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Keokuk Could Help Spur Development

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Keokuk could make it easier for downtown properties to be developed.

Fire Chief Gabe Rose says city code requires sprinkler systems be added to a downtown building if it is renovated for mixed use. 

Mixed use generally refers to commercial/retail business on the first floor and residential units on the upper level.

Rose is proposing a change that would provide an exemption to the sprinkler system requirement for certain buildings.

He says other safety features would have to be in place, such as specific walls and ceilings and an interconnected alarm system.  That would warn residents if a fire/emergency breaks out in the commercial property.

The exempted buildings would also have to meet height requirements and unit totals.

Rose says many times, developments stall out because of the added costs associated with adding a sprinkler system.

The city council appears to support the proposal, so an initial vote could occur during its first meeting in May.

Main Street Keokuk is redeveloping the former Eagles building for mixed use.  The organization hopes this project will encourage others to revamp other downtown properties for residential and commercial use.



Efforts are underway to bring a local landmark back to Keokuk.

The city removed the old Rocket Slide in Kilbourne Park, several years ago, over safety concerns.  A newer version was added in its place.

The old slide has resurfaced as it was recently featured on a reality TV show.

The current owner had it restored, but is not interested in keeping it, so residents want to bring it back to Keokuk.

6th Ward Alderman Roger Bryant says the city is willing to listen as long as the slide meets the proper safety requirements.  He says if the city’s insurance provider will not cover it, the city would not install it.

Bryant says the cost would also be a factor for the city, be it bringing the slide up to code or transporting it to Keokuk.

Several groups have started meeting online and in-person to try to raise money.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.