Simpler is better.
That was the new message the Clarinda City Council shared with Emily Akers, owner of J Bruners, during its meeting Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Clarinda City Hall.
Akers and her husband, Joe, met with the council Aug. 14 to discuss options for screening two new air conditioning units to be installed at the restaurant.
Akers explained the air conditioning units were needed to cool the lounge area of the restaurant. High temperatures in that area, especially during the extremely hot summer months, created an uncomfortable setting for patrons and staff members.
“It’s ducted in right above the fire place when you go into the lounge. It doesn’t do anything for the patio. So, people who sit out there just know it’s going to be about five to 10 degrees difference,” Akers said.
After the initial air conditioner was installed by Clarinda Heating and Cooling, Akers said there was a noticeable improvement in the temperature of the lounge.
“It has done a really good job so far of cooling. It’s probably five to seven degrees less in there,” Akers said.
However, after the first unit was installed, Clarinda City Manager Gary McClarnon informed the owners installing the air conditioners on the awning above the front of the building conflicted with a contract they had signed with the city regarding changing the appearance of the facade. As a result, the installation of the second unit was halted until a solution that was agreeable to the city could be found.
J Bruners was one of several businesses on the square to participate in the facade rehabilitation project. All the participants signed a contract with the city, separate from the project, agreeing not to change the appearance of the facade for seven years.
“This is strictly a contract between the city and Joe and Emily. It does not affect the grant at all,” McClarnon said during the Aug. 14 meeting.
After the initial discussion of the situation, the council instructed Joe and Emily to explore options with Clarinda Heating and Cooling to box in or screen the unit that was already installed so it would blend in with the texture and color of the facade. They were then to meet with the council Aug. 28 to evaluate such a solution.
Due to the size of the box needed to provide proper ventilation of the air conditioner, council member Gary Alger said Wednesday he believed that option only made the problem worse.
“As far as the box, after thinking about this for a few days, I almost think just painting the unit itself would not look as bad as the way it is,” Alger said.
“That was our thought too,” Akers said. “It makes it more noticeable, I think, with the box around it. That was as small as he could make it to disguise all three of the sides.”
Council member Craig Hill agreed the box was not as effective as he hoped.
“When I look on the square from either Cornerstone or Page County (State Bank), the box hides your sign. So I think the box is a no for me. I don’t see it as a positive for you or the facade or the community,” Hill said.
Therefore, council instructed Akers to remove the box and have the unit painted the same color as the facade. She was then asked to return to the next council meeting, Sept. 11, to discuss the effectiveness of that solution.
Since a new solution was proposed Wednesday, the council tabled its decision regarding the issuance of an easement for the improvements. However, if painting the unit proves acceptable, the council could then consider issuing the easement Sept. 11.
“After a while it’s going to be hardly noticed,” Alger said.