Blog module icon

City of Muscatine Communication Blog

Hello and welcome to our blog. As the Communication Manager for the City of Muscatine, Iowa, I know the importance of communicating with residents and providing them with an understanding of the different functions of the City, why these functions are important to our residents, and what the City is doing for the future of our community.

Many times the story of the various activities, accomplishments, and happenings within the City are not told and we want to make sure that the people behind these activities, accomplishments, and happenings are duly recognized. We also want to explain our vision of the future for the City of Muscatine, something that we take great pride in.

Please check back in periodically to see updates on what's going on here in Muscatine! Please feel free to leave comments on individual postings--the comments will not be displayed here, but they will be emailed to me so that I can collect your thoughts and make adjustments based on the feedback and suggestions. Moderated comments are an option as we progress. Thanks for reading and I hope you find this to be an effective tool!

Nov 07

Voting is your right and privilege - Vote Tuesday

Posted on November 7, 2017 at 9:02 AM by Kevin Jenison

Tuesday is an important day for the citizens of Muscatine. It is Election Day with registered voters going to the polls to vote on who will be the mayor for the next two years along with selecting candidates to fill the three council seats that are on the ballot. Voting is the right and privilege of every U.S. citizen who has taken the time to register to vote, using their voice, anonymously, to select the leaders who have the future of Muscatine in their hands for the next two years.

The City of Muscatine believes strongly in this process and we participate by voting our conscious just as every citizen should. If you have not participated in this election yet, please make time to vote Tuesday.

The polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Muscatine. Residents in the First Ward (Precincts 1 & 2) and the Third Ward (Precincts 5 & 6) vote at the Muscatine Community School Administration Building (2900 Mulberry Avenue). Residents in the Second Ward (Precincts 3 & 4) vote at Clark House (117 West 3rd Street).  Residents in the Fourth Ward (Precincts 7 & 8) vote at Mulford Church (2400 Hershey). Residents in the Fifth Ward (Precincts 9 & 10) vote at the Muscatine Community College (MCC) McAvoy Center (1403 Park Avenue). Your voter registration card has your precinct number on it.

Voter registration has officially ended, but you can still register tand vote at the polling centers Tuesday with a photo ID and proof of residency. More information on registering and where to vote can be found at the Muscatine County Auditor’s web site by clicking here.

Municipal elections usually do not bring out the vote but they are just as important as any state or national election. Just 12 percent of registered voters made it to the polls for the 2015 election and just seven percent voted in a mayor’s race that was decided by 120 votes (820-700). Only six percent voted in 2011 and 11 percent in 2009. Voting for the council seats was equally disappointing but not inconsistent with municipal election trends.

The old adage still applies, though … if you don’t vote – don’t complain. Be sure to vote this year and offset the trends of the last several election cycles.

We hope that the citizens of Muscatine take this opportunity and express their hope for Muscatine’s future at the ballot box. We are all working toward the common goal … making Muscatine a better place to work, live, and raise a family … and your vote Tuesday will demonstrate your investment in that goal.

VOTE TUESDAY!

Oct 02

Transparency and the City

Posted on October 2, 2017 at 8:45 PM by Kevin Jenison

Much 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.

 

A year 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.

 

That 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.

 

While 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 verification.

 

Knowing 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.

 

The 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.

 

No 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.

Today, 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.

 

But that is not where transparency ends with the City of Muscatine.

 

Many citizens 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.

 

The 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. 

 

Transparency 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.

 

 

Aug 16

Plenty of parking downtown, just follow the rules

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.

No ParkingFree 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.