Thursday, May 23, 2019

TJ's Fine Jewelry

TJ's Fine Jewelry on East Main has morphed again and is now TJ's Fine Jewelry and Repair. Although the press release does not specify, I assume that means jewelry repair. Now that I think about it, I believe that leaves Carbondale with only two jewelers, TJ's and one in the mall. 25 years ago, the community could support four of them, 2 in University Mall and 2 downtown on S. Illinois, Don's Jewelry across from the Amtrak station and one, the name of which escapes me, located where the Carbondale Tourism office is now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

SIUE Phasing out Nursing Program at Carbondale

Not quite sure why SIUE had a nursing program at SIUC instead of on its own campus but the university is phasing it out. Maybe SIUE does not have a school of medicine and took advantage of the infrastructure at SIUC? Meanwhile, SIUC will start up its own nursing program and transfer current students in SIUE's program over to it. Of course, the transfer program got bollixed  enough, that, according to the article, one student got so much misinformation that she is opting to transfer to another school.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hot Dog Carts

Looks as if hot dog cards are seeing a resurgence in Carbondale. There is one on the west side of town  in the Westgate Shopping Center parking lot, one downtown parked across from the Civic Center and one in the Lowes parking lot. Guess you would have to try all three of them to find out how each one serves upt its hot dogs.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


It appears the planed re-organization of SIUC is going ahead. I still have never head a good reason for it. Maybe there is one and it is being kept internal. Seems to me the ONLY reason to reorganize the university is to benefit the students. Students come to SIUC to get a degree.They do not particularly care about the department or college is organized. In fact, if they and the university do a good job, how the university is organized should never impact them.

Is the re-organization going to save money, make the university run more efficiently? From everything I have heard, it always sounds as if the upper echelons of SIUC want to reorganize but do not have a reason for doing so.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


I have heard that on-campus attendance at SIUC  will be less than 10,000 this fall. I remember when that was what the university expected for summer attendance and we would comment on how empty the town felt.

Monday, May 13, 2019

710 Bookstore Closing

It appears moving to another location was not enough to save 7110 Bookstore. After over 50 years in Carbondale, the business announced it would close its doors at the end of the day on May 25.

710 lost its long time location on S. Illinois when the Evolve apartment complex moved into downtown Carbondale. It first moved a few blocks south into the strip of stores occupied by Harbaugh's Cafe and Kampus Cuts, got rid of most of its textbooks and other school supplies and primarily focused on SIUC apparel. Last year, the store moved again to a second floor location on S. Wall but seems to have not been able to draw traffic there either.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

McCarthy Watch

For those interested in the doings of commencement speaker and doctorate recipient Melissa McCarthy, from what I have heard she has dined at the following places:

Fat Bottom Bettys

Kudos to her for eating at local restaurants instead of chains.

Friday, May 10, 2019


Just a reminder that tomorrow is SIUC's graduation, meaning that there will be a lot of people driving through town that are not familiar with Carbondale's system of one way streets. I have already seen a couple of cars driving south on Illinois this week.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Save A Lot

Looks as if discount grocer Save A Lot is having financial difficulties and has put itself up for sale. No indication the company intends to declare bankruptcy, though.

Sunday, May 5, 2019


More downtown parking going in where the Huffman Harker Funeral Home used to stand. Probably purchased and installed by Memorial Hospital since I have not seen a press release from the city indicating it is a Carbondale project.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

State Science Fair

the Illinois Junior Academy State Science Fair will probably bring 500+ plus high school students and their families to town this weekend so expect to see a lot of people driving the wrong way on downtown streets.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Oakland Ave Closed

the city will close Oakland Avenue between Walnut and Freeman for the immediate future for replacement of water mains. We are trading off short term inconvenience for long term infrastructure improvement 

Friday, April 26, 2019

National Bike Month Events

Once again, Carbondale pedals furiously into National Bike Month. Here is a list of the events the city has planned.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Free Parking

City council is considering some form of free parking for downtown. Back in the 1990s, most downtown parking was free. However, in order to avoid paying for a parking sticker, a lot of students would park their cars in downtown and leave them for several hours. Putting in parking meters eliminated that problem. Now, with about 10,000 fewer students, this may be less of a problem.

Apparently a lot of businesses have employees that drive to work and need to park. If they do not get out to their parking space before it expires, they get a ticket.

There is a solution currently of course. Employees or their employer could purchase downtown parking passes for the staff from the city but I do not see a lot of people taking advantage of them. The city could also talk with Memorial Hospital about using the hospital's parking garage. If I recall rightly, the hospital has no objection to people parking on the upper floors of the structure. Of course, after parking there, it is still a good 10-15 minutes walk to downtown.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Bob Butler

In case you missed the news, longtime Marion mayor Bob Butler passed away yesterday, about a year after he opted to not run for another term. From the news, he had moved into an assisted living facility after leaving the office. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Small Maker's Market

In case you want to pick up some items from local crafters and artesians:

Blink Small Maker’s Market is designed to help support and celebrate local artists, crafters, and vintage sellers with monthly pop-up small maker’s markets in downtown Carbondale.
Carbondale, IL May 5th, 2019: Blink: Small Maker’s Market will host its inaugural pop-up market in downtown Carbondale on Sunday, May 5th, 3pm-6pm featuring arts, crafts, vintage, music and more. The market will be held at 101 W. Monroe Street in Carbondale, next to the Old Train Depot and the Cellar.  Blink will be held on the first Sunday of every month in various downtown locations in Carbondale.

The first pop-up market in May will feature local artisans: Brianna Pay, ART Cougar, Kelly Sparks Salchli, Samantha Ronketto,  ILH Studios;  Heady Yeti, Nanna’s Notions, GraceNote Metalworks, and Twisted! By Lisa; and local vintage sellers: GeekBetty Vintage and Goodbirger.
Ellie Burkey will be discussing essential oils during the pop-up and offering an assortment of simple blends, roller balls and rubs.  Twisted! By Lisa will offer a DIY bracelet tutorial for only $5 (ages 10+).  ILH Studios will offer personalized sketches and caricatures.  Shaad Schubert will be playing an acoustic set of original songs.
Free to attend. For more information, email

Hwy 127 Open

Highway 127 reopened south of Alto Pass, but only one lane. ITOT has put in place a one lane bypass with a traffic light while the reshoring and rebuilding of the main road takes place. Apparently the rain caused part of the road to start cracking and sliding into the valley below

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Students Want in a University

I have taught at SEMO for about 20 years and every semester I have made a point of asking my student why they chose to attend it. Admittedly, this is a non-random sample but the overwhelming reason is

Program--students choose to attend SEMO because it offers a particular program or major.

Secondary reasons include:
financial aid package
location--either close to home or (less often) far away from home.

I have never had a student yet cite the appearance of the campus or any sports teams or facilities (except those attending on an athletic scholarship) as a reason to attend.

Monday, April 15, 2019

New Businesses In Downtown

Looks as if there are 4 new businesses open or opening soon in downtown Carbondale. As new Crossfit studio has opened in the location vacated by the previous one, just south of the new Reema's location. In the small shopping complex across the street, 2 clothing boutiques have opened and a hat shop has a sign in the window "Opening soon".

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Protestors Calling for Henry's Resignation

A small group of about 25 protesters gathered in City Hall yesterday to call for Mayor Henry to step down following additional information coming out about the incident that took place at the Mayor's home just before the election. Saw another small group of about a dozen outside city hall this afternoon with one of them getting interviewed by someone from Channel 3.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Hibachi Grill

It appears that, according to a post on FB, that SIUC just bought a hibachi grill for one of the dining rooms. Yes, food is important but making sure all of your programs get funded probably takes priority. I think the the students would get along with out grilled food just fine, not so sure about programs.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Mayor's Plans

According to the current Carbondale Communique,here is what Mayor Henry plans to work on during the next year:

Reconstruction of oakland from Walnut to Chautauqua to put in a new water main

Repaving Freeman from Oakland to Glenview

Completing the Highway 13 expansion from Giant City Road to Read Station Road, including a multiuse pedestrian path

Bike/pedestrian path from Oakland to New Era Road

More recreational opportunities at Cedar Lake

Continuing neighborhood based police patrols

Increased number of community events, similar to Halloween.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Furniture King

If you drive by the Furniture King on each Hwy 13, you will see the store windows filled with "Stor Closing" signs. It is only if you look closer, or got a letter in the mail from the store, that you will see at the bottom of the windows in letters only a tenth the size of the store closing ones, "For Remodeling". Not a big fan of this type of marketing as people who drive by are going to see the "Store Closing" signs and that is what they will remember, not the "for remodeling" subtext.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Carbondale Population Over the Decades

with the interest in the upcoming census, I decided to take a look back at the population of Carbondale over the past several censuses

1950--10,920  +21.7 %
1960--14,670  +25.5%
1970--22,816  +55%
1980--26,414 +15.8 %
1990--27033 +2.3%
2000--25.597  -5.3%
2010--25,902  +1.2%
2017--25,899 (est.)  0.00%

The population of Carbondale doubled between 1950 and 1970, primarily because of people drawn here by SIUC. Not by coincidence, I would bet, the town's population peaked the same year SIUC's did and, while Carbondale has not seen the same decline in numbers than SIUC has, the town is only about 3 times as large as it was prior to WW2.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019


Looks like a good election if you were an incumbent in Carbondale. Mike Henry won relection as Mayor and Adam Loos and Tom Grant got re-elected to city council. Only Navreet Kang lost his seat to returning councilman Lee Fronabarger. Jane Adams, Kirsten Trimble and Jessica Sergeev all won seats on the Park district board and the resolution calling for exploring merging the Park District into the city passed handily. A major concern of merging the two will be the amount of debt the Park District still bears from Hickory Ridge Golf Course, which will take years to pay off.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Statement by Mike Henry

Mayor Henry posted the following, regarding the domestic incident on his Henry for Carbondale Mayor Page:

By now you may have read in the Daily Egyptian that my wife, Terri, and I had a visit from the police department Sunday night. We had family visiting, and some tensions had arisen, and Terri and I were arguing about it across the room.
Our porch doors were open and our arguing drew the attention of a police foot patrol, who were walking the neighborhood in response to some recent thefts. Ironically, they were doing exactly what they should have been doing as part of the targeted foot patrol policies I have been encouraging.
There was never any violence, or threat of violence. Just some hurt feelings in a difficult family situation.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Domestic Incident

Apparently a "domestic incident" between Mayor Henry and his wife got loud enough last Saturday night to attract the attention of a pair of Carbondale Police officers on foot patrol near the house. No arrests or charges filed but the investigation has been forwarded to the Jackson County States Attorney's office

Election Tomorrow

You can still early vote at the Carbondale civic center today or at your favorite/assigned precinct tomorrow.Seeing a lot of signs for Colombo and a lot of late arriving signs for Henry. Not too many for the individual council candidates, save for Kang.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Nathan Colombo Parking Lot Party

In case you are driving east on Main Street tomorrow and see a crowd in the parking lot at Mike's Music/Campus Comics, mayoral candidate Nathan Colombo is hosting a honk and wave event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Columbo and several of the city council candidate will be there so this is probably your last chance to question them before the election on April 2.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Still Waiting on Henry and Loos

have managed to get statements about their candidacy from all of the city council and mayoral candidates except for Mike Henry and Adam Loos. and have posted them. Hoping I hear from those two before the election.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Lee Fronabarger

I contacted former council member and current city council candidate Lee Fronabarger with questions about his candidacy. Here are his  unedited responses

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run for Carbondale City Council after encouragement from several individuals within the community. And I wanted the opportunity to continue the progress made when I served previously on the Council for six years.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

Economic development and jobs creation towards a more diversified Carbondale economy is so key to the future of Carbondale and would include the development of a center for Start-Ups/Innovation, as well as Shared Services Space, like a State Approved Certified Kitchen where food products could be prepared for distribution in the local and regional markets.

To increase revenues into the community, I would encourage the city to partner with Carbondale Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, Carbondale Main Street, Carbondale Community Arts, SIU & SIU Athletics, SIH, and CCHS to create events, festivals, day-trips, overnight adventures, conventions and conferences. We need to cycle more money into the local economy.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Jerrold Hennrich

I emailed city council candidate Jerrold Hennrich with 3 questions about his candidacy. Below are his unedited responses

Why are you running for city council?

1. I'm running for City Council because I am sick of the status quo.  I view the position of Councilperson as acting as a steward on behalf of all citizens of Carbondale.  The decisions made by Council directly impact the economic and social viability of the entire region. I believe that I am the best person for the job. 

If elected, what will you work to achieve?

2. If elected,  I plan to oppose tax increases, advocate for a reduction of the police budget, advocate to re-invest in our infrastructure, revise the zoning rules that hinder businesses success and introduce and pass an ordinance that requires council to vote on issues brought to it by petition.

What else would you like voters to know?

3. You can learn more, volunteer or donate at I am always available, though try to call prior to 9 p.m. My cell phone number is 618-353-7027. You can always contact me with issues or concerns.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Navreet Kang

Here is the response I received to several questions I sent to councilman, and candidate for re-election  Navreet Kang. His responses are unedited:

1.  Why are you running for another term on the council?

I have served on the planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for the City for last 13 years (until 2015), when I got elected to the City Council. I have made contributions to the City Fire Department by bringing in our 4th Arson Dog, bringing funding for an Infra-Red Camera, and provided 110 Canary Home Protection devices to each and every Fire/Policeman. I have lived now in Carbondale for almost 30 years (April 25 will be 30), and this is my home. I find it as my civic duty to contribute in some fashion to this community. 

2. What do you feel you have accomplished during your past council term?

Downtown Redevelopment, Demolition of old Horizon Inn, Development of Downtown Hotel, City has earned the Bike-Friendly City award. Sidewalk/Bike Path  extending from Murdale Shopping Center to Old Hwy 13, Now Bikepaths are almost throughout the city. Every new street will be paved with Bike paths in mind.
We have new more streamlined software for Finance Department, and for the Police. Hired a new (and effective City Manager, Economic Development Director, and New Police Chief). We now have Natural Burials permitted in Carbondale. We have acquired and authorized a bike trail from Oakland Avenue to New Era Road, extending further west toward Murphysboro. New Warming Center was introduced this winter, and I'd like to see a permanent Warming/Cooling Center. We now have See, Click, Fix App available to anyone who wants to report a problem or an issue in Carbondale, pertaining to Code Violations, or just a street light being out. 
We now have online agenda program, thereby saving valuable police time that it took to deliver our Council packages each week, copying paper copies for at least 10 individuals each meeting, etc. saving a lot of money as well as personnel hours. 
We have a new Diversity Officer, as well as an HR Manager. 
We have revised and eased up restrictions on Housing Grants for First-time homebuyers. 20 homeowners were able to take advantage of such programs. 
Security Upgrades within the City Hall and we have a more revamped Website.
We have hired a Public Relations Officer. 
Passed a Block Party Ordinance. Celebrated Halloween with open liquor and brought in a Festival like atmosphere back to Carbondale. Allowed all bars to remain open during Halloween weekend.
Allowed Sidewalk Café's to serve open liquor.
Revamped our Garbage Collection with new Containers issued to each residence, as well as reduce Worker's Comp Claims from those workers, who collect refuse, by  reducing back and other injuries caused by heavy lifting.
We now have self-funded insurance.
We licensed Uber/Lyft into Carbondale
Managed the Solar Eclipse successfully
Expanded trails and recreation areas at Cedar Lake
We are in the process of developing Sustainability Plan.
Mandatory Diversity Training for all employees.

3. What would you like to accomplish if re-elected?

Business and Economic Development by bringing in new industry/businesses.
Maintain a balanced budget, while contributing amounts required to fund Police/Firemen's Pension Fund.
Help SIU bring up Student enrollment
Improve Housing Stock
Improve Community Relations
Improve City Parks and Recreation (Hopefully to merge Park Operations into City Adminstration

4. Is there anything else you would like the voters of Carbondale to know

I am an MBA and M.S. (Agri.). Degree holder, with over 36 years of business and management experience, plus 8 years as a Park District Commissioner, 13 years on the Planning Commission, 13 years on Zoning Board of Appeals, of which I was the Vice-Chair for 3 years, and Chair for 3 years, now almost 4 years as City Councilman. I believe I have what it takes to be an effective motivator and a leader to serve this city.

Navreet Kang
City Councilman
City of Carbondale.Illinois

Thursday, March 21, 2019


That is the salary the new basketball coach, who has never had a head coaching position, gets out of the gate at SIUC. About $75,000 a year more than Barry Hinson was receiving.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Regions Bank will move into a new location at the corner of Main and Oakland once it gets build. From what I hear, both of the other locations will close as the bank consolidates. I would be willing to bet Memorial Hospital tenders an offer for the West Main location, if it has not already, and expands further into that location.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Bright Spot Award to the Landings

The Landing at Reed Station Road, a retirement home focusing on veterans, received a Bright Spot Award from Keep Carbondale Beautiful:

Nominated by the board of Keep Carbondale Beautiful for the March Bright Spot award, The Landings at Reed Station Crossing presents itself as a resort both inside and outside.  Local owners Charlie and Trace Brown followed Trace’s vision for building design as well as landscaping that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.  Not obvious from the street, the north side of the building has a pond and a gazebo, which allows residents to be outside and enjoy the scenery.

A new development on the property is the garden project. Executive Director Andrew Belt said Home Depot awarded them a grant for the project, which will include fencing, fruit trees and berry bushes, and raised beds with vegetable and herbs, which will be used in the kitchen.  Most importantly, a committee of residents will advise on the garden-to-table concept, and paths and ramps will allow residents to work in the garden. Kristen Bathon, Director of Sales and Marketing, added, “We really want residents to be engaged in this on a daily basis.”

The Keep Carbondale Beautiful, Inc., Board selects businesses or residences to receive the Bright Spot Award for enhancing the beauty of our community by means of revitalization of property, new construction, plantings and beautification, upkeep and maintenance, or rehabilitation.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Renew Illinois Summit

Renew Illinois summit coming to SIUC at the end of the month, with the report going to Governor Pritzker and the state legislature afterwards, meaning nothing will come of it. Hopefully I am just being cynical but it appears that most of these sorts of reports get issued with all sorts of fanfare then quietly expire in the halls of the legislature.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Following up on Monday's post, most of the empty storefronts in downtown are located at the south end of Illinois Avenue.  The strip of stores with China Wok, Harbaugh's and Kampus Kuts sits half empty, as does the strip behind Traxx and the strip anchored by The Game Table. Now that I think about it. most of the freestanding buildings in downtown have occupants in them. The only freestanding buildings I can think of that are unoccupied are the old Reema's building and the doctor's office at the corner of college and Illinois. Not sure if that means anything except it may be easier to upgrade a single building rather than an entire strip of them.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Empty Storefronts

Ran into a reader of the blog yesterday who had spent a couple of hours traipsing up Illinois and the downtown side streets. They said they had counted 18 empty storefronts in the downtown area. I can think of 4 between Walnut and Oak, not counting the offices of Marsha Ryan. Now that she has retired, her office building is up for sale. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Tree Sale

Tree sale coming up at the Town Square Pavilion on the 23rd

We all need trees: they filter the water and clean the air; they lower cooling costs and mitigate flooding; they add beauty and value to a property; and they provide habitat and food for fauna.  Start thinking about adding trees and shrubs to your landscape.  Keep Carbondale Beautiful will be selling native trees and shrubs at the Carbondale Town Square Pavilion (northeast corner of Main and Illinois) on Saturday, March 23, from 9 am to 2 pm. 
Although KCB will special order other plants, they specialize in those native to the area, which means they are better suited to the local environment, thus more likely to thrive, and provide essential habitat for native birds and butterflies.  Two nurseries supply plants: Forrest Keeling in Missouri has a wide variety of plants.  Tabor Nursery is closer and, for this sale, promises “some really nice black gum, bald cypress, water tupelo, bur oak, cherry bark oak, and water hickory.”

The Keep Carbondale Beautiful website <> lists all the trees that will be for sale, plus suggestions of other natives that are hard to find and can be ordered.  The trees (5-6’ tall) sell for $30 and shrubs for $20 each (all in 3-gallon containers).  Pre-ordered trees get a discount. March 17th is the deadline for all special and pre-orders, which can include non-natives. Contact KCB at 618-525-5525 or

Friday, March 8, 2019

T. J. 's Fine Jewelry

After having a "Going Out of Business Sale" that lasted for about 2 months, including a signboard counting down the days to closure, T. J. 's Fine Jewelry has apparently reversed course as the store remains open. It would appear that a going out of business sale generated enough business for the store to remain open, at least for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Tom Grant

I reached out to current city council member and candidate for re-election Tom Grant with some questions about his candidacy. Below are his unedited responses:

Why did you decide to run for another term?

I feel I can still contribute to the community and remain as a voice of reason on the Council.

What do you hope to accomplish/see accomplished if you are elected to a second term?

I hope to see the Founders Park development plan completed and implementation started.

I hope to bring renewable energy solar panels through the middle of town along the railroad tracks. This will help free our dependence on fossil fuels and free up money in the budget for other community improvements.

I hope to assist the formation of private/public partnerships to create new jobs within the community (ie: innovation lab and maker space).

I will work to "right size" our police force and reduce the pension burden to a sustainable level.

I hope to continue the sustainability plan started by the sustainability commission and see it published and implemented.

I hope to assist the City and Park District in finding an equitable solution to the funding of city parks as they are vital to the health and well being of our community.

What else, if anything, would you like voters to know?

I love our community.
We have the best of everything and are truly blessed to live in this time and place.
Together, with our hard work, a positive attitude and being helpful to all, we will make Carbondale its best yet!
We have many energetic young people seeking a place to fit in and make a living.
We need to coddle new ideas and embrace new technologies that create jobs and are good for the planet and our citizens. 

Thomas Grant
Council Member and Candidate for Re-election.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jane Adams on Park District Referendum

Past councilwoman Jane Adams is running for a spot on the Carbondale Park District board. Since one of the items on the ballot is a referendum on merging the Park District into the City, I emailed for her take on the question. Below is her unedited response:

It’s one of the most important items on the April 2 ballot. Short answer:

Kirsten Trimble and I support the question on the Advisory Referendum that will be on the April 2 ballot: “Should the City of Carbondale and the Carbondale Park District explore merging their operations?” 

We need to know more to commit to supporting a merger of the Park District into the City.

Here’s how we see the issues:

For decades the Park District has faced fiscal crises; in response proposals to merge some or all of the District’s operations have been proposed. Discussions between the City and the  Park District regarding continued leasing of City properties by the Park District have made public the massive amount of deferred maintenance and focused attention on the Park District’s inability to adequately maintain the city’s parks. It’s widely recognized that they do a good job with programming, particularly (but not solely) for children. They also do a good job of collaborating with other units of government.

The Park District's financial inability to maintain our parks for public usage has risen to the level of a true crisis. Given the Park District’s virtually complete reliance on property taxes, merging the Park District into the City may turn out to be the only solution. 

The Park District Board of Commissioners has begun collecting the data to help Commissioners (and the public) determine whether there are other solutions or if merger is the best solution. With adequate data and citizen input, I need to weigh all options before making a final determination that merger is the best option.

Here’s our expanded response:

1. Is merger possible? 
Advice from Illinois' leading municipal law firms shows that, despite very restrictive language in theIllinois Constitution, a merger of a Park District and a municipality is still possible. Here’s how it can be done:

  • The Park District can contract with the City to take over Park District operations, including financial management, maintenance, and/or recreational and other programming. The Park District agrees to reimburse the City for some or all the costs of these operations.
  • The Park District continues to levy property taxes and pays down its debt. In the case of the Carbondale Park District, it appears this can be accomplished in 7 years.
  • The Park District asks the City to annex any properties that lie outside the city limits; the City does so.
  • The City Council and Park District Board of Commissioners then submit a binding referendum to the voters seeking a merger of the two taxing bodies. If a majority of those voting approve it, the Park District would cease to exist as a separate taxing body.
2. What would be the benefits? 
From what we currently know, there appear to be more benefits than risks in merging operations:

  • There should be cost savings by eliminating duplication, especially in financial management; maintenance equipment, staff, and management; and some staff duplications in programming. The amount of duplication looks as if it will increase as the City takes over Piles Fork Creek Greenway and Trail from the Park District and as it develops more parks and activities in the Downtown area (Founders Park, Town Square Pavilion, the developing event space on Washington Street, and more). 
  • Due to its larger size, the City can exercise greater financial oversight and eliminate inefficiencies due to inadequate software and number of staff.
  • For the same reason, the City can more easily cover absences of management and other key personnel.
  • Due to its much larger and more diversified budget (a variety of sales taxes as well as property taxes), the City can cover dips in income for which the Park District currently must borrow, at relatively high interest rates, with tax anticipation warrants.
  • The City Manager has stated that all current Park District staff can be integrated into the City staff with a minimum of disruption.

3. What are the risks?
The greatest risk that we see is that the Park District Board of Commissioners currently focuses entirely on the Park District. The public’s ability to influence Park District priorities might lessen in a merger with the City.

4. Proposed next steps.
We believe this risk can be averted in two ways:

  • As long as it remains an elected Board of Commissioners, the Board should undertake strategic planning, set clear priorities, and develop written criteria for accountability. These should guide negotiations between the Park District and the City. Strategic planning and setting of priorities needs to be done whether or not the Park District Commissioners decide to merge their operations with the City.
  • If voters approve merger of the two taxing bodies (after bonds are paid off), The Board should be reconstituted as a Parks and Recreation Commission that meets regularly, advising the City Council on Parks and Recreation Department priorities.

In principle, we believe that fewer units of government lead to lower property taxes. Further, 48 of our 50 states have parks and recreation within City governments. Only Illinois and California have (some) independent park districts. Those 48 states’ municipalities offer residents excellent parks. We can do the same if we choose to take that route.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Candidate Forums

The Arbor District sent out this handy list of upcoming candidate forums as well as candidates:

March 7, Thursday. 6:00 p.m. Civic Center. Mayoral Candidates Forum. Sponsored by Women for Change, Shawnee Group of the Sierra Club, Green Party, Carbondale Community Solar Working Group, Carbondale NAACP
March 19, Tuesday. 7:00 p.m. Civic Center. Carbondale Park District Board of Commissioners Candidates forum. Sponsored by League of Women Voters of Jackson County
March 21, Thursday, 7:00 p.m. Civic Center. City Council and Mayor candidates forum. Sponsored by League of Women Voters of Jackson County
March 25, Monday, 6:00 p.m. New Zion Baptist Church. School Board Forum. Sponsored by the Carbondale NAACP

There may also be a forum for John A Logan College board members. If so, we'll send the date, time, and location.

Early voting has begun!

Jackson County Clerk's office, Court House, 8:00-4:00 p.m.

  • February 21 - April 1, (Same day registration permitted with proper identification)
  • Saturday, March 30, 8:00-12:00 noon, Jackson County Clerk's office.
Carbondale Civic Center 9:00 a.m  to 3:00 p.m.
  • Monday, March 18th 
  • Wednesday, March 20th 
  • Wednesday, March 27th
  • Friday, March 29th

Candidate websites

Candidates for Mayor (in alpha order)

City Council candidates (in alpha order)

Park District Board of Commissioner candidates  (in order they appear on ballot)

 (Jane Adams and Kirsten Trimble are running as a team)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

City Council Candidate Forum

Sat in on the League of Women Voters city council candidate forum with current members Loos, Kang and Grant and candidates Fronabarger and Hennrich. Rather uprising how little daylight there was among the five in response to the questions. Of course, the questions were all ones that almost noone would oppose.

Should the Park District be merged into city operations?  Loos, Kang and Fronabarger all said "yes". Hennrich and Grant hewed more closely to the wording of the initiative on the ballot which calls for the merger to be "looked into", with which they agreed.

Should the city enforce restrictions on grass height and encourage other forms of yard growth? All five candidate say yes, the city should have a maximum grass height, that enforcement should have some leeway and that the city should also encourage/allow other forms of ground cover than grass (Seriously? I guess the yellow signs might annoy some people but if you want to have a lawn in the city, it comes with some responsibility).

Do you support the city becoming more energy efficient and utilizing renewable energy? everyone was in favor of this, pointing out that the new streetscape lighting utilizing LED bulbs that consumer far less energy. Installing solar panels was brought up, although candidates showed some concern about funding them.

Growing SIUC?  Yeah, this is a good thing, all the candidates agreed but how? The university itself doesn't expect to reach 25,000 students again, having set a target number of about 18,000 by the middle of the next decade. Loos even commented there was very little the city could do to grow SIUC as that was in the hands of the Board of Trustees and the state.

Water Pollution?  Again, this is a bad thing. All of the candidates agreed that the city should monitor pollutants entering its water supply and look at taking action regarding the use of fertilizer and chemical pollutants in the city. It was pointed out that, due to its location, the city has remarkably little control over its primary water source, Cedar Lake, and could do very little when an industrial poultry farm wanted to locate nearby.

Like I said, not particularly controversial and not a lot of daylight between the candidates. If I got something wrong or missed something, let me know in the comments.