Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Enrollment at SIUC Up

Fall enrollment at SIUC up slightly, just a bit  over 2%  Total attendance is up 25 people but freshmen enrollment increased about 2.4% and transfers are up 2.3%. Still really too small to consider significant and, after 10 years of steady decline, 'twill need more than 1 year to show that the university has "turned the corner",

Downtown Master Plan Committee Meets

Tomorrow night at 6 p.m. I have heard quite a bit of talk recently about a proposal to make University Avenue a two street and shift Highway 51 over there, rather than have 51 split onto University and Illinois Avenues as it passes through downtown.

From what I have heard from people who have lived here far longer than I, the reason for splitting 51 onto two one way streets was the amount of truck traffic using 51 both north and southbound. Having all those trucks funneled down a single two way street not only damaged the pavement, meaning more frequent street repairs, but also made driving and walking in downtown much more dangerous, since large trucks bore down from both directions. Unless a solution is proposed to deal with those problems, the current street layout is likely best for now.

Both the Endswell development in the Walnut Street Baptist Church building and the Carbondale Flats project will strain downtown parking more. From what I have heard, the research done by Tartan, the Carbondale Flats developer, indicates that the parking developments for that area will be enough to satisfice the needs of Carbondale Flats residents. However, there appears no plan in place for any additional parking for the residents of the building. With Civic Center parking already tight for events, something will need to be done.

Trains, trucks, busses, bikes and automobiles are up for discussion at the next meeting of the Downtown Advisory Committee. Increase parking lots or build parking garages? Two way streets on Illinois and University? Slow down traffic? Close off the street for festivals? Too many trucks? Angle parking in front of businesses?  Bike lanes…what about handicapped?

We’re discussing ANY question or idea you have about the Downtown Carbondale streets. We will share the latest information about developments from IDOT and other agencies. Come at 6:00 p.m. for informal conversation with members of the Committee.

Press are welcome to mingle and interview during the informal gathering at 6:00 p.m.

The theme of transportation modes will be presented by SIUC Sustainability Coordinator Chris Schachel. The issue of traffic flow in the downtown area will be discussed by Carbondale businessman Nathan Colombo. Parking and public safety will be addressed by Meghan Cole, Executive Director of Main Street.

We’re meeting at the old Illinois Central Depot at the corner of Main Street and Illinois Avenue on Wednesday night, September 3. The official meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., but please come early.

In the event that attendance exceeds the allowable occupancy at the Carbondale Main Street Offices, the meeting will relocate across the street in the Civic Center located at 200 South Illinois Avenue.

Agenda

 Carbondale Downtown Master Plan Advisory Committee
Agenda for Meeting of September 3, 2014 Commencing at 6:30 p.m.
Carbondale Main Street Offices at Old Train Station
Interest Area: Transportation
1. Bring to order
2. Roll Call and member/facilitator introductory remarks
3. City Staff presentation: ongoing transportation projects, actions, and plans
4. Current transportation issues as seen by the theme organizers
a. Transportation modes (Kris Schachel)
b. Flow of traffic in the downtown area (Nathan Columbo)
c. Parking and public safety (Meghan Cole)
5. Comments from the public
6. Brief recess
7. Comments from the committee members
8. Summary of major recommended actions and member selection
9. Approval of minutes
10. Review of mission statement
11. Announcement of next meeting, date, time and location
12. Adjournment
In the event that attendance exceeds the allowable occupancy at the Carbondale Main Street Offices, the meeting will relocate across the street in the Civic Center located at 200 South Illinois Avenue.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Business Opening (Kinda)

New online business based here in Carbondale will have a ribbon cutting this Saturday.  Hard to call it an opening since the event is taking place in the Old Train Depot building:

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Classroom and Board, a Carbondale-based online business at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept.6. The ceremony will be part of an open house and kick-off party for the business, and will be held in the meeting room of the Chamber’s office at 131 S. Illinois Ave.

Classroom and Board is an online source for ready-to-use educational bulletin boards and components for classrooms, university and college residence halls, churches workplaces and more. All of the products can be customized to buyer’s specifications and include free shipping. The company can be found online at www.classroomandboard.com.

Representatives of the Chamber, City and the business will participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the public.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Endswell

I took a drive around northeast Carbondale to look at some of the homes Endswell has built in the area in the past few years.  Though none of them are the apartment complex that the developer plans to for the Walnut Street Baptist Church building, all of the properties are very nice single family dwellings:




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Walnut Street Baptist Church

Walnut Street Baptist Church from the parking lot. Streets run directly in front of the church and to the right of the flat roofed addition, making it quite hard for a growing church to expand in any direction. From what I have heard, the addition on the right will be relatively easy to renovate into apartments. It is the older church building proper that will prove difficult as it will need extensive gutting.

I gather that the tax credits and financing Endswell wants from the state are contingent on the building keeping 20 of the apartments for lower income residents, with two at market rate. However, after fifteen years, all of the apartments may be rented out at market rate.

A major problem with the location is the lack of parking. The Civic Center already has problems with not enough parking for some events and adding the new development will put a strain on the already limited number of spaces. A couple of possibilities are for the city to rent or buy the old Verizon lot just west of Univeristy or, a more expensive alternative, build a multi-level parking lot next to the civic center.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Low Income Housing Proposal Approved

It looks as if city council approved supporting Endswell's proposed redeveloping of the Walnut Street Baptist Church building for low income housing with 8000 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

The next stage apparently is approaching the state for funding and tax credits and Endswell needs support shown from the community before the state will award funding. Unfortunate that this is not a viable project without some form of tax incentive.

Carbondale Tourism Ribbon Cutting

Today at 4 p.m.:

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting at Carbondale Tourism Bureau’s new location, 4 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 27. The tourism office and welcome center recently moved to a new location at 126 S. Illinois Ave.

Carbondale Tourism is a not-for-profit organization responsible for marketing the community as a tourist destination, for serving and welcoming visitors and for coordinating tourism-related activities and efforts. The ribbon cutting is part of a open house for the bureau.

Representatives of the Chamber, City and Carbondale Tourism will participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the public.