The Perry City Council authorized borrowing $2.2 million at its Monday, Aug. 19, meeting at City Hall.

The funds will pay for a new, half-million-dollar "pumper" fire truck for the Perry Fire Department as well as several construction projects around town.

Fire Chief Chris Hines addressed council members’ concerns about the chief features of the $480,000 custom-made truck, built by Wisconsin-based Marion Body Works. The new "pumper" truck will match the Marion ladder truck bought new by the city in 2003 and replace the aging 1980 Chevrolet fire truck.

"We’re not just building for today," Hines said, "but also for future needs."

The new truck will be capable of pumping 1,750 gallons of water per minute, exceeding the 1,250-gallon-per-minute standard recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Councilperson Jenny Eklund posed several questions that her constituents had asked, including whether the new truck will fit in the department’s existing garage space, whether the volunteer firefighting force can reliably muster enough manpower to operate the complex equipment and whether buying a used fire truck might not be more cost effective.

Hines assured Eklund the department’s garage would hold the new truck and that manpower would be adequate to deploy it. Used trucks can be unreliable, Hines said. The city hopes to avoid problems encountered with the new 1980 truck. "We had problems with it since the day it was delivered," he said, "and ever since then."

The Marion truck will be built "for the exact needs of the Perry Fire Department," Hines said. Members of the department visited the Marion factory Aug. 2 for a "pre-construction meeting," at which the design was modified—the wheel and tire size, the water capacity—to better suit the city’s needs.

The council thanked Hines for explaining the truck’s technical features. At-Large Councilperson Chuck Schott said he "can’t imagine the knowledge and expertise needed to operate such a vehicle" but is concerned the new truck be "appropriate, necessary and really functional."

Hines encouraged council members and interested citizens to visit the fire department and "take a ride in the ladder truck to see what we’re talking about."

While the new fire truck is the biggest single item to be financed, more than three-fourths of the funding—about $1.75 million—will go toward a variety of construction projects in Perry. The largest of these is the city’s development of 28th Street in order to accommodate the expansion of the Rowley Memorial Masonic Home, a collaborative cost-sharing project between the Rowley board of directors, the City of Perry and the Perry Water Works.

Mindy M. Bryngelson, vice president of the Ames-based engineering firm Clapsaddle-Garber Associates, gave the council a brief report on the physical infrastructure planned for 28th Street, including water, sewer and street and sidewalk details of the development. Bryngelson’s firm advises both the Rowley board and the City of Perry on the project. Perry also retains the engineering services of Bolton and Menk of Mankato, Minn.

The council accepted a bid of $505,000 from Keller Excavating in Boone to do the city’s portion of the 28th Street work, a price below Clapsaddle-Garber’s estimate of $543,000.

Complementing the development of 28th Street is the redesign planned for the eastern portion of Willis Ave. where it splits, its southern branch connecting to the Highway 141 bypass and northern branch leading to 30th and 31st Streets. Perry City Administrator Butch Niebuhr said the new intersection will be safer and suited to traffic at the Rowley expansion.

Another large construction project planned for the fall calls for the complete rebuilding of the McCreary Community Building parking lot. According to Niebuhr, moisture has undermined the 30-year-old parking lot, and the new lot will have more effective drainage and a longer lifespan. [Harlan Concrete] has won the bid for the job at an estimated cost of [$450,000].

A new hangar at the Perry Municipal Airport is also in the works for this fall. Seventy percent of the cost of the building will come from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Aviation Division, with the City of Perry covering the remainder.

Money from the DOT’s Surface Transportation Program will partially fund the paving of 18th Street north of McKinley Ave. and the rebuilding of the Willis Ave. bridge that crosses Frog Creek between W. 4th and W. 5th Streets. In addition, asphalt overlays are projected for eight to 10 sections of city roadway, including a southern section of 5th Street leading to the dog park.