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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walnut Street Baptist Church Repurposing

Jane Adams has some comments on her blog regarding the proposed conversion of the Walnut Street Baptist Church into a block of 22 apartments, 20 for low income residents and 2 for rent at market rate:

 
After 92 years in the heart of Downtown, the Walnut Street Baptist Church is moving west, to a site near Midland Inn. The church building is on Carbondale’s Register of Historic Places, and shares its parking lot with the Civic Center.

A St. Louis company, Endswell, wants to develop the property as a 22-unit apartment building to be called the “Downtown Lofts.” The redevelopment will be expensive, and they believe that without Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) support they will not be able to undertake the project. Endswell needs a letter of support from the Mayor to be eligible for IHDA support.

The IHDA provides Low Income Housing Tax Credits as well as loans for limited income housing. In this development, I understand that Endswell proposes to keep 2 units market rate; the remaining 22 would be limited income.


I would be much happier with the project if the numbers were the other way around: 20 apartments at market rate and 2 for low income but I gather Endswell could not apply for IHDA support without a significant percentage of the apartments targets to limited income occupants, meaning that the facility would likely not be profitable on its own merits.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hardee's

Though the last two Hardee's in Carbondale, one on the east side and one on the west, closed several years ago, there are rumors floating about that a new Hardee's will open in the empty DiMaggio's pizza location.Though I would prefer a non-chain restaurant to open there, I don't eat out much as it is so mine is not the voice they should listen to as the chain appear doing quite well in Carbondale.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Four Council Seats Open

In case you might be interested in running for city council, four seats come open next year. From an email sent out by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce:



    • The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce encourages members of the business community to consider serving our community in this way. Four seats on the City Council will be up for election in 2015:
      • Councilwoman Jane Adams
      • Councilman Lance Jack
      • Councilwoman Corene McDaniel
      • Acting Mayor Don Monty

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Carbonale Tourism Ribbon Cutting

    Next Wednesday at 4 p.m. Press release makes no mention of free food though:

    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.

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    More on Chief O'Guinn's Firing

    The Carbondale Times has a long look at the current situation surrounding the firing of Jody O'Guinn, while the Southern looks at the situation from O'Guinn's viewpoint. Meanwhile, Interim chief Jeff Grubbs, who held the position once before 2008-2009 says the department will take things one step at a time.

    I did speak briefly with Grubbs Tuesday evening and he repeated that the department will take things slowly in the wake of O'Guinn's firing. When I asked him if he planed to seek the position permanently, he smiled and said it was way too early to even think about such a thing.

    Here's an audio interview by Monica Zukas with the  parents of Molly Young and Pravin Varughese after the announcement of O'Guinn's firing. In case you don't want to sit through it, both families are quite happy O'Guinn is gone but feel the police department needs further investigation.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Meyer Networks Ribbon Cutting

    In case you are looking for something to do around 4 p.m. today, Meyer Networks is having a ribbon cutting to celebrate its merger with 1187 Creative:

    The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting and Business After Hours Celebration at Mayer Networks, 4 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 20. The business is located 608 Eastgate Drive in Carbondale.
    Mayer Networks recently announced a merger with Carbondale-based 1187 Creative. Wednesday’s events are in celebration of the merger. Food, including barbecue, hot dogs and hamburgers, and beverages will be available. Children’s activities are also planned.

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

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Koppers Cleanup Update

    For those following the cleanup at the old Koppers railroad tie manufacturing plant, even more important now because of the desire of Brightfields to install a solar array there for energy production, here is the most recent status report on the cleanup. Beezer is the company handling the actual cleanup:

    On July 14, 2014, Beazer submitted to USEPA tables and a figure summarizing available soil sample
    data for the railroad property and 35-foot Beazer-owned swath located south of the Site.

     On July 28, 2014, Beazer submitted to USEPA a Human Health Risk Assessment Work Plan.

     On July 29, 2014, USEPA responded to questions received from the Concerned Carbondale Citizens.

     On July 30, 2014, Beazer and Brightfields conducted a public information session for solar land use at
    the Site.

     Beazer, USEPA and others participated in corrective action coordination conference calls on July 11
    and 24, 2014.

     Beazer continued post-construction OMM activities (e.g., DNAPL thickness measurements/removal,
    CAMU leachate monitoring/removal, Site inspections, etc.).

     Beazer collected approximately 70 gallons of DNAPL from the barrier trench and approximately 20
    gallons of DNAPL from recovery well RW-23 during this reporting period. The approximate total
    DNAPL volumes collected through July 2014 are 18,321 gallons from the barrier trench and 7,438
    gallons from RW-23.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Chief O'Guinn Dismissed

    Just got this email from the city manager's office.  Wow!

    Effective Monday, August 18 at 9:00 a.m., I am dismissing Jody O'Guinn as Chief of Police for the City of Carbondale. Chief O'Guinn has served the City since June 2009. As of now, no timeline has been established for finding his successor.”

    "I am naming Deputy Chief Jeff Grubbs to serve as Interim Police Chief. I have full faith and confidence in Deputy Chief Grubbs' ability to lead the Carbondale Police Department,” Baity states. “I want to stress that my decision to dismiss Chief O'Guinn is a confidential matter and has nothing to do with the unsolved cases or recent litigation filed against the City and the Chief. Any assumptions/allegations to this effect are completely unfounded."

    Downtown Advistory Committee Members

    Below, courtesy of an email sent by councilwoman Jane Adams, is the list of members of the Downtown Advisory Committee mentioned last week:

    Jack Langowski – Chairman
    Bob Bleyer – Bank Of Carbondale
    Dan Boeckman – SIH
    Marie Bukowski – Director of the School of Art and Design SIU
    Sally Carter – Owner of Hangar 9
    Meghan Cole – Director of Carbondale Main Street
    Nathan Colombo – Marketing Consultant
    D. Gorton – Photojournalist and property owner
    Kristin Gregory – Former Executive Director of Carbondale Chamber of Commerce
    Adrian Miller – SIU student
    Melissa Parson – Owner of Pagliai’s Pizza
    Stephanie Pink-Harper – Political Science Professor SIU
    Elaine Ramseyer – General Manager of Long Branch CafĂ© and Bakery
    Pradeep Reddy – Pediatrician and property owner
    Kris Schachel – Sustainability Director SIU
    George Sheffer – Owner of Murdale True Value
    Jason Sigler – Marketing Director for High Line Ideas
    Dan Terry – Restaurateur and property developer

    The committee will have no direct control over the upcoming developmental plan for downtown as the city plans to hire a professional firm to write it, hopefully with input from the committee. Not sure why the city doesn't want to have someone from SIUC develop the plan as someone from the university would have a much more intimate understanding of the community than an outside firm.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    Carbondale Dairy Queen

    The downtown Dairy Queen is likely one of the oldest, if not the oldest still operating business in Carbondale, opening its doors in 1952. The iconic neon sign went up at the same time and is one of the last original DQ neons in the country.  Most popular item on the menu, the Blizzard.

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting

    With 19 people on the Downtown Advisory Committee, I seriously doubt that anything will get accomplished beyond a lot of talking. While I believe that all involved want to improve downtown Carbondale, each person brings a different agenda/view of what they want to happen downtown and, while many of those views are congruent, they are going to different enough that bringing a final report will be difficult.I would bet we see at least one disgruntled committee member complaining about the outcome.
    The size of the committee reflects the many groups that have a stake in the downtown area.

    The Downtown Advisory Committee will hold its initial meeting at the Civic Center on August 20 at 6:30 PM. The session will be a broad look at the ideas that the public and members of the committee bring forward to improve our Downtown. Additional sessions will follow every two weeks, focusing on different topics such as transportation, business development, and the interface between SIU/SIH.
    The last effort to develop a Downtown Master Plan for Carbondale was completed in 1989. Significant recommendations that were enacted by the City of Carbondale:  City Hall was consolidated and the new Civic Center was built.  The Town Square was rehabilitated and the Old Illinois Central Railroad Station was restored. The city implemented a railroad underpass on Mill Street that has helped alleviate long lines of traffic going east and west. 
    The Carbondale City Council has directed that extensive public participation be encouraged from the residents, business owners and developers, as well as input from visitors to the city. 
    “We plan to seek participation from all our constituents”, said Jack Langowski, Committee Chair. “We are scheduling a series of six or more meetings, up front, and before we engage a consulting firm.  This will allow us to develop our own local plan for the consultant to act on, and not the reverse. We don’t want an off-the-shelf plan for Downtown”.
    All 18 members of the committee are volunteers who care about Carbondale and are working to generate the best plan for downtown development.  The committee also invites interested citizens to follow their progress on their web page at www.downtowncarbondale.com… and to get in touch with the committee at downtownplan@ci.carbondale.il.us

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Planning Commison Cancelled

    Apparently enough planning commission members are out of town or otherwise unavailable that the commission could not form a quorum tonight, so the meeting has been cancelled and rescheuled for September 3:

    The Planning Commission meeting scheduled for tonight, August 13, at 6:00p.m. has unfortunately been cancelled due to the unavailability of Commission members which would result in the lack of a quorum.  The meeting will be rescheduled for September 3 at 6:00p.m.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  Thank You,

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    Another Ribbon Cutting

    Wow, two ribbon cuttings in one week, make that one day. No indication that S&B's will offer samples on Friday, though

    The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting at S&B’s Burger Joint at 2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 15. The business is located in University Mall.
    S&B’s serves up fresh gourmet burgers and sliders as well as offering a full-service bar, delicious homemade pies, floats and more in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
    Representatives of the Chamber, City and business will participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the public.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Saluki Screen Repair

    Saluki Screen Repair is having a ribbon cutting this Friday at their storefront in the Grand Avenue Mall.  Amazing how many people manage to break their screens so that a business can target this market:

    The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting at 11:30 a.m., Friday at Saluki Screen Repair. The business is located 859 E. Grand Ave.
    Saluki Screen Repair is owned by Pryor Jordan and offers repair for cellular telephones, tablets and laptops. The ribbon cutting is in honor of the business’ new location.
    Representatives of the Chamber, City and business will participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the public.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Thai Taste Update

    It appears this morning's post was a bit premature as Thai Taste now has a sign in the window saying they will reopen on Monday August 11.

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Thai Taste Reopens

    For those who have missed your weekly Thai fix, Thai Taste should finish their remodeling today and be open regular hours.  I will be happy to stop seeing people parking in the depot parking lot, hurrying over to the restaurant and turn away disappointed. I even saw one couple try the door, as if they didn't believe the sign.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Top Party Schools

    Here's a top 20 list the SIUC administration is likely glad it no longer places on:  the top 20 party schools in the US.  UI-Champaign Urbana does come in at #5 though

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    SIUC Monorail

    I had always thought that SIUC's layout planned to incorporate a monorail system was just a campus legend, used to explain the two white pylons west of Morris Library. Turns out there actually was a proposal to encircle campus with such a system.

    From talking with a retired campus employee over the weekend, the original plan for the campus was ton have minimal parking available in the interior of campus, huge amounts of parking at the south end of campus, accounting for the huge parking lot by the Arena, with the monorail servicing the rest of campus quickly and quietly.

    Unfortunately, putting a monorail system in place now would cause too much disruption to the campus so will likely never happen.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    SIUC Turning the Corner

    Caught on WSIU this morning that the university saw its lowest ever total enrollment last year, just under 18,000 total but President Randy Dunn says that the feeling is the university has turned the corner. As I have said before, the university has turned the corner so many times it is back at the starting line.

    It is really not that hard to figure out what needs to be done to fix the university's problems:

    1.  Hire the best instructors the university can afford
    2. Raise the standard for admissions
    3. Look for programs and degrees that are not offered or well served at other institutions and offer them.

    It is easy for me to say what needs to be done, implementation is hard after 25+ years of chasing any and all students and trying to become another University of Illinois. Instead, focus on the things that brought the university to national renown from the 1940s through the 1970s.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Lawsuit in Varughese Death

    According to this article in the American Bazaar, Pravin Varughese's family will file two lawsuits for $1 million each, one against the city for alleged incompetency of the police force, and one against Gaege Bethune, the man who gave Varughese a ride the night of his death and from whose car Varughese fled after a struggle.

    In the column, Varughese's mother accuses Carbondale police of botching the investigation and indicates she believes Bethune is guilty of murdering her son.

    Main Street Plaza Gone

    Main Street Plaza, the little gift shop on the first floor of the Newell Building on East Main Street quietly shut down in the past week or so. The sign is gone and the space is empty with no indication that it relocated.

    Main Street Plaza opened last year but never seemed to generate much traffic or engage in activities to draw customers in.  Maybe it did, but if so, they were not very well publicized.