Ten area mayors, along with the three Dubuque County Supervisors and representatives from the East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA), participated in a Dubuque County mayors meeting Aug. 15 at Cascade City Hall.

First up was Travis Kraus, program director for The University of Iowa’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC).

According to a handout provided at the meeting, the IISC is a campus-wide effort to enhance the capacity of rural and urban communities in Iowa to address the environmental, equity, economic and cultural issues they face today and to help them plan for a sustainable future.

The University of Iowa partners with one community each academic year for the IISC partnership. The partnership involves UI students, faculty and staff, who work alongside co0mmunity residents to complete 15-20 community-based projects, which can range from engineering to planning, to marketing and branding.

Following Krause’s 40-minute presentation, supervisor Ann McDonough explained that the county would be the sponsor to help get applications for the program completed, and said there’s been excitement about the program at the mayor’s level. She also questioned possibly doing it for a county-wide process as opposed to just one municipality.

The deadline for letters of interest is Sunday, Sept. 1.

Other topics discussed during the meeting include a brownfield database and the pocket neighborhood in Maquoketa.

A “brownfield,” as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”

Common sites may include former gas stations, body shops or salvage yards, dry cleaners, railroads and rail yards, factories and industrial storage facilities, and buildings that contain asbestos.

ECIA can cover the cost to assess these properties to determine any contamination. The owners of the brownfield are responsible for the cleanup if they contributed to the contamination, and funding may be available if the owner did not create the hazard.

The pocket neighborhood discussion was for the sharing of information, and Kelly Deutmeyer, ECIA executive director, talked about replicating what is offered in Maquoketa in other communities.

Pocket neighborhoods contain a minimum of 10 houses that are built for $150,000 or less, and Deutmeyer said those in Maquoketa have been popular among people embracing the latest trend to downsize. Deutmeyer said she’d be happy to further explain the concept to any interested towns.