Friday, October 30, 2015

University Open in Spring

Good to know that SIUC will be open next spring. Sad commentary on the state of the budget that Dunn found it necessary to make such an announcement

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jen's Joe

Jen's Joe, familiar to those who patronize the Murdale Farmer's Market and several locations around C'dale, has opened their own shop in the Julia Building at the corner of Walnut and University. The shop, which opened in partnership with EClaire's Salon and shares the same space and hours, serves one hot coffee offering a day and the company's merchandise, including the only locally roasted coffee, during business hours.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Downtown Businesses

Two women's clothing boutiques opened this fall in the literal shadow of the Evolve Apartments. Both target college age women, which apparently a good chunk of the residents of Evolve are as most of the members of one sorority have moved onto a floor in the complex. Dare to Be..., the shop closest to Illinois Avenue, opened at the start of the semester and, from what I have heard, sold through most of its initial stock within the first week or so of business.

Katina's Boutique only opened about two weeks ago and I have not heard how business has been there.

Dare to Be...has posted a video on YouTube showing off their fashions and the young women wearing them, as well as several S. Illinois streetscapes.

Haunted Carbondale--Oakland Cemetary

Oakland Cemetary, located alongside the railroad tracks on the northwest edge of Carbondale, has long had a reputation for hauntings, with strange critters lurking in the woods along side the grounds and a mausoleum with a door prone to opening on occasion.  The most consistent sightings, however, are of balls of light seen floating along the abandoned railway abutting the north side of the cemetery, possibly related to the train wreck  there in the 1880s. If you do pay a visit there, please remember that the cemetery grounds close at dusk.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkin Display

In case you are looking for something Halloweeeny to do Wednesday night, check out the architectural pumpkin display at the Buckministrer Fuller  Dome Home. From the press release:

A unique Architecture Jack-o-lantern Display will bring Halloween beauty, warmth and whimsy to the steps of the Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome Home at 407 S. Forest on Wednesday, October 28, 6:30 until 8:00 p.m. SIUC Architecture students will present 70 different architectures from around the world carved into lighted pumpkins. This stunning display for all ages is not to be missed!
 Costumes are welcome, but optional.  For more information: Jon Davey 618 559 8931

Downtown Parking

I talk about downtown parking quite a bit so wanted to post about the work  on the public parking behind Reema's Indian Cuisine. The top photo gives an overall view of the Evolve apartments and the Mill Street and University Ave. intersection. The bottom photo shows the work the city is doing upgrading the parking area behind Reema's. From what I understand, in exchange for the easement across Reema's property,  the city will perform maintenance on the parking on Reema's property as well. Unfortunately, access to this parking from the north end is more difficult, as drivers have to steer around the Sidetrack's building or make a 90 degree turn into an alley to access it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

EClaire Salon Moved

EClaire has moved from its location on the first floor of the Island Building to the Julia Building at the corner of Walnut and University. Primary reason for the move, I would guess in the much larger and non-metered parking space the salon shares with CCA and the First Christian Church. The recent removal of the meters in the much reduced parking area in front of Quatro's and Jerry's, coupled with the increased towing of non-customers, likely made it much harder on EClair's attract customers at the old location.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Unofficial Halloween

According to this article in the Southern, Unofficial Halloween came and went with no noticeable disruption to the city, expect in local business cash registers. I spoke to a couple of people I know who work at Memorial Hospital and they said no noticeable increase in patients beyond a normal weekend night, save for maybe a dozen DUI brought in. I saw quite a few people in costume walking in the Arbor District in costume on during that weekend but no notable crowds early in the evening, though the Daily Egyptian indicates downtown was quite crowded later in the evening.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More on the Shawnee Parkway

Citizens for Southermost Illinois sent out this email with more info about the proposed Shawnee Parkway, which would replace the now dormant I 66 Corridor. Most of it is general but spending $4.5 million on a study just seems an abhorent waste of money:

Government Waste: $4.5 million dollars just to study a feasible route. In 2011, Cape Girardeau initiated receipt of a federal grant to study the purpose and need for a multi-lane highway primarily to serve the trucking industry between Cape Girardeau, MO and Paducah, KY.
Loss of Private and Public Land: Acquired through eminent domain, thousands of acres of farm and forest land, as well as private residences will be removed from the tax rolls. This will not only impact private and public land, but could result in restricted drainage and increase flooding.
Drain to Local Economy: Business and jobs continue to be lost in the area and the addition of another multi-lane highway will add to this exodus. Local businesses owners have indicated that the proposed highway will detrimentally impact their operation by taking potential customers away from the area.
Incompatibility with Tourism & Outdoor Recreation: The biologically rich and diverse environment of Southernmost Illinois has made it a destination with a reputation for high quality outdoor recreation experiences such as hunting, fishing, bird watching, canoeing, hiking, nature photography and much more. The environmental and aesthetic impacts of this proposed highway will have dire consequences for the natural resource and agri-tourism-based recreation and economy of the region.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Downtown Development

The development of the old American Tap location is coming along. From what I understand, the plan to put apartments above the retail space failed to work out but I was surprised at how quickly the build in is coming along.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Chief of Police Bloomington Illinois

The police chief of Bloomington Illinois, Brendan Heffner, received about $130,000 as an annual salary upon his hiring in 2013 with a city population of about 79,000 at the time. This is more than, as a reader of the blog noted, several state governors make.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Grubbs' Contract

According to an article in today's Carbondale Times, the city renegotiated Chief Jeff Grubbs' contract with the city as police chief. According to the Times, which you will have to pick up (for free) around town, the new contract eliminates the annual housing allowance Grubbs was to receive to cover expenses of moving into town to comply with Carbondale's ordinances regarding city residence for top level employees.

However, and there had to be a "however", the new contract now increases Grubbs pay to $125,700 from the previous base of 108,000. Under the previous contract, base pay plus housing allowance, by my calculations, came to $123,000, meaning that the renegotiated contract will cost the city an extra $2700 per year.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Haunted Carbondale- Hundley House

For those interested in such things and given the season, here is a nice write up on the history of the Hundley House murders and hauntings.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Road Closure

For those of you that use Charles Road, a notice from the city:

Due to wastewater collection system repairs, Charles Road before the intersection of Route 51, will be closed starting on Monday, October 19, 2015 at 7:00 a.m. and will remain in place until Friday, October 23, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.

The City apologizes for any inconvenience that this closure may cause and urges all vehicular traffic to use alternate routes during this time period.

If you have any questions, please call Sean Pickford, City of Carbondale Civil Engineer III at 457-3270.

New Contract

City council will vote on an amended contract for Chief Jeff Grubbs at the next meeting. No indication in the store as to what is in it. Usually, contracts for city officials are worked out between the hire and city manager but enough people raised questions about the contract negotiated between departed city manager Kevin Baity and Chief Grubbs that I imagine the city council wanted imput on it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aban Kitchen Open

Aban Kitchen, located in the old Mary Lou's location on Illinois, opened Labor Day and has been doing quite well it seems, especially with carry out. Closed on Sunday, open 1 to 10 p.m. the rest of the week, save for Friday when they open at 2 p.m. They have both a breakfast menu with items such as Mogulgul and Shukshooka and a dinner menu with items running a bit higher. Items on both menus are offered all day though. Reviews of the food have been quite good

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Live On Main Concert

Saw in the Southern today that I underestimated the number of attendees at last Friday's Live on Main concert (which should technically be called Live on Illinois but why quibble). According to today's paper, estimated attendance was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 people or not quite double my estimate of 3000.  Congratulations to the organizers on a well put together event.

Parking Lot

Learned today that the Verizon parking lot, which I have suggested on several occasions,the city buy to expand parking for the Civic Center and City Hall, has been sold to the First Christian Church just across Monroe to the north. The church plans to sell off the gravel lot it currently uses and will share the Verizon lot with Carbondale Community Arts as well as businesses located in the Julia Building, both of which abut the lot on the south side.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Convention Hotel

Assuming it gets built, the new Hyatt will be a nice addition to downtown but what Carbondale could really use is a hotel with convention facilities. We have not had one with enough space to host a convention since the old Holiday Inn on East Main was shuttered several years ago for all sorts of violations. The Holiday Inn out by Reeds Station Road does have some meeting space but not nearly enough to host a convention of any reasonable size. I looked at it several years ago for an event I was hosted that I expected to draw about 150 to 200 people and could not see any way to fit that number into what the Holiday Inn had available.

Now Carbondale does have plenty of meeting space, both at the Civic Center and at SIUC, but neither has a hotel attached. People attending multi-day events at either have to take lodging elsewhere and arrange for transportation to the facility, not a great selling point when trying to pitch Carbondale as a location to host a large event over multiple days. Like anyone else convention attendees want to travel as little as possible from where they are staying to the meeting facility and Carbondale really does not have a facility to handle such an event.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Live On Main Concert

Stopped by the Live on Main concert tonight that featured Lydia Loveless and starred Jason Isbell. S. Illinois was blocked from the intersection of S. Illinois and West Elm back to the intersection of Illinois and College. The photo, taking about 8:15, is from just south of Hangar 9 looking north to the stage. The crowd, which I estimated at 2000 to 3000 but the people working the gates will have much more accurate numbers, filled S. Illinois from West Cherry, where the state sat, to just past Pagliai's Pizza. However, the area fenced off for the crowd reached back to Old Town Liquors and that section was comparatively empty, though it may have filled after I left.

Crowd looked pretty orderly, likely due to people getting patted down as they entered the concert area and the strong showing of security people around the venue. I did hear reports of a number of rude drunks driving around downtown though, so am hoping no incidents occurred.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Verizon parking

Wondering if the city has looked any further into either leasing or buying the parking space from Verizon that sits at the corner of University and Marion. It would add some much needed parking to downtown, especially with the loss of the spots south of PKs to the proposed Hyatt Suites project.

Additionally,as it is across the street from the civic center, acquiring the space would provide additional parking for civic center events. A shortage of parking at the civic center, especially for major events has been a problem for a number of years.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Live On Main

It looks as if the Live on Main Concert on Friday night will cause surprisingly little disruption to downtown traffic as only traffic northbound on Hwy 51 will have to detour around the stage area between W. College and W. Elm

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

City Council Meeting

Agenda for tomorrow night's city council meeting. Given that it is a closed meeting to discuss employees, dollars to doughnuts the city manager position will come up:

WELCOME - Visitors are always welcome to all meetings of the City Council. If you wish to address the Council concerning an item which is listed on the printed Agenda, please raise your hand when that item is introduced for discussion. 1. Roll Call 2. Citizen’s Comments and Questions 3. Closed Meeting Closed Meeting to Discuss the Appointment, Employment, Performance, or Dismissal of Specific Employees of the Public Body 4. Return to Open Session Possible Action Relating to the Appointment, Employment, Performance, or Dismissal of Specific Employees of the Public Body 

I66 Corridor

According to this, the proposed I66 Corridor, running a 4 lane interstate across southern Illinois to connect Paducah and  Cape Girardeau smack through the Cache River wetland region, has been cancelled.

Of course, IDOT, never one to give up on a bad idea, witness the Marion interchange and widening of Highway 13 from Marion to Carbondale, has now come up with the Shawnee Parkway project.  Tell you what, before building anymore highways that only a few people really want, how about we get the rest of Illinois highways and bridges up to snuff. For example, you could start with a couple of the bridges along 127 between 146 and old 13.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Downtown Hyatt

I gather the proposed downtown Hyatt on S. Illinois will prove more useful to the community than I thought. It appears we have a number of visitors in Carbondale who plan to arrive by train or bus and contact the Convention and Tourism Bureau asking for directions to a hotel or motel within walking distance of the station. Needless to say, there are no motels within walking distance of the Amtrak station so anyone arriving in Carbondale has to arrange for a taxi or other transportation to lodging.  Having the Hyatt in downtown and only a block away will alleviate that difficulty.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ding Dong Baity's Gone

It appears the now shuttered Pony is happy to see the departure of city manager Kevin Baity as the above is what is showing on the marquee outside the establishment.

Press Conference On Baity Resignation

Just got back from a quickly called press conference featuring Mayor Mike Henry with a little more detail about Kevin Baity's resignation.  From what Henry said, the split is amicable and no negative material will appear in Baity's file, the city council decided it wanted to move in a "different direction", one that was not a good fit for Baity. The mayor mentioned the term "business friendly' several times so apparently that will be a focus of the city for the next year.

Assistant City Manager Gary Williams is now "acting" city manager for the foreseeable future, while the city solicits applications for the position. The city will rely on word of mouth to generate applications it appears, as the mayor said the position will not be posted online. Baity is currently on a paid leave of absence as the city negotiations the terms of separation with him. Under the current agreement, if the city terminated Baity, he would receive 6 months severance pay but, according to the mayor, this is one of the points under negotiation.

Not sure if it means anything but Mayor Henry met with Chief Grubbs just prior to the press conference, but did not see the Chief present at the conference.

City Manager Stepping Down

Kevin Baity announced today that he will step down as Carbondale City Manager effective Oct 1,  The City Council has a closed session last night. Typically council only goes into closed session to discuss issues pertaining to real estate or employment issues, so I imagine Baity's resignation/termination was the topic of discussion. IF the council terminated Baity's contract, he receives six month's pay as severance and does not have to pay back the money received to fund is master's studies at SIUC. Not sure what the contract says if he resigns