Friday, August 31, 2012

Stadium Grille Sold

The long closed (well, two years and two months) Stadium Grille property has just sold, according to city manager Kevin Baity. Buyer is the Bandanas BBQ chain.  The chain typically repurposes already existing buildings, only adding its signature sheet metal awnings to the exterior.  No idea how much the building sold for, though asking price originally was $1.6 million.  Bandanas did pay cash for the building and equipment, though apparently not enough to repay the loan to the city the loan the original owners got from the city.

Bandana's tentatively plans to have the restaurant up and running by this Thanksgiving (2012).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SISA Closed

A blog reader pointed out that the Carbondale SISA location on West Main has closed or moved as there is a large "For Lease" sign on the building.  The website indicates that the Marion showroom and West Frankfort distribution center remain open.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Splash Park Projections

Thanks to a reader of the blog, here are the Carbondale Park District's projected revenues and expenses for the proposed Splash Park.  No indication as to the source of the projected revenues.

500 West Walnut

 Photo courtesy the Arbor District

From second hand information, Home Rentals' plans for its recently acquired property at 500 West Walnut is to maintain it as a single family residence/rental.  The company has looked at the growth of the medical industry in the area and believes, with suitable renovations, it would make an ideal rental for medical professionals moving to the area.  The plan, according to what I understand, it to rent it for a year to new doctors working at one of the hospitals or clinics in the area, while they find or build permanent residences in the area.

Home Rentals has listed the property on its website as available for rent as a residential property at $2950  per month and does specify it is in a area zoned R-1.  However, it also lists the property as having 6-7 bedrooms, making it quite a bit larger that most families would need.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Police Pension Meeting

Given all the concern about pensions in the state today, wanted to call attention to the Police Pension Board meeting at 1:30 today, Aug 28th at City Hall:

City of Carbondale Police Pension Board of Trustees
Meeting Agenda
August 28, 2012, 01:30 P.M.
City Hall Finance Department Conference Room
1.     Call to Order
2.     Roll Call
3.     Acknowledgement of Guests
4.     Treasurers Report
5.     Minutes from previous meeting
6.     Unfinished Business:
7.     New Business: Pay Bills, Discuss Pending litigation, Training issues, Medical re-evaluations of disability pensioners under 50, investments, and any and all items brought to the Board’s attention that require immediate action.
8.     Set next meeting date
9.     Adjournment

Students Are Back And Ready To Party

As the DE reported yesterday, and the Arbor District passed along, a party at the corner of Walnut and James Street attracted an estimated 700 and  ended with the police called in about 2 a.m Sunday morning., using tear gas to break up a fight between two women before others got involved.

Update:  The police department has more here.  Apparently, there have been complaints by those involved about police bodyslamming attendees against cars  while breaking up the party, with one woman arrested for aggravated battery to a police officer.   If you are attending a party this size, and it gets raucous enough that the police need to use tear gas to get things under control, and you don't want to get body slammed against a vehicle, getting out of the area is probably a good idea.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Possible Zoning Issues

According to a mailing sent out by the Arbor District, the huge 2-story house on the northwest corner of Walnut and Poplar (cattycorner to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church), has sold to Home Rentals and there is already a "For Rent" sign on the lawn ( I happened to notice that just yesterday and was rather surprised, since I had never seen the house for rent before.  As you can see from the city's zoning map, the house is in an area zoned R-1, low density residential, meaning it should be occupied by a single household.  Not sure if it falls within the West Walnut Street Historic District, but if not, it is pretty close.  Of course, that hasn't stopped some other buildings within the district from use as multi person rentals as well.

Since the majority of Home Rentals's customers are students and most of the houses on West Walnut east of the property are already multi household rentals, as are several of the houses in the same block on West Main, behind the property, it will be interesting to see if the city enforces the zoning code there, or if the property succumbs to "zoning creep".

Update:  I have been informed by a blog reader that 500 W Walnut does fall inside the West Walnut Street Historic District.

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Buisness?

See some remodeling going on at the former Esther's Clothing.  Walls are getting repainted and the inside getting cleaned out so maybe a new tenant.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The police are asking for help in identifying the two gentlemen shown in the photo here. The are wanted for shoplifting merchandise from a store at 1700 West Main

Club Traz Name Change

No indication as to why, but Club Traz has posted on its Facebook page that the club's name will/has changed to Two 13 (not coincidentally, the street address of the club).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City Council Meeting

The city council meets tonight at 7 p.m.  Not a lot on the agenda but I expect what is on there to produce a lot of discussion.  Up after the warrants is the contract for funding between the city and the reconstituted Convention and Tourism Bureau (Notice:  I sit on the board).  The board is requesting $75,000 from the city in order to have funds to hire both an interim and a permanent executive director for the CCTB as well as pay outstanding bills.  Once the CCTB has this amount on hand, it can then request matching funds from the state.  The major sticking point in the contract is likely the city's stipulation that the CCTB have a fully functioning website up and running within 90 days.  While the CCTB does have a website, and its functionality was one of the complaints laid against the previous CCTB, getting it to the level stipulated by the city in the contract within 90 days would be pretty difficult.

Next on the agenda is an ordinance allowing video poker terminals, and similar games that pay out free games or credits redeemable for cash, in establishments that have a liquor license.  I think we will see a lot of discussion on this but that it will pass.

Water and sewer fee updates are again on the agenda as well as approving a feasibility study expanding the TIF district to include more of downtown.  I expect that one to pass with minimal discussion.

Monday, August 20, 2012

K&M Printing Damaged

Notice in the window of the old K&M Printing building at 219 West Main that the building has suffered structural damage and only those authorized are allowed inside.  The notice also makes reference to "salvage" and the remodeling permit is still displayed as well, so not certain what is going on there.  'twould be very hard to do anything structurally to the exterior of the building as the Icebox Bar and Grill is only a alley's width away and the tattoo shop is in an adjoining building.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More on President Posahrd's Presentation

The presentation was pretty much a litany of reasons why the university has not grown since it peaked in the early 1990s.  Among the reasons given:

almost all Illinois state universities (excepting UI) saw declines in attendance over the past few years.

the counties in southern Illinois around SIUC have all seen population declines, while those around SIUE have seen population increases.

the counties in southern Illinois around SIUC have all seen declines in high school graduates and few of those graduates choose to come to SIUC ( I remember parents of Carbondale high school students earlier this decade telling me that, while most of the college files in the guidance councilor's office were bursting with paperwork, SIUC's has a single page in it.  When I asked President Poshard about this after his speech, he said the university had done a poor job of reaching out to local high schools but were working on improving).

increased recruiting by schools from the states surrounding southern Illinois.

continued declines in state funding since 2002.

no reimbursement for veteran's support functions for the past two years.

lack of spending by the university on promotion of itself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

President Poshard on SIUC

Had the opportunity to attend Glenn Poshard's presentation to the Chamber of Commerce on the status of SIUC.  It's not good.  I will post details later but the general gist is that the university has taken hits from all sides in terms of customers, competition, and funding.  One thing I found particularly interesting was Poshard's last slide which looked at what the city could do to increase attendance. His two points were safety and beautification.  He believes that high schools and universities in other areas that the school could recruit from still view SIUC as a party school and parents may view the city as unsafe.  Neighborhood Scout certainly thinks so.

Apparently Poshard's beautification rap on the city comes from his perception of Hwy 13 east of the city as littered and trashy, not presenting a good image for parents and their children entering the city from that direction, which most do.    That's the first I time I have heard anyone comment on excessive litter on the east side of town.  From his speech, I gather Poshard wants civic minded citizens to spend time on Hwy 13 east cleaning up the roadside.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Money for Pool

Mayor Fritzler sent out the following press release expanding on his proposal to give $100,000 in city funding to fund the proposed CPD Aquatics Center:

Carbondale Mayor Joel Fritzler Proposes $100,000 contribution to Aquatic Center

During last night’s meeting of the Carbondale City Council, Mayor Joel Fritzler proposed that the City of Carbondale contribute a total of $100,000 towards the matching grant the Carbondale Park District received for their Outdoor Aquatic Center project.  Mayor Fritzler said that he was inspired by the success of the Park District’s recent fundraiser and the encouraging show of support by the community for the aquatic center.

The City Council had previously reallocated $10,000 to the project from funds for promoting tourism.  The additional $90,000 would also come from these funds dedicated to promote and market the City of Carbondale.  Mayor Fritzler would like for the new board of the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau to decide whether the funds are contributed over the next two or three years.  The Mayor said, “We have saved some money over the last few months while discussing the future of tourism in Carbondale so, we could make a $50,000 contribution this year and $25,000 during the next two years.”

“This is a win-win project for Carbondale and the Southern Illinois region.  Residents have been wanting and asking for an outdoor pool for generations so, I know that they will step up to the plate (or diving board) and write a check.” For more information about the project, call the Carbondale Park District at 529-4147.

Given that the status of the Convention and Tourism Bureau is currently in flux, with a new board meeting to reconstitute the organization  and that the city council pulled funding from District 95's summer reading program last year, saying the money could be spent better on more immediate needs, like the new fire station (still not started), it is hard to justify directing city funds towards this project.  As the mayor himself said last year:

(Mayor Fritzler) said with the current economy issues, the council cannot afford to fund every program. He said there’s a long list of community projects that need to be completed such as new streets and that should be the priority.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

City Council 8/7/2012

Moderately unexciting city council meeting tonight.   The LCC approved the Class F1 liquor license  for the Southern Illinois Irish Festival, then the council approved the various organizations seeking Fair Days (allowing the sale of alcohol at an event) designation.

There was some discussion on the proposal putting the question of electric aggregation on the ballot this fall, which passed.   As I understand it, a yes vote on the referendum will allow the city to enter into a contract for the city's electricity with an electricity aggregator, which may save the city and residents several cents per killowatt used. If the proposal passes, the city would negotiate with an aggregator to secure a favorable rate for residents and small businesses in the city.  Once established, from my reading, residents would have to "opt out" of the program or be "opted in" by default.

Two zoning requests came up next, one to rezone property at 401 N. Glenview from Business and Residential to all Planned Business.  After some concern, expressed by Don Monty, about extending business zoning into a residential area, the rezoning request passed.

The second one, a request to rezone property on Widdows Lane from General Agriculture to Rural Residential, sparked much more controversy as several of  the residents of Widdows Lane spoke against the rezoning.  The applicant wished to rezone the property so as to sell 1 acre for a house, retaining the other 14 acres as agricultural.  Several people spoke against the rezoning, fearing that, while the current property owner only wanted to add one house to the parcel, future owners might opt to build additional house, disrupting the atmosphere for which the current residents moved to Widdows Lane and increasing traffic along a road not designed for it.  After quite a bit of discussion, council voted to deny the rezoning request.

The council also considered a request from the water and sewer department to, among other things, increase the security deposit for water and sewer services.  The city noted that, while water and sewer rates had risen several times since the 1990s, the amount of the security deposit had remained the same since 1998. The current security deposit of $65 does not cover the average cost of one month's service.  Also under consideration were increasing the reconnect fee as the current $20 charge does not cover the costs associated with reconnecting a home.  Corine McDaniels, especially, was opposed to increasing the costs as she felt it would create an undue hardship on lower income residents of the community, especially students.  Due to some questions about vagueness in wording, the item was withdrawn from consideration and sent back to city staff for more revision.

Council next moved on to a proposal to increase towing fees associated with cars towed as a result of violations of the law.  Proposed administrative fees were $200 for tows associated with misdemeanors and $400 for those associated with a felony.  The police department estimated such fees would generate $125,000 per year, which would help replace squad cars and other police equipment.  Several council members thought the fees were quite high and citizen comments were split,with one person speaking in favor and one against.  Council eventually voted 4-3 ( I think, it was getting late) in favor of adopting the new fees.

Monday, August 6, 2012

City Council and LCC

The Liquor Control Commission meets tomorrow, followed by the City Council.  Not much on the LCC agenda, the main thing appears a request for a F-1 Liquor License by the Southern Illinois Irish Festival in October.  Looks as if there are several rezoning requests on the city council's agenda as well as a proposal to put a vote for the change in the provider of the city's electricity on the fall ballot.

It looks as if Kevin Baity and the city staff were not able to put together a rush tourism bureau proposal as there is no reference to any vote on the subject on the agenda,

Friday, August 3, 2012

Esther's Clothing Gone

Esther's Clothing (at least that is what it was called at one time), has vacated their premises in the 200 block of West Main and there is a "For Rent" sign in the window.  After the state made them remove the side walk sign they had in front of the store, the owners never bothered to put any signage out, even on the illuminated sign over the door.  While word of mouth works great for getting people in a store, even it can only do so much.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tourism part 13

In case you missed the city council meeting last night, and from the number of empty seats, a lot of people did, the Council spent 2 hours discussing what do do about the lack of a tourism bureau and eventually decided ask City Manager Kevin Baity and city staff to recreate the Convention and Tourism Bureau in such a form that the newly reconstituted entity retains certification and the $60,000 grant from the state.  Council directed Baity to have a proposal ready for the next council meeting but since that is August 7, the August 21 meeting date is more likely.  Under state law, Baity would only have 48 hours to hammer out a contract in order to get it posted with enough advanced notice for the August 7 meeting.

Early on in the 2 hour meeting, Chris Wissmann strongly advanced reasons for turning over tourism duties in toto to Southernmost Illinois but the weight of the rest of the council was against him.  Corine McDaniels pushed strongly for reconstituting the existing bureau under city control with the organization committing to assume the roughly $30,000 in debt accumulated by the old Bureau, which, if the discussion by the council carries through, will be retired by city funds.

The city reconstituting the Bureau is also contingent upon the members of the current BoT of the Bureau resigning, which interim executive director Richard Wright said would happen by the end of the week, with the exception of Councilman Wissmann. The seven people nominated to the board by Mayor Fritzler last April (note:  I am one of them), would then assume seats on the new board and start a search for a new executive director, likely first appointing another interim director.

The Carbondale Observer has some thoughts on the topic