MASON CITY — Mason City’s mayor says the city is in good condition as it moves into 2019. Bill Schickel will deliver his “State of the City” message to the City Council tonight, but previewed that speech this morning during the “Ask the Mayor” program on AM-1300 KGLO.

Schickel says the lack of progress on the River City Renaissance project in 2018 was very frustrating, but he feels the project is back on track and that groundbreaking for the multi-purpose arena could happen next month. “I’m an eternal optimist, but I really think some of the pieces are starting to come in place that we can move this project forward and I believe we’ll see groundbreaking for the multi-purpose center by February at the latest.”

Schickel says he wants see the implementation of the Willow Creek Master Plan, which has been on the shelf for a number of years. He says there’s more potential in making improvements to the Willow Creek area today compared to the past. “I do think affordable and mid-range housing should be part of that. I think we’re going to see some opportunities for that. Upgrading of signage through the area. One basic thing, while I was walking around Willow Creek the other day, we’ve got a lot of cleanup that we need to do in that area. The growth and overgrowth needs to be removed so people can enjoy that river. We have the makings of a beautiful river walk already, and the Willow Creek Master Plan really outlines the plan that I think could be spectacular for downtown.”

Schickel says it’s a goal for the city to continue to upgrade code enforcement on unsafe and abandoned properties. “Seven properties have been tagged for that this year. That’s in addition to the standard kind of code cleanup, like weeds, trash and junk cars. This is a priority of city council, this is a personal priority for me because when we do this, it makes our neighborhoods safer, it improves property values, and it’s just good for our community.”

Several homes were impacted by heavy rainstorms in June with flooding in many areas of the community. Schickel says he was pleased with the response by rescuers as well as city staff’s follow-up with trying to solve some of the flooding issues. “I think we’ve learned some things through experience and I think we were able to respond more quickly to immediate needs this time. We launched a flood mitigation plan that has three major elements to it. You’ll be seeing more about that during our discussion on capital improvements. We hope to fund some of the engineering work and some of the infrastructure work that needs to be done in order to mitigate flooding.”

Schickel will give his “State of the City” address at tonight’s council meeting that starts at 7 o’clock in the Mason City Room of the Public Library.

You can hear more of Schickel’s comments from the “Ask the Mayor” program on KGLO by clicking on the audio player below