Thursday, December 31, 2015

Delinquent Taxes

Flipping through Wednesday's Southern Illinoisan and happened to glance at the delinquent tax list and noticed the name Fisher appearing over and over. It appears that Lindsay and Henry Fisher are arrears in real estate taxes on over 3 dozen properties. They are in good company though, as other companies such as Timberline Landscape Design, Yardshapes, Alumni Investments and Tom Cat Hill also owe taxes. Even Green Earth Inc. owes $25.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

East on Walnut

Walking on Walnut just before Christmas, I noticed, once again, the sidewalks running from houses out to the street, indicating that, at one time, parking was available on both sides of Walnut, Main Street too. People could leave their house and walk out to the street where their car waited. If I recall correctly, both streets were made one way back in the 1980s, with the promise that on street parking would remain. There are spots of on-street parking found on Walnut but not many and none on Main Street.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Volunteers Wanted

If you would like to help out families displaced by the flooding, volunteers are cooking chicken and dumplings tomorrow for displaced families, volunteers, and  emergency workers. From an email I received:

On Tuesday December 29, we will be cooking chicken and dumplings at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Murphysboro and delivering them to volunteers, emergency workers, and displaced families. 

Food donations will be accepted at the KC Hall Monday between 6:00 and 7:00 pm and Tuesday after 7:00 am. We need volunteers to cook, clean, and deliver meals starting at 9:00 am.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Merging Tourism and Main Street Boards

I think the city has floated the idea of merging Carbondale Main Street and the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau as a cost saving measure. I say "I think" because in the article, the mayor refers to merging the boards of the two organizations, which would not save the city any money at all, since the board members are unpaid. I know, since I sit on the CMS board and sat on the CTB board for a couple of years. If any board member ever got paid a dime, I never heard of it.

Merging the two organizations doesn't make much sense either, unless you want both to operate out of the same office as the purpose of each organization, while similar, different enough that it requires the attention of a full time director to accomplish. CMS purpose is to drive business in downtown Carbondale and draw traffic to that area which the CCTB's purpose is to draw people to the community at large, specifically to put "heads in beds" at local hotels and bed and breakfasts. Both organizations currently have pretty small staffs, maybe 3 in each case including the director and CMS, especially, relies heavily on volunteers to accomplish its goals.

Now, another part of the proposal, moving each organization out of its present offices and into city hall makes more sense. From what I have heard, I would expect to see the CTB move out of its office at the corner of Marion and Illinois and into the Civic Center sometime in 2016. Its current location is pretty energy inefficient and the organization could see significant cost savings by the move. 

From what I have heard, there is also interest in the CMS offices as a retail location and, since the Old Train Depot is owned by the city, if someone were to make an offer on the location, I imagine the city would want to move CMS to different offices to get another business into downtown.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Council OKs Liquor Store

Last night city council decided to OK the transfer of the liquor license from Pick's Liquors to the new American Tap Liquors opening next year on S. Illioins, next to El Grecos's and about 15 yards from Old Town Liquor. While I was happy to see the city step away from past attempts to micromanage business in Carbondale (the decision a couple of years ago to not allow another personal loan office to open up comes to mind) and am glad to see another business open in downtown Carbondale, from a marketing viewpoint, it is not a good location for two reasons:

1. As Navreet Kang pointed out, the clustering effect does not work for all types of products. It works best for shopping goods such as clothing, shoes and cars, hence you typically find businesses selling those products located near each other, as people move from business before making a decision. For liquor, people tend to select a store, then make their purchase from the offerings in that store, rather than going to multiple stores to make a decision.

2. The location is poor for upscale liquors and a "fine dining" establishment such as Gundala plans to put in the back as the businesses, with a few exceptions,  in that area cater heavily to students. The lack of convenient parking weights against it as well.

I hope I am wrong and that both American Tap and Old Town Liquor both thrive, as more business is usually welcome in downtown.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Community Garden

The area on which the long demolished Tuscan Lodge building use to stand, at the corner of Jackson and Washington, now hosts a community garden.

Friday, December 18, 2015


This weekend is fall graduation for SIUC students so expect to see increased traffic in town and lots of people driving the wrong way on the one way streets.

It's always easy to tell when graduation rolls about as the street sweepers are out in full force. You may remember during the Cole administration that the street sweepers were mothballed as a cost saving measure and only brought out the week before classes started and graduation. Since then, they have been used on a weekly basis but never more than one at a time. I saw a couple of them out this week, making sure the town looks good for incoming parents and outgoing graduates

Sidetracks Moving (Sometime)

As discussed in this article in the Southern, Sidetracks will move across the street into the old Gatsby's location sometime in the next year or so. The property on which the bar sits is owned by the railroad, which notified the bar a year or so ago that it would not renew the lease, as the bar building sits too close to the railway tracks to comply with modern safety standards. Sidetracks has slowly moved fixtures and supplies into the old Gatsby's building this year but it appears the process will speed up.

The city will purchase the property from the railroad and demolish the building, adding more parking to the south end of Illinois Avenue and providing easier access to the parking already there.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Parking Meters Covered

The city has plastic bagged the downtown meters for the holiday season and will leave them bagged until after the first of the year. Helps with the stores located around the square, not so much with those further south, especially since the "entertainment district is located further south on Illinois. Still , 'tis a nice gesture.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shoeshine Shop

Washington Street Shoe Shine recently opened on N. Washington, about half a block north of the Town Square, in the location previously occupied by an urban wear shop and the Greyhoud Bus station. According to the sign in the window, prices start at $6.50

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Monday Closings

Walking around the Town Square area Monday afternoon, I realized how many businesses there closed on Mondays. Mary Lou's has closed on Sunday and Monday for decades but I noted Aban Kitchen, DayShift, Cristado's and Bella Sara all closed on Monday, with a couple closed on Sunday as well. I can understand the desire for a small business person, especially if you are the only one staffing your business, maybe with one part time person, but in today's always open economy, I found that number of businesses, located so closely together, all closed on the same day surprising.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Drove over and back to Marion yesterday and found myself wondering just why IDOT is building an overpass over Hwy 13 east of Carterville, just before the River Radio and WSIL 3 TV stations. It's not as if that area is highly trafficked. If IDOT really wanted to make the area safer, how about an overpass or even a traffic light at the intersection just east of Carterville, where there have been a number of accidents over the year's.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The State of the City Is.....

I dunno, but you can find out next Tuesday at the annual State of the City speech:

  Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry will present his first “State of the City Address” as part of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce’s regular monthly membership luncheon at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Dec.15 at the Carbondale Civic Center.
     The mayor is expected to reflect on his first few months in office and to address current and planned developments for the city. The event is open to the public, but lunch reservations are required. The event is $15 for Chamber members and those RSVP and $20 at the door. A portion of ticket sales will go toward scholarships for Carbondale Community High School students who choose to attend Southern Illinois University.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Parking Downtown

I know I talk a lot about downtown parking but the perceived lack of parking in downtown Carbondale is one of the biggest problems the area has. Customers don't want to shop where they cannot park conveniently, and conveniently is generally defined as within sight of the front door of the business.

One thing I would like to see done, but 'twould take the cooporation of both the city and IDOT is turning the turn lane in the 100-200 block of West Main into free on-street parking, with a 1-2 hour limit. This would really help places like Thai Taste and La Unica Bakery, who often have customers wanting to pop in for a few minutes to pick up an order or purchase some baked goods. Currently Thai Taste has to rely on customers parking across the street while La Unica has a small parking area behind the building that it shares with Triphammer Tattoo. Convenient parking in front of both businesses would truly help them do even better.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mike Bost Survey Email

Received an email from Rep. Mike Bost's office this morning. One of the things it contains was the results of a survey Rep. Bost conducted of constituents last week about admitting Syrian refugees:

For our most recent survey, I asked if you believed the United States should stop the flow of unscreened Syrian refugees across our borders.  Your response to this question was an overwhelming “yes” at 85 percent and just 11 percent of you answered “no.”  As I have mentioned previously, I couldn’t agree more – that’s why I voted to stop Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming to America until there is an upgraded screening process in place that ensures we can identify individuals who pose a threat.

The point that bugged me about the original survey was the term "unscreened", indicating  that refugees from Syria would be admitted to the US with no screening, which is not true. 

However, no one wants unscreened refugees entering the country. Given the biased wording of the question, it surprised me that 11% actually responded "no".

Friday, December 4, 2015

American Tap Liquors

Looks as if the LAB voted not to support the proposed American Tap Liquors establishment, which is tentatively planned for the long vacant American Tap sit on South Illinois. Likely the location of Old Town Liquors only 2 doors away played a large part in the decision.

The principals of American Tap Liquors argued that the "cluster effect" , the grouping of similar businesses near each other as you often see with clothing stores in a mall and car dealerships, would increase the sales of both businesses. However, the cluster effect only works if you have stores with similar but not identical products.Clothing stores and auto dealerships work because each offer similar products but with enough differences that customers will move from store to store. unless American Tap Liquors goes after a really high end audience, unlikely in a collage town, especially in the downtown area, you wind up with two stores, thirty feet apart, selling the same products. Both are going to carry Budweiser and Coors, with the only difference the price. Given that situation, one of the stores would not last very long.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Shawnee Parkway

In case you are interested, here is a link to the project that won't die, the Shawnee Parkway. The hope is to run a 4 lane highway from Paducah to Cape Girardeau, cutting transit time through the region and reducing wear on Highway 146. Of course, running the Parkway through the area means significantly disturbing the Cache River wetlands 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

American Tap Liquors

This looks as if it could get interesting. There is a request before the Liquor Advisory Board for the transfer of a liquor license from Pick's Liquors, which recently closed its East Grand location, American Tap Liquors, which, according to the meeting agenda, plans to open on the old American Tap location at 518 S. Illinois Avenue, less than a dozen yards from the current location of Old Town Liquors.