but it is there. Not all residents in Riverdale are on the sanitary sewer system and, as a result, don’t pay sewer fees.

In addition to the costs of the jointly-owned sewer utility and overhead, the financial model built by the working group will also include capital investments and sanitary sewer rehabilitations currently scheduled for the next 3 to 6 years as Riverdale moves proactively to eliminate I&I (inflow and infiltration) from their portion of the joint sewer system. Failing to do successfully eliminate I&I from the lines could be financially catastrophic not just for Riverdale, but for all of the cities in the partnership.

Penalties for inaction

“The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a multi-million dollar order ready to hand down to Davenport, Bettendorf, Riverdale and Panorama Park if we don’t get the I&I situation under control and reduce the amount of relatively clean water that flows through the waste treatment plant at peak times,” said Bawden. “Most of the work needs to be done in Davenport and some of it needs to be done in Bettendorf – but Riverdale and Panorama Park have a little work as well. In our case, most of the sewer repairs we need to make can be done by re-lining the pipes. There are just a couple of spots where we’ll need to do something more involved.”

Riverdale and Panorama Park are currently working jointly on a rehabilitation project for both cities. By sharing the project, both cities are expected to save money.

Regular City Council meeting set for Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Regular City Council meeting held on Tuesday, December 14, 2021

REPORT OF PUBLIC MEETING

This Regular Meeting of the Riverdale City Council was held in the Community Room of Riverdale’s City Hall at the appointed time and in accordance with open meeting laws set and defined by the State of Iowa (Sections 21.2 and 21.8).

What happened?

December 14, 2021 Council Meeting Agenda
December 14, 2021 Council Meeting Packet 
December 14, 2021 Council Meeting Minutes
December 14, 2021 Council Meeting Recording

Before the official start of the evening’s meeting, Mayor-elect Anthony Heddlesten and Council Members-elect Paul DCamp and Vince Jurgena were sworn in by Mayor Mike Bawden. The meeting was then called to order at 7:07 pm by Mayor Bawden.

Council Member Vince Jurgena and his wife following his taking the oath of office.

Mayor-Elect Anthony Heddlesten stands with his wife and son following his swearing in at City Hall.

Mayor Mike Bawden presents the oath of office certificate to returning City Council Member Paul DCamp who was re-elected in November.

Following the approval of the consent agenda by the City Council, the City Administrator and other City Staff made their reports to the Council. Administrator Royster promised to clarify the confusion surrounding the Veteran’s Preference Hearing scheduled for Monday, December 20, 2021. (Two different start times for the hearing had been related to Council Members and the actual time needed to be confirmed.)

Staff/Department Reports

City Engineer, Chris Cooper (MSA Consultants)  provided updates on the Manor Hill, Fenno Road and Woods Estates projects – all are proceeding on schedule. Cooper/MSA has also been helping Administrator Royster with pulling together budget estimates for major public works projects to be considered for FY23. 

MSA also assisted the City with a requested response to IDOT for their upcoming 2022 traffic count program. Further discussion was held with regard to the City’s participation in the MS4 program and possible repercussions from IDNR if it stops. His complete report can be found in the meeting packet.

Riverdale Fire Chief Chris Bernard provided a quick update on the number of calls to the department over the past two weeks and training classes held. Department officer elections for 2022 have been held and Bernard will provide names to the City Administrator can prepare a resolution for 2022 for appropriate appointments. 

Sewer Ordinance tabled

The Mayor provided an update as to where things stand on setting rates for the coming year and requested the Council table the third reading of this ordinance until further study can be completed, new rates computed and then re-submit the rates to the Council for consideration. The new rates would go into effect on July 1 and be updated at the start of each fiscal year.

Motion to table made by Littrel , seconded by DCamp.  All ayes. Item tabled.

Resolutions

  • Resolution 2021-59 – Goals and Objectives of the City Administrator for Calendar Year 2022
    The resolution was not included in the packet. Krell updated the Council on plans for circulating the final drafts of the goals. Council agreed to meet again for one last meeting specifically to address this resolution.
  • Resolution 2021-60 – A Resolution approving Change Order #1 for the Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation (Phase II) Project
    Additional costs cover the addition of a storm water intake to the project scope for $500. Moved by Littrel, seconded by Heddleten. All ayes. Motion carried.
  • Resolution 2021-61 – A Resolution Advising Residents on How the Increase of Sanitary Sewer Fees will be Used
    City Administrator Royster explained the City would create a customized rate letter for residents to go out at the beginning of each year. The Council clarified what their intention was (not quite so detailed). Moved by DCamp, seconded by Heddletsen, then amended by Krell. The amended motion was then called by the Mayor for a voice vote and passed unanimously.

Finance Committee Ordinance withdrawn

The Mayor suggested to the Council that it wait until the FY23 Budget is completed and certified before moving forward on the adoption of this new chapter to the City’s Code. He withdrew the ordinance – meaning the Council will need to re-consider a new version of the ordinance and read it three times before it can be adopted.

Council discussion topics 

  • Scheduling Additions for Budget Timeframe
    The City Administrator reports that the City Council will be asked to make a formal request for a Max Levy hearing to adjust the City’s general tax levy for FY23.
  • Re-cap of Winter Activity
    Council Member Krell provided a re-cap of the Winter Activity held on December 4.
  • Hiring a New Deputy Clerk
    Forty resumes have been received for the Deputy Clerk position. Five of the resumes look very promising.
  • Veteran’s Preference Hearing on December 20
    The Veteran’s Preference Hearing will be held at 7pm on Monday, December 20, 2022.
  • Interest in Maintenance Staffing Scenarios
    Council Member DCamp brought up some suggestions for creating some additional staffing scenarios that divide work (in this case, Maintenance) between paid staff (part-time or full-time) and contractors/consultants.

Final thoughts from the Mayor

The Mayor read a prepared statement about his past four years as Mayor of the City of Riverdale. If you want to read it in its entirety, click here.

After a brief presentation from the City Council made by Mayor Pro-Tempore Anthony Heddlesten (and the incoming mayor), Mayor Bawden gaveled out his last regular City Council meeting at 8:42 pm.

Some final thoughts on the past four years.

Some final thoughts on the past four years.

Mike Bawden, Mayor of Riverdale

Well, this is the end of my last, regular meeting of the Riverdale City Council, and I have a few thoughts on the past four years I’d like to share with all of you and enter into the official record.  It’s been an interesting period in our nation’s history and a most interesting time to serve as your mayor. It’s been more of a challenge than I had expected or led to believe.

But while it’s been a bit frustrating from time to time, the experience has been instructive, rewarding and, at times, even fun.

Not every idea I brought to this office was a great one. Some were good. Others probably could have stayed on the pad of paper where they originated. But I think one thing I can say quite honestly, is that I wasn’t afraid to try something new if I thought it could improve the quality of life in our little city and, if possible, save us some money in the long run.

Unfortunately, we ran into a few obstacles along the way. You know, little things like floods, water main breaks washing out roads, a volunteer firefighter passing away, occasional blizzard conditions, a summertime drought, our first murder, a pandemic that killed hundreds in Scott County, a pandemic response nearly shutting down our economy for months, a derecho that wiped out trees across the city, and a little controversy over a strip of land at the end of Kensington Street in Havens Acres.

None of that was in my plan. But somehow, we got through it all.

Thanks in no small part to our part-time and full-time staff members like City Administrators Tim Long, Lisa Kotter and Kent Royster; Clerks Ron Fullerlove, Mary Francis Blevins, Scharlott Blevins and Katie Enloe; our amazing volunteer fire department including retired chief Floyd Bruns, our new chief Chris Bernard and chief “burr-under-the-saddle” Brian Ballard; professional advisors like Paul Macek, Mike Walker, Greg Jaegger, Pat Callahan, and Chris Cooper, and Colin Wellenkamp and Brandt Thorington (from the MRCTI); our many board chairs and commission members of P&Z, the ZBA, invasive species task force and other groups.

That especially includes frequent Council Meeting guests, social media friends, Town Hall meeting attendees and other friendly inquisitors: Teri Stickler, Steve Townsend, Dallas Paustian, Judy Krell, The Glews, Lois Kempton, Heather Wren, Don and Pat Fisher, Beth Halsey, Athena Smith, Adam Guillon, and Eric and Wendy Syverud.

Of course, I need to pass along a special thanks to the members of the Riverdale City Council. Some who aren’t on the Council anymore, like Dean Halsey and Cheryl Channon to those currently serving: Doug Littrel, Kevin Adams, Kelly Krell, Paul DCamp and our next mayor, Anthony Heddlesten.

I’d especially like to thank my buddy, Paul, who talked me into running for mayor in the first place. This is all his fault.

I’d like to thank my family for keeping me “real” (casting the only write-in votes for “Mayor McCheese” in the history of Riverdale elections), and to my wife for her patience with me as I took on this challenge and most of all for her support when I was down.

And, finally, I’d like to thank all the citizens of Riverdale for the opportunity to serve and to be of service. It’s been a gift. And I mean that sincerely. Your kind words and gentle support – and, occasionally, not-so-gentle reminders that I can do better – are all greatly appreciated. 

More than you might ever know.

You see, some people, I think, run for political office because they want or need the recognition. They relish the opportunities to be recognized, to read a script for applause, to sit through media interviews or to talk with other important people. That’s not me. Really.

I’m not into public recognition. I don’t need it and don’t actively seek it out. I suppose that’s why I’m lousy at publicly recognizing others. It’s not natural for me. As a result, we’ve probably only had four or five mayoral proclamations while I’ve been in office. If I could be so bold as to make a recommendation to Anthony – do more to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of the people of Riverdale to this community. The last mayor wasn’t so great at that.

But in all honesty, what gets me going is helping other people. I’ve made a career out of that character trait. In my job, it’s usually my responsibility to ask “why not” or “what if” and then figure out a plan to do things people might have otherwise thought to be impractical or down right impossible. Between my optimistic nature and love of change, I’m the kind of guy who thinks we can always do better. 

And that’s what I’d like to leave as the parting thought of this four-year political odyssey:  Riverdale can do better. It can be better.

Our city deserves to be better and it’s up to all of us – in political leadership or private life – to work hand-in-hand to make the kind of community we want in order to avoid getting the community we’ll deserve. Because thinking we’re as good as we can be, that we’ve done all we can do, that there’s nothing left to be done … those are the things that lead to malaise and inefficiency. Frustration and deep disappointment.

People stop talking. Deals get made out of public view. No one is willing to be held accountable. And nothing that matters ever seems to get done.

So, I implore you all to get and to stay involved.

We’re blessed with leaders who care about you and care about Riverdale – but it’s difficult to set a course for the community’s future if the community itself remains silent. I’ve already told Anthony, Kent, and the Council that I’m happy to remain engaged and volunteer my time. I’ll stay involved.

And I won’t be silent.

I ask you all to do the same. Together, we can keep making Riverdale better than it’s ever been before.

So, thanks for the memories … let’s make some more.

– Mayor Mike Bawden