WAVERLY — In a surprising move, the mayor has vetoed spending more money for a new pedestrian bridge approved by the City Council 10 days ago.
In an email sent Thursday to council members, the city attorney and city administrator, Mayor Charles Infelt announced he would veto Resolution 17-126. That resolution, approved 4-3 on Oct. 2, approved the latest round of funding for WHKS and Co. to continue putting together a plan for a pedestrian bridge over the Cedar River at Third Street S.E..
Infelt cited budgetary concerns and a city election next month as his reasons for the veto.
“I find it prudent to protect these tax payer monies until the new year and the sitting of new council,” Infelt wrote.
Infelt said Thursday he has been in favor of a two-lane vehicular bridge, while at the same time stressing he was a “mayor for everyone.”
“What causes (this) veto is that we could expend nearly $70,000 of engineering cost in preparation for bids, and have a new council make that a fruitless venture,” he said. “And so I didn’t want to pile on more expenses to the town.”
Infelt said that happened before, when council initially agreed to let bids on repairing the existing bridge and then voted against it — a fact outgoing at-large council member David Reznicek brought up in response to the mayor’s email.
“He’s concerned about $70k after his 4 council members blew $300k on the bridge so far?” Reznicek, who voted for the pedestrian bridge funding, wrote in an email. “This is nothing more than a couple people needing to win. It has nothing to do with a bridge.”
“Sad day for Waverly,” wrote Ward 3 council member Wes Gade, who also voted for funding. “The Liberal Left doesn’t get there (sic) way, they refuse to except (sic) the result.”
Ward 1 council member Dan Lampe, whose district includes the bridge, said he and the three others voted in favor of the pedestrian bridge based on the wishes of what he called an “overwhelming majority of residents.”
“I am very disappointed and troubled with his decision to veto this project,” Lampe wrote. “It demonstrates blatant disregard for the welfare and quality of life at stake for the area residents in this historic, working class neighborhood in order to provide a shortcut for the wealthier neighborhood residents in town.”
Reznicek, Gade and Lampe have all announced their resignations from the council, while Ward 5 council member Tim Kangas, who voted with the three in passing the pedestrian option, is in a contested council race next month.
With their majority gone in November, Infelt would have no automatic opposition to a vehicular option when the next council is seated, though some candidates have voiced opposition to a vehicular option as well.
Kangas said he would have preferred Infelt “allow this to go forward” since it was the will of the majority, but that he respected it was the mayor’s decision.
“I still do not feel a two-lane bridge is appropriate at this location, but that is now something a new council will have to look into and a two-lane bridge will certainly cost more than a pedestrian bridge,” Kangas wrote.
Those who have voted against the pedestrian bridge in the past praised the mayor’s veto.
“I fully support Mayor Infelt’s veto and the reason’s he’s stated,” wrote Ward 2 council member Dan McKenzie. “With the Mayor’s veto, we’ll now have the opportunity discuss all remaining options and how they could be funded.”
“I hope this step gives us the opportunity to take a comprehensive look at current and future traffic patterns, flood mitigation (especially in southeast Waverly), and river crossings—all within an integrated and strategic framework,” wrote At-Large council member Edith Waldstein.
Ward 4 council member Mike Sherer, who also voted against the pedestrian option, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The mayor’s veto is legal under Iowa Code.