Liability waivers to be required of users

One of the big questions surrounding the reopening of municipal facilities is, what if the city does everything its supposed to do under current coronavirus restrictions and somebody still gets sick?

In today’s environment, city officials say, the city still is likely to be sued.

Tekamah City Council on Thursday took action to protect themselves from legal action.

The council passed resolutions that require liability waivers from people using the ball parks, park shelters and the auditorium.

The ball park documents may be the most wide ranging. City Attorney Matt Munderloh said the resolution mirrors rules but in place by several other communities. He said it shifts responsibility for following health department guidelines from he city to the organization sponsoring the use.

“That includes cleaning the rest rooms,” he said. “You don’t have to open them, but if you do, the cleaning is up to them.”

Under current health department guidance, a public rest room would have to be cleaned after each use or at least every two hours. Street Superintendent matt Deemer said his crew would not be cleaning a rest room at all this summer, citing safety concerns for his employees.

The ball park ordinance, 2020-6, also carries a liability waiver that holds the city harmless should someone contract coronavirus at a ballgame. Council member Chad Zink said other area towns are doing the same thing and the teams know they’ll be required to sign a waiver before they can play.

Munderloh said he wanted the original documents signed by Tekamah’s teams on file at the city office. Opposing teams each can file a copy.

The resolution also clarifies that the fields are open for individual use.

While the city is not likely to reopen the kitchens or rest rooms at its two main park shelters, for the near future at least, picnic tables at the shelters can be used and users who notify the city also will be asked to sign a waiver.

Similar action was taken regarding the auditorium. The council amended the facility’s rental agreement to include language that renters are responsible to follow COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing and sanitation. For example. social distancing requirements limit attendance inside the auditorium at 214 people, 25 percent of its rated capacity.

Renters also will be required to file a reopening plan which must be approved the public health department prior to an event being held.

All other health department regulations still apply and the agreement requires renters to follow them, For example, wedding receptions—a common use of the auditorium—are limited to 50 percent of rated occupancy under health department guidelines, but groups are limited to six and six feet of separation must be maintained between groups. Self-serve buffets and salad bars are prohibited. Dances or other social events that require guests to gather away from their respective tables also are prohibited.

In other business June 11, the council:

—Following a brief public hearing, approved the execution of a purchase agreement for the former Tiger Bowl property.

The council had indicated its desire to purchase the property last October for possible development into municipal office space.

—Following a lengthy public hearing, adopted a comprehensive plan that covers development through 2030.

The plan was developed by Hanna:Keelan Associates of Lincoln and its approval was recommended by Tekamah Planning Commission.

A closer look at the plan will appear in a future edition of the Plaindealer.

—Directed Munderloh to draft an ordinance that would allow residents to keep chickens inside the city limits.

The proposal would require people who want to keep chickens to get a permit and follow a few regulations regarding the number of birds and how they are housed. They point to several places where chickens are currently being kept although Tekamah’s zoning ordinances prohibit “livestock or poultry,” within the city limits.

Zink said he thinks it should stay that way, saying the city can’t get people to register their dogs so they are unlikely to go through a permitting process to keep chickens.

“I don’t think this is necessary, period,” he said. “If you want chickens move to the country.”

Council member Jane Walford, who supports the idea, said it was developed from a resident who was trying to do the right thing.

“I commend her for that,” Walford said. “We already have them in town and she’s trying to not break the law.

“These days, for some families to raise their own protein, it’s a big deal.”

Council member Gary Anderson added chickens are among the biggest 4-H projects for city youth.

—Approved the final payment of $45,590.40 to Sioux Contracting for renovation work on City Auditorium.

Some minor work still needs finished. Adamson said crews were to return this week to install a new sign and those jobs can be addressed then.