Daily (more or less) commentary on news and events in Carbondale and the Southern Illinois region, with occasional excursions to other locales.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
More City Property
Update: The city does not own the Peerless Linens site. That is privately owned but the city may have contributed some money to the razing.
Comprehensive Plan Meeting
--condemning dilapidated mobile homes, especially single units in residential areas, many of which pre-date 1974.
--doing "something" (not sure what) about The Crossings mobile home park on the north edge of town (this one might fit in well with the previous objective)
-encouraging more developments like the single family units off North Oakland
-- increasing teardown and replacement of decrepit homes in the area north of Sycamore and between Oakland and University.
If you're interested, next meeting is scheduled for March 11 and I believe a big public meeting is set for March 26.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Reasons to Support Local Independent Businesses
1) Preserve local/regional identity
2) Far better benefit to cost ration as compared to chains (unfortunately, the flyer doesn't say what the actual ratio is).
3) More equitable income distribution (again no statistics but Starbucks is offered as an example. Which would you rather patronize, Starbucks or Melange?)
4) Better community reinvestment (45% vs. 13%) (This is an oft quoted figure that comes from a study done several years ago by a retailers association in Texas).
5) Better goods and services (assuming local is better, local businesses are more likely to buy local).
6) Adds richness to life (no-one ever comes back from a trip bragging about the great little McDonald's or Applelby's they ran across).
7) It's the right thing to do. (This one is pretty touchy feely. Who's to say what is right?).
I Was Wrong
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Meet Kevin Clark
Monday, February 23, 2009
Pay to Play and the Miners
Initially, a southern Illinois medical doctor proposed the idea of his bringing a minor league team to the region. He was somehow convinced to back out of his efforts. In 2005, the announcement was made publicly that SIU Trustee John Simmons would build a ballpark in Marion, Ill., and purchase a minor-league team.
Early on in this venture, Simmons hired Dennis Poshard as his public relations and marketing director for this for the ball team and stadium. (That would be the Arthur Agency.)
In 2005 – and this received much negative attention in the northern part of the state and among legislators – Blagojevich announced he would give $3 million for the infrastructure for the ballpark. At his press conference in Marion, he gleefully said he was adding $1 million more, for a total of $4 million. At the same time, local school districts were begging for money for much-needed construction projects of their own. Blagojevich’s promises to them remain unfulfilled to this day.(and probably will remain that way)
Among the interesting offshoots of Rent One Park is a newly constructed exit off I-57 just north of the original interstate exit in Marion, Ill. To the west, the traffic flow goes past a branch of Peoples National Bank (connected to the newly appointed SIU Board of Trustee William "Bill" Bonan II) on its way to – you guessed it – Rent One Park. (I spoke to a couple of people whose opinion about IDOT I respect about the new Marion exit and both were of the opinion there was no logistical or economic need for it, only a political one).
Saturday, February 21, 2009
South Side Development
Friday, February 20, 2009
Indian Students Declining
Existing housing in Carbondale is threatened by a number of factors including new developments that both expand housing units as well as provide an attractive alternative to the existing rental market. It is my understanding that students have filled up new units such as Saluki Pointe and they now have a waiting list. More of these apartments are on the way.
The new developments are also an issue for the local business community: most or all of the development’s business is done with vendors and suppliers from other parts of the country. Very little banking, accounting or other services are done locally. Appliances, lumber and other materials are often bought elsewhere. Other construction firms often replace local workers. The profits of the complexes move out of the local business community.
Much of the existing housing, apartments as well as rooming houses, have felt the effects - with reported occupancy rates plummeting. This is coupled with a downturn in enrollment at the university that is lessening demand. A significant amount of the existing rental housing is substandard leading to fears of widespread vacancies.
Vacant and abandoned housing will create eyesores in the community, be attractive to crime and lower nearby property values. Unfortunately, credit markets may not support private efforts to rehabilitate the abandoned or substandard properties.
While there is a widespread view among the rental agents and landlords that the threat to them is from the new housing, our data show that substandard housing poses more of a threat to the existing market. Over 43% of the single-family houses and fourplexes in Carbondale are rentals. Of that total, over 50% are held by absentee landlords. A majority of the landlords in this category hold fewer than 3 properties. Landlords are scattered in 43 states, the result of students, faculty and others buying houses and moving around the nation.
Substandard properties also compete by neglecting maintenance resulting in unfairly low price points for rentals as well as unfair tax responsibility. While our data have not found an exact property-by-property correlation between absentee ownership and substandard housing, anecdotal evidence points to this conclusion.
In spite of the condition of the housing, local businesses state that their employees cannot find appropriate shelter, for the right cost, in safe and comfortable homes.
I propose a not for profit organization, Renew Carbondale, to buy and rehabilitate existing, substandard housing. The goal of the organization is to assure safe, comfortable homes that will be made available at attractive rates to families and other homebuyers in Carbondale. The houses will be bound by a codicil that prevents them becoming rentals.
A board made up of appointees from the Mayor and City Council as well as several members elected from the community at large guides the organization. Its board is to set the policy for the organization and adhere to a written charter in its work.
Funds for the organization might be obtained from a number of sources: the city, bonds, as well as the Federal government and HUD. There may be opportunities for private investment as well in the form of REITs. The amount of funds that are needed should be determined by the scope of the initial effort.
A formula on the back of an envelope says that the costs of rehabilitation might be close to the costs of acquisition of the original property. For instance, a $30,000 purchase would need at least $30,000 in rehab costs. Assuming the goal of rehabbing 200 houses over 5 years, the costs might be close to $4,000,000 per year. These estimates and goals are necessarily inexact and are subject to extensive revision, of course. The moneys received from the sale of rehabbed housing would be placed back into the fund.
A goal of Renew Carbondale is to support local business. To the degree that it is legally possible, all services as well as banking, supplies and labor should be drawn from the local area. Local real estate agents and brokers should market the houses.
Removing the substandard and abandoned properties from the rental market rewards the good landlords who maintain their property, places a reasonable floor under the rental market, enhances nearby property values and improves the general appearance of the town.
This era of perilous economic conditions may bring as many opportunities as it brings pitfalls. We should be prepared to take advantage of any opportunities that come our way. An institution like Renew Carbondale has the potential for helping revitalize our town.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Upcoming Internet Safety Seminar
Courtesy of the City Clerk's office:
Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole invite parents, teachers, school administrators and other interested parties throughout Southern Illinois to attend an:
INTERNET SAFETY SEMINAR
Thursday, April 2, 2009
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. (including a question and answer period)
Carbondale Civic Center
200 South Illinois Avenue
NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED - - - ADMISSION IS FREE!
More on Justin Stofferahn
--establishing a city funded weatherproofing program targeted primarily to start at home purchased under the city’s rental conversion grant program. Unlike current state and federal weatherproofing programs which target lower income families, this program would tie in with the grant program so that new homeowners would also have funds available to make the building more energy efficient.
--post notices of housing violations on the city’s website in a database searchable by location. He feels this would be of great assistance especially to students who would like to find out about problems a property had in the past before the student signs the lease.
--establish a tiered schedule of fines for noise violations. This one actually came out of a meeting between city residents and Carbondale interim police chief Grubbs, with recurring noise violations mentioned by several attendees as a problem needing addressing. In general, first violations at a location would get the basic fine, while subsequent calls would increase the ticket amount significantly.
--set up a program, funded by the city and administered by SIUC’s financial aid office, to provide 100 $200 grants to SIUC students to help defer the cost of textbook purchases through Carbondale bookstores,
He’s not sure from where funding would come for the two grant programs, so they would wait until the city gets on a stronger financial footing or he has found an alternative funding source. The increased ticket amounts for recurring noise violations and the searchable database of housing code violations, he would work on getting council approval and implemented as soon as possible. Stofferahn would also like to see the budgeting process opened up with multiple hearings on different sections of the budget. He feels that one hearing and a vote is just not enough discussion to decide how to spend 42 million taxpayer dollars.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Planning Commission Non-meeting
Next up was the swearing in of new C'dale police officer Barry Bailey ( sp?). He left right afterward, followed by about 10 people, family members, I'd guess. The announcement afterward that Feb 23rd was designated Rotary International Day in the city freed up another dozen or so seats after the obligatory picture.
No citizens comments or public hearings so the mayor moved straight into the consent agenda, with everything passing as a group, except for item 2 which Councilman Fritzler asked to have voted on separately since he wanted to discuss travel expenditures by the mayor (about $3300) and other staff members. Fritzler pointed out that some staff members were traveling and training on the city's dime, then leaving city employment soon after and wondered if there was some way to prevent avoid this. The mayor responded that the city manager was looking into it. The exchange went much more smoothly this time then their last one.
Then, it was time for the big event, the reason so many people had shown up, the consideration of funding requests for community organziations. These were pre-applications that had to be submitted for evaluation and council approval prior to actual funding in April when the 2010 budget is set. All of the requests were approved without debate except two.
Carbondale Main Street had requested a 3% increase in funding to $12,021, while the city staff recommended funding remain at $11,660 and the lower amount was the official amount being voted on. Lance Jack moved the funding increase back to the original $12,210 level and the increase passed, with the mayor and Councilman Haynes voting against.
WDBX's $4000 request was the other item voted on separately, with the funding earmarked for a stand-by generator for the station. The radio station originally planned to ask the city to fund the full $8000 cost but had been told they funding was more likely to get approved in the form of a 50/50 grant, with the station raising half the necessary funds. The station's rationale for asking was that, in an emergency, the city could use the station's transmitter to communicate to the region. However, when asked, Jim Wall, vice-chair of WDBX's board said they station had not raised any matching funds yet. The funding request was voted down with only Councilman Wissmann and Councilwoman McDaniel in favor. Mayor Cole did suggest that the council would look more favorably on the request in the future if matching funds were raised.
The only other groups speaking were representatives from the Boy's and Girl's Club and the I Can Read program, both of which brought program participants to thank the council for past funding and tell how the respective program had benefited them. After announcements about the Boy's and Girl's Club Night at the Oscars fundraiser and the African American Museum's Obama exhibit reception, the meeting adjourned about 7:55.
Update: The DE has a report up on the meeting as well
Update: Here's the Southern's article on the meeting. I see it has the old figure for Carbondale Main Street's funding.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Tap property has 55 feet of frontage and depth of 100 feet. All utilities are on the lot and a new sewer tap and service line were recently installed. Any development there would get a major real estate incentive through the Enterprise Zone. This is due to the City owning it and the lot does not have an assessed value. Therefore all of the improved value would receive 100% abatement for 5 years and then 50% abatement for the second 5 years.
Update: I just realized it's been over 4 years since the Tap was demolished.
Fund Raising for Travel
Monday, February 16, 2009
Calling All Artists
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Black Gospel Music
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Not Good for Burris
--city assistance for middle income families in weatherproofing their homes
--housing code violations online by location
--increased fines for additional noise violations at the same location
--city funded grant program to help students buy textbooks
Stofferahn got interested in running for city council after becoming friends with Joe Moore and hearing about his experiences while running for council. His interest in politics in general grew while interning for Sen. Durbin last summer and currently he's interning for Rep John Bradley and serving as president of the College Democrats (who really need to update their website). He's a junior at SIUC but will stay in the area to serve out the 4 year term.
Upcoming events include a fund raising concert at the Big Muddy Independent Media Center, a forum on campus sponsored by the Students for Peace and Democracy (who need to update their website too, but not as badly as the Democrats) and forums/debates on March 23, sponsored by the AARP and March 24, by the Jackson County League of Women Voters (the Jackson County League of Men Voters being defunct since 1983).
Friday, February 13, 2009
Laraine Wright Transcript
It Never Ends, Does It?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sexual Assault Update
On Saturday February 7, 2009, at 9:00 p.m. the City of Carbondale Police Department received a report of a criminal sexual assault. The victim, a 20 year Carbondale woman, reported she was pushed into some shrubbery and sexually assaulted while walking near the intersection of West Main Street and Illinois Avenue.
The victim reported the suspect was a college age black male with green or yellow eyes, about 5'08" tall, medium build, with sideburns. The victim said the suspect was neatly dressed, wearing a white baseball cap (worn sideways), and a beige sweater. The victim said the suspect met her while she was walking from the area of East Grand Avenue and South Wall Street to where the attack occurred. The victim said the suspect was very polite prior to the attack, and told her his name was “Mike ”.
The victim also reported a male and female walked down the sidewalk during the attack. She said the couple may not have realized she was being attacked.
The Carbondale Police Department would like anyone who may have seen this incident or the suspect to please call (618) 457-3200. Anyone with information about this incident can call the Crimestoppers line at (618) 549-COPS (2677) where callers can remain anonymous. Anonymous tips can also be made online by selecting “Crimestoppers” on the main page of this website.
Strolling Down Illinois
The Country Goddess is now located in their new digs at the corner of College and Illinois. No posted hours of operation though. Haven't heard if they ever caught the idiot that did this.
Saluki Central is closed. Closed up last Sept, which shows how often I've gotten to that area.
Fat Patties looks closed and there's no signage up announcing an opening but I've been told everything, including kitchen equiptment, is installed and ready to go. Lance Jack fired up the grills last weekend and cooked burgers for a select few.
I did finally find the plaques. There's one in front of the Chamber of Commerce offices, which shows the Stars on Main logo, one in front of the Varsity Center for the Arts, also with the logo and two on the sidewalk by the Carbondale Labyrinth, one with the Stars on Main logo (they sure love that logo) and one with an illustration of 60's Carbondale resident and world class thinker Buckminister Fuller (warning: 41 minute video here).
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Designate major gateways
Update downtown plan
Improve Grand Ave. from Lewis Land to Gian City road
Construct Mill Street Underpass
Widen and realign 51 from Mill Street to Old Rt 51
Extend Sycamore to Rt 51 north
Relocate west side fire station
Build public safety building
Still not done
Revise zoning planning agreement with Murphysboro
Initiate land transfers with SIUC to extend Mill to Chautauqua
Construct teen center
Traffic lights at Mill and Chautauqua
Encourage cross easements at Ill. 13/US51
Construct street north of University Place between Lewis Lane and Giant City Road
Extend McKinney Ave from Lowe's entrance to the above
Improve Giant City Road from terminus north of Rt. 13 to proposed bypass
Secure jurisdiction development agreements with surrounding communities
Establish a system of truck routes
Develop an additional industrial park
Develop plantings for major gateways
Create an open space//pocket park in west central area
Bury utilities downtown
Extend Oak to Lewis Lane
After you get the land transfers, actually extend Mill to Chautauqua
Extend Crab Orchards Estates access road to Reed Station Rd.
Undertake planning and design for North Carbondale bypass (hard to do due to the wetlands there)
Connect superblock access from Walnut to College
Tuscan Lodge Update
There is a thriving demand for old bricks, especially for landscaping and remodeling projects. When I had some work done on my chimney a couple of years ago, I was told by the mason that he had pulled down chimneys like mine for no charge, as long as he could have the bricks from them.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"We had a report of a sexual assault that occurred elsewhere in the City which is being investigated. Details of that investigation are not being released at this time."
Jerry Costello on Lilly Ledbetter
I wanted to drop you a note to update you on legislative matters that may be of interest.
As you may know, the first bill passed by Congress during the 111th Congress and signed into law by President Obama was
S. 181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation is an important step toward ensuring the concept of equal pay for equal work.
Lilly Ledbetter was an executive at Goodyear Tire who after almost two decades with the company realized she was making less in her position than men who had much less experience. She sued for pay discrimination, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in a contentious 2007 decision that she had waited too long to file her claim, stating that claims needed to be filed within six months of the initial discrimination occurring. Ledbetter was not aware of the discrimination within that timeframe, making it impossible to seek legal action.
To correct this problem, S. 181 changes the statute of limitations in such cases back to what it was prior to the 2007 ruling, that such a suit can be filed within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck. This change places the law on the side of those discriminated against, and should serve as a deterrent to companies from pursuing unfair pay practices. I supported this bill and will continue to support legislation that promotes workplace fairness.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Snow and SIUC
Let me just say that every student on this campus has the right to be extremely angry with the decisions made. But, there is more to this than what you guys are covering. Find out why, up until last year, this campus was always kept free of snow and ice, no matter how large the storm. Find out who made the decision to force the groundsworkers to go home during the storm for the second straight year. Find out why we were not allowed to fight this storm until it was all over with. Decisions are being made that merit investigating. 3 people are making the decisions resulting in this winter weather fiasco. They need to be exposed, as do their feelings regarding the safety of the students. Do not let this topic die!!! I implore you.....and yes, I am speaking from inside the dept responsible. For obvious reasons, I need others to follow up on this. The information is available. Ask the right questions. Research how snow removal was done in the past which was so successful, up until last year.
Banks and Debt
Sunday, February 8, 2009
SIU Board and Ex-Gov. Blago
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Businesses Leaving Carbondale
Cole said some stores had 10 percent or greater profits this year, but said he would not disclose the names of those businesses
Update: Checked with Kevin Baity and was told the city doesn't have an official list, the 25 business figure was compiled from various sources: Chamber of Commerce, Carbondale Main Street, enterprise zone certificates, occupancy permits, etc.
Out of town
Friday, February 6, 2009
Tuscan Lodge Demolition Costs
Update: Looks like the demolition will start in less a month and will take about three weeks to complete
Darwin Day Coming
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Simon Institute Director Announced Today
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Well, That Was Fast
The Mayor and council members Fritzler and Wissmann complemented city staff on the job they did in keeping city operations running smoothly during the snow, then recessed at 7:26 to go into closed meeting to review closed meetings. There is a chance the council will come back into session to anounce a snowplow attack on Marion, Hub of the Universe, but I doubt it.
City Council Agenda
1. Roll Call
2. General Announcements and Proclamations
3. Citizens' Comments and Questions
4. Public Hearing and Special Reports
- Public Hearing on the Proposed Vacation of aCertain Alley Running North/South Between West Baird Street and West Rigdon Street and Bounded by 500 and 504 West Baird Street
- Public Hearing on Annexation Agreement Between the City of Carbondale and Michael and Janet Althoff for Froesch Acres
5. Consent Agenda
- Approval of Minutes of the Regular City Council Meeting Held on January 13, 2009
- Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 12/29/08. FY 2009 Warrant # 1055
- Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 1/12/09. FY 2009 Warrant # 1056
- Acceptance of Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees
- Appointments to Boards and Commissions
- Acceptance of Deeds and Easements
- Award of Contract for City Reservoir Spillway Outlet Channel Erosion Control, CIP No. WS0907
- Ordinance Approving an Annexation Agreement Between the City of Carbondale and Michael and Janet Althoff for Foresch Acres
- Resolution Approving the Froesch Acres Subdivision and Subdivision Agreement Located on North County Line Road
- Ordinance Amending Title Six of the Carbondale Revised Code to Include Burials Within Snider Hill Cemetery
- Ordinance Vacating a Certain Alley Running North/South Between West Baird Street and West Rigdon Street and Bounded by 500 and 504 West Baird Srreet
- Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Amendment No.1 to an Engineering Service Agreement With Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc.,for Water Storage Improvements (WS0201), Approval of an Amendment to the Five-Year Community Investment Program and Budget Adjustment
6. General Business
- Award of Contract for Demolition of 201 North Washington Street (Tuscan Lodge) and 204 East Jackson Street (old Fish Market)
- Ordinance Authorizing the Filing of Condemnation Actions to Obtain Real Estate for the Reed Station Road Corridor Widening Project
7. Council Comments
8. Closed Meeting
- Closed Meeting to Conduct the Semi-Annual Review of Closed Meetingg Minutes
Chief Grubbs heavily emphasized checking the police department's website for the latest information regarding crimes in the city and signing up for emailed press releases from the department but never did explain why the Neighborhood Watch officer couldn't set up a mailbox to send out emails to the Neighborhood Watch captains regarding incidents in their neighborhoods. The chief reacted without much enthusiasm to the idea of a My Space or Facebook page for the department, saying he preferred to funnel people to the department website rather than pushing information out. He also said crime in Carbondale was at "the low end of a 10 year cycle" and that burglaries in the District were half what they were the previous August through January.
There was also some concern expressed about enforcing maintenance codes regarding vacant and rental properties, which Manager Gill said would be looked into. When an inquiry was made about additional street lighting, Gill said if a list of requested spots was turned into his office, the city would survey them and see if the site met the regulations for installing another light. The meeting ended shortly thereafter.
Costello on Stimulus Package
Monday, February 2, 2009
Carbondale Homicide and Arrest
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Most of my posting here, as on the Bytelife, will focus on news and events here in Carbondale and Illinois, with some digression into national and world affairs if I find something I think may have been overlooked. You will have to register if you wish to post a comment, mainly becaue it's easier to respond to a particular posting if there's a name attatched to it rather than it being one of a series of "anonymous"es. Thanks