October 12, 2017

Councilman Clay Haley says the noise is confounding economic development, turning off potential new Carroll residents.

Jean Ludwig, a candidate in southwest Carroll’s 3rd Ward, where Haley has served for four years, is concerned that more city involvement in train noise means more local liability.

Those are some of the views that emerged on train-horn-noise mitigation, a long-running issue in Carroll, during a Chamber of Commerce city candidate forum Wednesday night at Carroll High School. About 40 people attended the event, with more listening live through Carroll Broadcasting.

“Remember that the train came here first,” said Councilman Jerry Fleshner. “The town decided to build around the train.”

Fleshner said he wouldn’t spend $500,000 — the estimate, he said, on one plan — to reduce train-horn noise, a project Fleshner also believes would disrupt local businesses.

Mayor Eric Jensen said expenses and opportunities would have to be weighed on train noise — which he sees as a fact of life in Carroll.

“I’ve heard that train many times,” Jensen said, noting that even if horns are silenced, trains rolling across the Union Pacific Railroad’s two tracks still will produce annoying sounds.

In the one-hour forum, moderated by St. Anthony Regional Hospital Development Director Trish Roberts, Ludwig, a former nurse, said that profession has trained her to listen. A Planning and Zoning Commission member, and the first woman to be admitted to the Carroll Rotary Club, Ludwig repeatedly struck themes of small-business growth and advanced plans to attract Carroll High School and Kuemper Catholic High School alums back to Carroll.

Ludwig said people living in American cities often have commutes of 45 minutes or longer, time that could be more wisely spent in Carroll, where there is little commuting time.

“People take it for granted that’s what they have to do,” Ludwig said.

Haley, president of Haley Equipment, which has locations in Carroll, Wall Lake and Rockwell City, said increasing housing stock to lure more employees to fill existing vacant jobs in Carroll is a top priority for city leaders.

Fleshner, the only candidate on the ballot for an at-large seat, has two sons living in Carroll.

“I’m running as a candidate with no ax to grind,” Fleshner said.

The lone candidate on the ballot in Ward 1, northeast Carroll, Mike Kots, could not attend the forum. But in a letter he stressed his military background, pledged to act on train-horn-noise reduction and support the current library plan.

Jensen sees updating the Carroll Recreation Center as a priority, and Fleshner pressed for more development around the full Graham Park area.

“I think it can become a centerpiece for the community,” Fleshner said.

Added Haley on Graham Park, “This is how the community comes together to make things happen.”

All four candidates present at the forum expressed support for the current library plan.

“I’m going to fulfill the will of the voters,” Jensen said, referencing the successful Aug. 1 library referendum.

Fleshner said not all issues have to big-ticket items to make a difference to quality of the life in Carroll.

He supports adding air conditioning to at least one shelterhouse in a city park, and plans to bring that idea forward in this year’s strategic planning session.

The city election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.