Thursday, December 27, 2012

City Council Meeting

Special meeting of the city council tonight to approve the two new TIF Districts that the city has treated as already approved.  Technically, the already existing downtown district will expand significantly while the other will encourage development in the Oakland/Sycamore area. Of course, for any development to take place on Oakland or Sycamore, the city will have to rezone the area, either allowing businesses or apartments, as it really wouldn't make sense for a developer to put in single family residences.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Street Clearing

The city has done a fine job so far of cleaning the main streets.  Walnut and Main are both clear so far as I can see and most of the major side streets such as Oakland, Poplar, Oak and Mill are readily passable, but there are some of the lesser traveled side streets that still need work, which makes me wonder why one of the blow trucks just headed down the right side of Main again.  It plowed the very edge of the street, which didn't appreciably remove more snow that was impeding traffic.  All it seemed to do was throw up a foot high pile of snow blocking what had been ready access to parking lots on that side of the street.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bald Knob Cross

In case you are looking for something to do on the 22nd that doesn't involve running around doing last minute shopping and don't mind driving out into the southern Illinois hinterlands, the Bald Knob Cross relighting ceremony starts at 5 p.m. with the actual turning on of the lights at 5:30

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SIUC Debate Team

In case you were not aware of this, SIUC has a nationally ranked debate squad, with botth the #1 and #7 teams in the country on the squad.  The squad's performance at the national level dates back to the late 1980s, with about a 10 year absence from the national stage from the late 1990s through 2008.  One would think, with this sort of performance, the debae program would get a lot more attention from the university and the community.  After all, it's competitive, which people like, and it lets the univeristy perform at the national level.  Maybe have the Dawg Pound put in aan appearnace ins support of the debate squad or have Director of Debate Dr. Todd Graham come speak to the Chamber of Commerce.  After all, if Coach Lennon gets an invite to speak, shouldn't Coach Graham?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Special City Council Meeting

Tuesday Night at 7 p.m.  On the agenda, mainly taxes. There's an ordinance abating the scheduled levy of property taxes on a series of 2003 General Obligation Bonds, one raising property taxes by 4.99%  in accordance with state law requiring city council to adopt the levy approved by the library's board of directors.  From what I understand, council plans to pull money out of the city's general funds to cover needed expenditures and avoid raising property taxes over 5%, which would trigger state required truth in taxation hearings.

The last item on the agenda finalizes the already  approved continuation of the downtown SSA for Carbondale Main Street.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Southern Illinois Aids Holiday Project

 Passing along an email

Southern IL AIDS Holiday Project Still Needs Support

The AIDS Holiday Project is working to meet the needs of over 150 low-income households impacted by HIV / AIDS in the 19 southern-most counties of Illinois.

There are still households in Carbondale, Murphysboro and Benton that still need support.  We have wish lists from households that includes clothing sizes.  To sponsor a family, contact Wally Paynter at or 812-480-0204

Donation can be made on-line at either or or sent by mail to Holiday Project c/o Wally Paynter, 908 B Oak Street, Carmi, IL 62821.

Friday, December 14, 2012

El Baijo Closed

The second Mexican related closing I have noticed recently, El Baijo on East Main has "Closed Down" on its sign.  I am assuming permanently, since there is no indication they just closed for vacation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Navreet Kang on Attendance

Since Navreet Kang's comment was posted in response to a post of a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to make sure more people read it:

I saw that a mention was made of my attendance at the Planning Commission meetings during the past year. Yes, it was 33% but it was due to some extenuating circumstances, and yes, I do care to elaborate. If anyone cares to go back longer, you're welcome to look it up at the city hall. My attendance record was even better, but here is my past five years' attendance record:

Year Attendance

2007 100%
2008 100%
2009 78%
2010 75%
2011 33%

In 2010, I had a baby boy, and my wife was working mostly evenings while I had to take care of my son during those times, thus missing the meetings. I had always offered to attend in case there was a lack of quorum to the Planning Division. I wanted to seek a seat on the City Council 3 years ago, but due to these commitments, I stayed back. Now my son will be 3 years old, and my wife having better employment hours, I will be able to devote all the time necessary to carry out my duties as a Councilman.

Navreet Kang

City Council Meeting

Last night's City Council meeting got rolling fairly late last night.  I didn't turn on the television to watch until after 8 and the public hearings regarding establishment of the two new TIF districts were still going on.

Given that I had been told during earlier in the day that there was no opposition to establishing either TIF district (incidentally, it rather surprised me to hear both Mayor Fritzler and City Manager Kevin Baity refer to the two TIF districts as established rather than proposed in their State of the City speeches.  Neither has been approved by council yet, hence tonight's hearings), the number of people who rose to speak against TIF district #3, encompassing the old school complex, the National Guard Armory and the stretch of Oakland between the two, surprised me. Almost all were concerned with business encroaching into what is currently an area zoned for residential use.  Baity pointed out the area would have to be rezoned in order for a purchaser to make any business use of the properties.

This, of course, leads to two quetsions:

1. Why is Oakland Avenue Auto Repair still operating in an area zoned for residential use?
2.  What use could any purchaser make of either the Armory or high school buildings unless they are rezoned or granted a special use exemption?  Neither is suitable for residential use as they stand.

The proposal to move appointment of the city clerk back under the city manager passed with only one vote against it.  The major concern appeared that the clerk's position was important enough that the holder of the position should come directly under council control.  However, the rest of the council did not share the same concerns.

The request for more funds for the Convention and Tourism Bureau passed without any controversy. Since I sit on the CCTB board, I will pass on making any further comments.

Next up was a revision to Carbondale's panhandling ordinance banning unlawful panhandling on an business zoned property or any public property.  Two groups spoke regarding the ordinance.   One, business owners and organizations representing them argued that aggressive panhandlers affected business, disturbed customers and made employees feel unsafe. The other, community organizers and activists, argued that the ordinance would made it harder for the homeless and others living in poverty to get money for food and shelter.  Councilman Don Monty pointed out that the ordinance had no effect upon those who stood on a corner with a sign asking for donations, it was aimed at those who asked for money multiple times after being rebuffed originally.  If memory serves, I believe this passed, after lots of discussion, six to one.

During the discussion, it gradually became apparent that there are only about a dozen or so panhandlers in Carbondale that engage in the aggressive panhandling that disturbs businesses.  A reading of the relevant ordinance indicates that aggressive panhandling of the type described during the discussion is already illegal throughout the city, so it's not apparent what effect specifying more places where one cannot unlawfully panhandle will have, since according to the current ordinance, they can't do it already.  Seems to me it would be better to enforce the current ordinance against the dozen or so abusers rather than add on to the code.

If electrical aggregation takes place as I understand it from the discussion over the ordinance and we see the savings alluded to by councilmen Chris Wissmann and Don Monty, this should prove a winning proposition for the city and its residents.  From what I understand, Carbondale, along with Marion, West Frankfort and other communities, selected Select Energy Partners  to negotiate an price for electricity with a supplier.  Once a contract is negotiated, Carbondale will have to purchase from that supplier but could choose a different plan than other communities, i.e. Marion could select a plan that draws 10% of its electricity from green sources while Carbondale could choose one that drew 25%.  Carbondale residents will have the option to opt out, on an individual basis, of the negotiated contract and remain with their current (or another) provider.  This passed unaimously.

Finally, council voted to join the Southern Illinois Municipal Planning Organization, which includes all communities from Carbondale eastward to Marion.  The organization will focus on analyzing transportation needs for the area and federal law, dating back to the 1960s, mandates that municipalities must form one once the region's population exceeds 50,000 or forgo federal transportation dollars. Since we don't want to forgo federal transportation dollars, we join, unanimously.

Since it was now 11:30, I decide to skip citizen and council comments, though I did notice council candidates Jessica Bradshaw and Carolin Harvey still in the audience with Pepper Holder approaching the microphone as I left.

Liaison Technologies

As Mayor Fritzler mentioned in his State of the City address yesterday, Liaison Technologies is hosting a job fair today, looking to fill about 35 job openings.  More information here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

State of the City Address

Caught Mayor Fritzler's State of the City Address this afternoon. Apparently we have a McAllister's Deli coming to town and can expect to see (hopefully) Bandana's BBQ opening by the end of December.  2013 should see a new fire station open on the west side of town (and apparently, by some measure, Carbondale's fire department ranks in the top 10% of fire departments nationwide), work started on a bike path along the railroad tracks from campus to Town Square and long needed repairs and upgrades to the city's sewer and water systems.

Sales tax receipts have increased slightly but pension requirements still require substantial funding from the city and are of major concern.

The thing that really caught my attention was the mayor's reference to developing downtown as an "entertainment district". Others have proposed such a focus before, with talk veering betwix looking at downtown as the heart of Carbondale, as a shopping area or an entertainment district.  The entertainment district concept always seemed highly viable, especially given the concentration of bars and restaurants in the area, along with the Varsity Center for the Arts. What really struck me though was the mayor's reference to proposing some funding to actually develop the proposal in the form of an entertainment or food and drink tax or fee.  It will be interesting to see if anything actually comes of this, especially in conjunction with Carbondale Main Street's storefront rehabilitation projects.

Monday, December 10, 2012

City Council Meeting

The city council meets tomorrow night with quite a bit on the agenda. First up are public hearings on a pair of proposed TIF Districts, one expanding the current downtown area and the other setting up one encompassing the old high school complex and National Guard Armory on N. Oakland.  According to the minutes, council will not vote on these tonight, just hold the hearings.  I would expect the Northwest Carbondale Community Organization to have a representative at the meeting, as the proposed N. Oakland TIF brackets Oakland Avenue Auto Repair and would encourage more development in the area.  Avery Home Furnishings already uses the National Guard Armory for storage of overstock and I have heard rumors of a RC track coming to the property as well.

Council will have to approve this warrant as well, the largest of payments going to fire and police pensions and the Carbondale Public Library.

The annual report of the Planning Commission makes for some interesting reading.  Requests for rezoning and special uses have dropped by half from earlier in the decade.  Also, Commission member Navreet Kang, who is seeking a seat on the city council next year, attended only a third of the meetings, while member  Carolin Harvey attended all of them.

Also on the agenda is a proposal allowing the City Manager to appoint the City Clerk.  For most of the city's history, the mayor appointed the city clerk, with approval by the council in later years.  In 2003, council voted to allow the city manger to appoint the city clerk, only to change back in 2008.  Now, council wants to again put the clerk under direction of the City Manager, with authority to remove them from the office with approval of the mayor and council.

The Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau is requesting additional money from the funds held by the city from the hotel/motel tax  Total amount requested is about $188,000.

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce has asked the city to strengthen its ordinances regarding aggressive panhandling. The ordinance would ban panhandling on a property zoned for business or on public property.  Not certain how this would stand up to a freedom of speech challenge. I have had discussions about panhandling with businesses in downtown and the freedom of speech concern has always come up.    A couple of months ago, Cape Girardeau's anti-flyering ordinance was overturned on a challenge from the  Ku Klux Klan as an infringement on the organization's freedom to communicate its message on unoccupied cars.  While not the same as someone walking up and asking you for money on public property, I could certainly see someone making a similar legal argument that the ordinance infringed on their right of free speech.

Finally, we have an ordinance authorizing the city manager to enter into an agreement with with other governing bodies in the region for the purpose of electrical aggregation through Select Energy Partners.  This just starts the negotiations so no idea when we might see any results.

Update:  Did want to point out, as was noted in an email, that Kang  has a new child, which accounts for many of his absences.  Prior to this year, his attendance ranged from 75 to 100%

Mexican Grocery

A & B Mexican Grocery on the west side of town, just off New Era Road, has closed.  I hadn't seen any signs of business there  for a couple of weeks.  The store is empty of products and there is a "For Rent" sign in the front window.  Guess using the traffic generated by El Vaquero restaurant to sell Mexican groceries to traffic didn't work out as well as hoped.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Market

In case you would like to catch the grand opening of the Carbondale Winter Farmer's Market, it is tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Thomas School.  Not sure where at Thomas School but expect there will be signs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fight on Campus

The DE has a story on a fight on campus this weekend involving at least 10 people.  It appears most of them have been banned from campus pending further investigation

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pita Alley

Pita Alley, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine/food, recently opened at 1711 West Main St.  So far the reviews have been good.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lights Fantastic

In case you are wondering about the Lights Fantastic parade tomorrow, here's the schedule of events.  Here's the list of stores particpating in the downtown cookie walk and here's the parade route so you can avoid street closures.  Police will start towing cars parked on the parade route at 4:30 with streets closing at 5 p.m.  Parade staging area will close to traffic at 3:15.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

City Council Candidates

Here's the official list of candidates running for the three open city council seats. Lee Fronabarger is the only councilman seeking re-election.  Of the rest on the list, Brent Ritzel ran for mayor during the last election, while Jessica Bradshaw and Jerrold Hennrich both sought council seats.  Navreet Kang serves as chair of the Planning Commission and Carl Flowers has served on the Carbondale Park District board in the past.  Pepper Holder is a long time community activist who ran for mayor in 2006, while Blaine Tisdale serves on the city's Human Relations Commission.  Not sure about the others.  Can anyone provide bonafides on them?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TIF Districts Redeaux

Given that the city will be discussing creating two new TIF Districts at its December 11 meeting, it is interesting to see them already listed as existing rather than proposed on the city's website.  I noticed this a couple of weeks ago when writing about the sale of the National Guard Armory but thought I had misunderstood and that council had already approved them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Small Business Saturday

Just some thoughts about Small Business Saturday.  It's a good idea but some major problems in execution.

If you haven't heard of it, Small Business Saturday is a promotion by  American Express set the day after Black Friday.  AmEx makes a big deal of this, offering free advertising to participating businesses, listing them on a website and offering a $25 credit to AmEx using customers who register their cards and spend at least $25 in a participating retailer.

The idea is good, I am in favor of anything that drives business into local retailers.  However, I question the wisdom of placing it on the Saturday after Black Friday for a couple of reasons.

First, the Saturday after Black Friday is arguably the third busiest shopping day of the year, only topped by Black Friday itself and the Saturday prior to Christmas.  It doesn't need any additional promotion to draw more customers into local stores. They are out there and they are spending and Saturday gets a lot of additional spillover in terms of spending from Black Friday.

Second, having it on such a busy day makes it very hard to quantify the effect of all the promotion.  Were increased sales due to Small Business Saturday or due to the halo effect of Black Friday?  I can see if Small Business Saturday had an effect on AmEx sales as I can easily measure the number of purchases made with AmEx on SBS and compare them with a typical Saturday (FYI, it did bump AmEx sales up) but it would be much easier to quantify the effect on local business if AmEx would put this focus on a Saturday outside the holiday season.

Thirds, if you are a local retailer and doing anything with Black Friday, you are are trying to develop two promotions for major events that take place within 48 hours. That's a lot of work for a small retailer with limited hours, staff and funding.  Moving SBS to a different Saturday would allow greater focus by retailers on both events, rather than diluting the attention paid to each.

Still a good program but certainly think the date should be moved, but I don't think AmEx will pay that much attention to one blog post.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Carbondale Christmas Lights

Carbondale lampost Christmas lights and the lights around the Town Square are up now.  Bit early, but then we do have one more Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eddie's Auto Service

In case you missed it, Eddie's Auto Service has moved into the location formerly occupied by Today's Technology at 1000 East Main, which, by this count, makes 63 places you can go in Carbondale to get your car repaired.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

National Guard Armory Sold

From what I have heard, it sold to one of the owners of Alpha Rentals who is remodeling part of the facility for storage and a maintenance shop for the rental business. A couple of other busiinesses in town are also using part of the facility as storage as well.

The city has included the area in the  TIFF district #3, which runs from the Armory building south on Oakland to encompass the old high school complex on the east side of Oakland.  Interestingly, the athletic fields, which are under consideration for development as state-subsidized housing, are not currently included in the boundaries of the district.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Slow News Day

Must be a slow news day at the Southern if succession makes the front page, above the fold even.  Let's see, there are 26.5 million people living in Texas and 90,000 of them signed a petition for succession.  13 million people in Illinois and 2,400 signed one.  Yep, that's a groundswell, all right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Strategic Plan

Apparently "Southern at 150" has been consigned to the dustbin of history.  I am not sure how we are in a "different era for public higher education."  Does that fact that less money is floating around make it a different era?  Does this mean that, since Saluki Way was part of Southern at 150, work will cease on it while the university develops another strategic plan?

I get the feeling that, ever since Walter Wendler was forced out as Chancellor, the university has planned to scrap his ambitious (and tainted by charges of plagerism) strategic plan.  Now, quietly it has and we shall see what is presented as the next plan to lead SIUC back to greatness (or at least increasing enrollments.).

Monday, November 12, 2012

City Council Meeting

The City Council will meet on November 13 at 7 p.m.  Apparent "Plaquegate", as the Carbondale Times termed it in an issue last week, has proved enough of a burr under the saddle of several city council members that a ordinance outlawing the placement of plaques, statues, etc. without council approval has made it on the agenda. 

Also on the agenda, the extension of Carbondale Main Street's SSA (I understand that Herb Donow has been contacted regarding investments by CMS in the downtown area, including one signage grant to a tenant in his Island Building at 715 S. University).  Another ordinance sets more specifics for decorations and stones at Oakland Cemetery while a third will transfer a small plot of city property at the corner of Marion and Oak Streets to Common Greens to establish a community garden to raise fruits and vegetables for the benefit of the community.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winter Farmer's Market

Looks as if we have a Winter Farmer's Market starting in the cafeteria of Thomas School the weekend after the Murdale Farmer's Market shuts down. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. December 1 through March 23.

Brick House Living

BrickHouse Living, which only opened its doors a couple of months ago on S. Illinois, appears to have shuttered.  No merchandise remains in the store and that white square on the door is a handwritten "Closed" sign.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quizno's Closed

The downtown Quizno's on S. Illinois has limped along for quite some time and a reader of the blog let me know that it had finally shuttered its doors for good last week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Voted about 8 a.m. this morning and this is the busiest I have seen the polling place in several elections.  I don't remember this many people during the last presidential election.  Polling place workers are being more cautious too and checking IDs, though I didn't need to show a photo one and they didn't push it when one voter didn't want to show one.  Two people had problems with registration while I stood in line, both living someplace other than the address at which they had registered. Polling staff told them not to worry and got on the phone with someone immediately.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cole Plaques

Been amused by the recent (in the last day or so) kerfluffle over the placement of a plaque on the Public Safety Center honoring the death of officer Lenard “Lon” Sizemore in 1933 and a tribute to all officers that have served the city of Carbondale.  The plaque, apparently at the direction of Mayor Fritzler, was placed over a stone on the building bearing the building's name, date of completion and the name of former Mayor Brad Cole.  Three councilmemebers, Jane Adams, Don Monty and Corene McDaniels expressed concern over the placement with McDaniels sounding especially concerned:

It’s like acting as though Mayor Cole didn’t exist,” McDaniel said.

I don't see that having a chance of happening as at least six plaques in Carbondale bear the name of the former mayor including one installed inside the Public Safety Center

one at Friendship Plaza, 2 of the same plaque on the 2nd floor of City Hall, one at the Arena and one commemorating Daniel Brush on the town square.

By my count, former Mayor Cole has more plaques mentioning him alone than all other mayors of Carbondale combined.  I sincerely doubt his name has much chance of being obliterated.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Business

D. C Gold Exchange is moving into the empty space at 211 West Main, next to La Unica Bakery.  From a brief conversation with the owner, there are several locations in the eastern US.  He has family in the area and thought Carbondale would be a good location for another.  Remodeling going on now with no indication when opening will take place.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Haunted Carbondale Hundley Gravesites

These are the gravestones of those associated with the most famous unsolved murder in Carbondale's history, that of J. C. and Ella Hundley and J. C.'s son ( and Ella's stepson), Victor.

Someone murdered the elder Hundleys in December of 1928 in their home, still known as Hundley House.  Victor was the prime suspect and only person ever brought to trial for the crime, and quickly acquitted.   Victor and his wife left the area for a few years, apparently living in St. Louis where they separated/divorced. She and their daughter vanish from the story, but Victor returned to Carbondale, living an isolated existence on the outskirts of Carbondale until his death of a heart attack in the early '60s.

In case you fancy yourself a cold case detective, the city of Carbondale still has a $1000 reward on the books for whomever committed the murder.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Haunted Carbondale Schwartz Mausoleum

This is a photo of the Schwartz Mausoleum, located in Oakland Cemetery at the north end of Oakland Avenue. According to stories, the door has been found unlocked on occasion.  Those venturing inside will see the image of a young woman on the window at the opposite end.  She will slowly turn and look at you, at which point you better get out of there.  According to one person, a FOAF (Friend of a Friend) did not leave fast enough and the door closed and locked behind him.  He woke up the next morning, lying on the grass outside the mausoleum.

I occasionally used to find partially burnt candles on the steps in front of the building, two or three at a time, typically in the morning, but haven't seen any for a couple of years now.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Progresssive City Award

AmerinIllinois has named Carbondale a Most Progressive City for the number of businesses in town that have completed Act On Energy projects.  Eight businesses have completed 19 projects saving over 1.3 million kilowatts.  Not shabby.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Intertape Polymer

The Carbondale Observer brings up a good point about the Intertape Polymer ordinance passed last night, giving a total of $246,500 in land and forgivable loans to the corporation, with the provision that the corporation retain its current number of employees and add a minimum of 37 to its payroll bringing the total to 105.  As the Observer points out, this amounts to a one-time subsidy of $6662.12 per job. 

Is paying a corporation for jobs a good use of tax dollars?  In most cases, the research says "no" as they are usually accompanied by poor or no oversight.  Assuming the city does provide oversight and the jobs do remain for the five year period covered by the agreement, this might be a worthwhile subsidy, though.  I have no idea what type of jobs will come in, but assuming they meet last year's US average of $43,000 per year, they would bring in $7,955,000 to the local economy at a cost to the taxpayers of about 3.1% per job.  Given that about 20% of the subsidy was in land that the city did  not appear to have much chance of selling in the near future and that we are seeing approximately $1 billion in equipment transferred in or purchased for use at the expanded facility, again helping stimulate the economy, right now this seems a pretty good investment by the city.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

City Council Meeting 10/23/12

Listening to the city council meeting.  According to city manager Baity, we will see online streaming of council meetings by the next council meeting and the water and sewer office is getting remodeled to put more teller-like windows in so that office workers and customers will be at the same eye level.

Local landlord Herb Donow, owner of the Island and Julia buildings among other properties and a former member of the Carbondale Main Street Board, spoke against renewal of the Special Services Area that provides partial funding for Carbondale Main Street in the form of a property tax on locations within the SSA. Donow's major complaint is that Main Street has received the funding for 15 years and he has seen much more focus by the organization on the northern end of Illinois Avenue, around the Town Square, than on the south end, where several of his properties are located.  He requested that the item reauthorizing the SSA be pulled from the consent agenda and put up to a vote on its own.

It was, and Donow requested that council either, redraw the SSA boundaries to eliminate areas that he felt were not receiving benefits from Carbondale Main Street, eliminate the SSA, or set a shorter renewal period (currently it is five years). Tom Redmond, a member of the CMS board, also spoke to the council, noting this was the first time he had  heard Donow's concerns and urging him and other downtown property owners to contact CMS with concerns and proposals.  Council's eventual consensus was to table the item and bring it up at the next meeting, giving Donow and others time to provide materials to council supporting the action they want taken.

Gus Karayanis  (I think, might have been John) co-owner of the now closed Underground Pub and Grille rose to speak after Donow, not so much about the SSA but to complain that for fifteen years he has approached the city regarding the naming of the street that runs on two sides of this restaurant, both of which are officially named S. University, making it harder for people to find the restaurant.  Manager Baity asked him to contact his office later in the week to discuss it.  Not sure why it hadn't been taken care of before if Karayanis has approached the city a number of times over the years.

Much of the rest of the meeting focused on approving hearings for proposed changes to Carbondale's TIF Districts and amending the proposed Planned Unit Development for Liberty Village which attracted much less controversy than I expected.m

Finally, SIUC  requested the expansion of its liquor license to other venues than the Arena, Student Center and the Stadium, pointing out that it often had events at other locations on campus where it would like the ability to sell liquor, primarily in conjugation with events held at those locations.  After some discussion and an amendment, which I missed, the change in the ordinance passed.

Now we are in citizen comments with one resident complaining about her property taxes and how many different taxing bodies collect part of the property tax, as well as the smell of her water.  Mayor Fritzler pointed out that the state of Illinois has more taxing bodies than any other state in the union and that a change over in the water system is causing the smell which has affected a number of people in the community.  Another resident brought up a concern he has brought up before council previously, the lack of tiedowns and lights on tow trucks pulling towed vehicles in town and asking for greater enforcement of the ordinances requiring them.

Update:  according to the Southern, council approved the proposed development at Liberty Village.

Monday, October 22, 2012

City Council Meeting Tomorrow

City council meeting tomorrow night at 7  p.m. This proposal for an Planned Unit Development at Liberty Village from people living in the area as they want more information on the impact of the development on current residents in the area, so expect to see some discussion on it tomorrow.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Take Back the Night

There was a second Take Back the Night Friday evening, this one at the Town Square Pavilion.  Small turnout again, maybe a dozen people, nowise as big as I have seen the event in past years.  Very nice display set up though, consisting of t-shirts hanging from the pavilion walls, twice as many shirts as people>  It was a bit cool out, so that may have accounted for the poor turnout but I also haven't seen as much advertising for this week's events as I have in past years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Politcal Offices

Noticed there are three campaign headquarters for Democratic candidates in Carbondale:  Bill Enyart, Michael Bigler and a general Democratic office.  Maybe I am missing it but I don't see anything for any candidates running on the Republican ticket.  Granted that the election for state representatives and the House will likely be decided in Belleville and St. Clair County so the campaigns should focus most of the effort there but still, a little love for the rest of southern Illinois

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mattress Firm Kills Halloween

In case you missed it, The Mattress Firm has opened in the old Blockbuster location on East Main. This, of course, means no freestanding location for Spirit Halloween or any of the other seasonal Halloween stores, unless, of course, they opt for a location in University Mall.  The Rex Appliance store space is now occupied by Goodwill and a veterans clinic is still remodeling the old Office Depot for use.

Haven't been to University Mall in the past few weeks.  Has a Halloween store opened up there?  I recall Johnnie Brock's Dungeon rented space there one Halloween several years ago.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sidewalk Repairs

 It appears, based on the amount of spray painted markings appearing on sidewalks around town that we can expect to see significant work on repairing said sidewalks in the near future.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Public Safety Center Sign

While I realize the official term is "Public Safety Center", a sign directing people to the "Police Department" would certainly be more useful to people looking for it.  I know that, if I was looking for the police department, "Public Safety Center" is not the first thing I would look for.

By the way, that sign directly under it still reminds people that it is against the law in Carbondale to congregate on sidewalks during evening hours. While I have not heard any stories of the police telling people to move along after coming out of bars later in the evening, it was a fairly common occurrence for several months after the city council passed the ordinance. enough so that the manager of Jimmy Johns at the time complained that it was affecting his late night business.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

City Council Meeting 2

Just finished watching the city council meeting on local access (along with others, I assume since the council chambers looked pretty bare) and it could have easily wrapped about thirty minutes earlier than what it did.  Watching council members grill members of city staff, I found myself wondering:  "More questions?  Especially about stuff that had been discussed years ago?"

As usual councilman Monty pulled out an item from the consent agenda for further consideration. This time, it was the proposal to hire a firm to analyze the proposed improvements to the city sewer system system with questions, among others,  about  why the proposal hadn't been bid out.  After discussion, it passed unanimously, as expected.

The proposal to begin developing the west side fire station also rand into quite a few questions from council, mainly about whether the building  would be build using sustainable methods and if it would use renewable energy.  Councilman Jack especially got a bit testy about this, as he said that the council had been pushing for "greener" buildings every since he had come to council and nothing had ever come of it. Proposal eventually passed and I think design staff said they would look into the possibility of incorporating renewables into the design.

Council then voted to change a previously created ordinance that gave the mayor the right to transfer city property valued under $1000 without permission of the council.  Majority of the council felt that all transfers of city property, even relatively small amounts of $1000, should still be approved by the council as a whole.

During citizen comments, the sole speaker lodges a complaint against the new Ross store at University Mall, complaining that it only had an exterior entrance and now interior entrance into the mall, wondering if that violated any city ordinances about fire exits.  City Manager Baity informed her that the plans had been approved by the city prior to Ross' moving into the mall and the location of the entrance did not violate any city ordinances or fire codes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

City council meeting

City council meeting at 7 p.m. tonight.  Looks as if it should be a quick meeting unless someone decides to pull items out of the consent agenda for individual consideration.The rezoning request, taking property back to agricultural from planned business, is the only one I see that one of the council members might pull out from the consent agenda for individual consideration.  Since it moves the property back in development rather than forward, though, it should not attract any controversy

Looks as if council might also approve the final development plan for the long awaited west side fire department building as well..

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Icebox Party

A reader of the blog forwarded this video of a party at the Icebox Bar and Grille. The video was posted October 3 and is described as a Reggae Party in September 2012.  No indication if this was the same event going on last weekend, though, that attracted the group that resulted in the shooting nearby

New Business

Brick House Living has relocated from Energy to downtown Carbondale in the old Tantastic location at 608 S. Illinois, just north of Gatsby's.  Looks as if they are running a 20-70% sale celebrating the move and Columbus Day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Genevieve Houghton Passes Away

In case you missed this on the news earlier today, local and long time activist (and Freedom Rider) Genevieve Houghton passed away last night after a long battle with cancer.  She lived across the street from me for the past several years and appears to have recovered somewhat several months ago but I had not seen her in recent weeks.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Downtown Shooting

Shooting at the corner of University and Main about 1 a.m. Sunday morning about a block away from the Icebox Bar and Grille  There was a small group of men in front of the Icebox around 10 p.m. or so Saturday night and it appeared the restaurant has security people in front of the building but that was several hours before the shooting.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Wendy's

It appears the Wendy's on East Walnut will move into a newer building going up just west of the currently location, on the spot where Taco Bell used to stand.  The current building, while still open for business, has a "For  Sale" sign on it, with one of the selling points sales of $1.5+ million annually.

In the late 90s, that stretch of East Walnut had the second largest concentration of fast food restaurants in Carbondale, with Taco Bell, Popeye's , Wendy's and one or two others there.  Now, all, with the exception of Wendy's, have either closed or migrated further east to the Main/Giant City Road area.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More on Stadium Grille

Spoke with Kevin Baity again this afternoon.  The city was not involved in the purchase or foreclosure of the Stadium Grille building, had no input on the asking or selling price of the building, and has no idea what the selling price is.  The city and the Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission do have a combined lien on the contents of the building as the loan provided in part by the city was applied to the Grille's contents.  The amount the two organizations will settle the loan for with the new buyer  is currently under discussion and will likely be announced next Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Price for Stadium Grille

According to a discussion with city manager Kevin Baity yesterday, the city's asking price for the Stadium Grille building was $1.5 million, though another email I received says $1.6 million.  I have no idea what the actual sale price of the building was, just that it was somewhat less then the asking price. A commenter on yesterday's post puts it at around $900,000, which, if correct, means the city took a substantial loss to unload the building.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bandana TIF

Not sure how I feel about this.  Specifically this part:

Kevin Baity, city manager, said the city staff will talk with Park Ridge Midwest Realty, a contractor, about using and improving the Stadium Grille property for use by Bandana’s Bar-B-Q restaurant. If the council approves the contract, Park Ridge Midwest Realty would purchase the property from First Southern Bank for $330,662 and make upgrades to the building. The city would then reimburse the contractor annually until either the $330,662 is paid off or the Tax Increment Financing District No. 1 expires.

Updated to clarify how the TIF district works (i.e. the city is not reimbursing the purchaser for the purchase of the property. The original DE story is awkwardly worded):

If I understand how the TIF process works, the tax base at the time of purchase remains the same and is used for calculation fo taxes due to other taxing bodies for the duration of the TIF district. However, improvements in the property would increase the calculated property tax.  The difference between the base property tax and the increased property tax goes into the Special Tax Increment Allocation Fund, which is not available to other taxing bodies and may only be used for investment in the area covered by the TIF.  In many cases, this includes reimbursing, over time, the investor in the property for the improvements made, but not the cost of the original purchase of the property.

The purpose of the TIF is to:

 be used for costs associated with the development or redevelopment of property within the TIF, allowing blighted, declining and underperforming areas to again become viable, and allowing these areas to compete with vacant land at the edge of urban areas. 

which the Stadium Grille certainly qualifies as (not blighted or declining, but certainly underperforming).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bye Bye Boxty?

After opening with a lot of ballyhoo last fall, it appears Kelly's Irish Boxty House gave up the ghost over the summer. There's a sign in the window saying it would re-open June 11 after break, and this notice was posted by the Jackson County Health Department on Sept. 4th, telling the owner not to reopen without contacting the Health Department regarding food.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cheng Named to Penn StateTask Force

Which I am certain it is quite an honor for her to get named to this panel, for both her and the university, I have to wonder about the demands upon her time.  The panel will meet "several times" which will necessitate travel away from the University and by default, a lessening of her focus upon the university's problems.  As far as I know, the university still hasn't figured out its rebranding yet and the focus should remain on that until it is.

However, she is a member of the NCAA Board, so I imagine it is difficult to turn down the position when asked to serve.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin'

Looks as if the police had to break up a fight between at least three women early last Saturday morning on West Mill, right across from campus.  It also looks as if none of the women arrested were actually residents of the area where the fight took place, though the gentleman arrested for damage to property likely was.  My guess, alcohol was involved.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Parking Fines Increase

As the Southern reports, parking fines will increase from $3 to $7 if paid within 2 days, $10 if paid within 3-12 days and $12 after that.  The fines have stayed the same since 1999 while costs to maintain the parking lots have increased.  All of the funds for maintaining the lots come from metered charges and parking fines. All upkeep expenses comes from the parking fund, none from the general fund.  It is easy enough to avoid a parking fine, don't overstay your time.  It is harder to avoid the meters themselves.

I have heard people argue that we should get rid of the parking meters, as this would help downtown businesses by allowing customers to shop longer without worrying about a fine.  Good enough, but then, where does the money come from to maintain the parking lots?  The city's general fund is stressed enough as it is, funneling money from it to the parking fund means other expenses and projects would have to get cut or reduced. 

It would be possible to eliminate the meters and maintain the parking lots, but only if the sales taxes generated from the area increase by an amount sufficient to cover the amount diverted from the general to the parking fund. So far, I know of no research indicating that would happen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Credit Card Theft

Three of Carbondale's finest citizens stole property from someone earlier this month and on Sept. 2, used a stolen credit card to purchase items from several local retailers.  The C'dale Police have a photo posted here and request you contact them if you recognize them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brand Image of SIUC

The DE has a pretty good article on the party image, or lack thereof, at SIUC, and how the change in image at the school never got replaced by another image.  Even the current rebranding pushed by Chancellor Cheng doesn't appear to develop a strong brand for the university.  SIUC is not a consistently top-performing sports school but most of the new banners around campus show students participating in sports.

Why not focus on the university's top ranked debate team?  What about its world class auto tech and aviation technology programs?  Or its mass communication school?   Granted, sports are an easy thing to look at and dramatize, but its the university's programs that will bring students, not its sports teams.

Monday, September 10, 2012

City Council Meets

City Council meets tomorrow at 7 p.m.  Among the items on the agenda are a vote on the mayor's proposal to award $90,000 over the next three from the hotel/motel tax to the Carbondale Park District to help fund the proposed aquatics park.  The Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau voted last week to support the re-allocation of the funding.

Also of importance on the agenda, another look at raising parking fines, which have stayed at the same level since 1999 and are lower than comparable municipalities.   Some revision to senior parking permits is proposed as staff has seen senior permits on cars parked long term in the already congested Amtrak parking lot, as well as appearing on multiple cars.

There have been some complaints raised about raising the parking fines, that doing so would hurt those who can least afford it. If you cannot afford the parking fine, there is an easy way to avoid it.  Just don't break the parking regulation and, presto, no ticket.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cheng Address

In case you missed Chancellor Cheng's State of the University address, here it is, courtesy of a reader of the blog.  Given the state of the university, there's not much in the way of specifics in it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

SIUC Enrollment Down Again

As has been all over the local news, SIUC's fall enrollment is down again, this time by 970 student, roughly a 5% drop from last fall.  This is a pretty sizable hit, too big to get classified as just a variation from the mean.   Administrators blamed outside factors including:

amount of financial aid available to students, smaller graduating high school classes and drops in enrollment at local community colleges, from which a number of students transfer to SIU.

in other words, everything except the actions of the university.

Planning Commission Meeting Cancelled

In case you were planning to attend the Planning Commission meeting tonight, it's been cancelled.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Game of Carbondale

A copy of The Game of Carbondale, circa 1980 on display in the Civic Center.  From looking at the game, it looks like a fund-raising effort by the Carbondale JayCees.  Play is similar to Monopoly with spaces on the board sold to local businesses, who were then given copies to sell to try to recoup the money they spent on the space. On the board, but no longer in business:  Booby's, Perfectly Clear Printing, Piggy's Gourmet, Jake's Tire, Burt's Sandwich Shop, Longbranch Clothing.  On the board and still in business: State  Farm Insurance, Arnold's Market, Taco Bell, B&A Travel Agency, Pinch Penny Pub, Old Town Liquors, Diederich Insurance, J. C. Penny's. Still in business under another name:  The Waterbed Shoppe (now known as Furniture King).  Some other business on there as well, but don't have the names in my notes.

I remember seeing a copy of this in the window of the Book Depot (gone for some 15 years, used to be located behind Phoenix Cycles) in the early 90s. Stop by and see how many of the places on the board you remember.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Stadium Grille Sold

The long closed (well, two years and two months) Stadium Grille property has just sold, according to city manager Kevin Baity. Buyer is the Bandanas BBQ chain.  The chain typically repurposes already existing buildings, only adding its signature sheet metal awnings to the exterior.  No idea how much the building sold for, though asking price originally was $1.6 million.  Bandanas did pay cash for the building and equipment, though apparently not enough to repay the loan to the city the loan the original owners got from the city.

Bandana's tentatively plans to have the restaurant up and running by this Thanksgiving (2012).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SISA Closed

A blog reader pointed out that the Carbondale SISA location on West Main has closed or moved as there is a large "For Lease" sign on the building.  The website indicates that the Marion showroom and West Frankfort distribution center remain open.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Splash Park Projections

Thanks to a reader of the blog, here are the Carbondale Park District's projected revenues and expenses for the proposed Splash Park.  No indication as to the source of the projected revenues.

500 West Walnut

 Photo courtesy the Arbor District

From second hand information, Home Rentals' plans for its recently acquired property at 500 West Walnut is to maintain it as a single family residence/rental.  The company has looked at the growth of the medical industry in the area and believes, with suitable renovations, it would make an ideal rental for medical professionals moving to the area.  The plan, according to what I understand, it to rent it for a year to new doctors working at one of the hospitals or clinics in the area, while they find or build permanent residences in the area.

Home Rentals has listed the property on its website as available for rent as a residential property at $2950  per month and does specify it is in a area zoned R-1.  However, it also lists the property as having 6-7 bedrooms, making it quite a bit larger that most families would need.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Police Pension Meeting

Given all the concern about pensions in the state today, wanted to call attention to the Police Pension Board meeting at 1:30 today, Aug 28th at City Hall:

City of Carbondale Police Pension Board of Trustees
Meeting Agenda
August 28, 2012, 01:30 P.M.
City Hall Finance Department Conference Room
1.     Call to Order
2.     Roll Call
3.     Acknowledgement of Guests
4.     Treasurers Report
5.     Minutes from previous meeting
6.     Unfinished Business:
7.     New Business: Pay Bills, Discuss Pending litigation, Training issues, Medical re-evaluations of disability pensioners under 50, investments, and any and all items brought to the Board’s attention that require immediate action.
8.     Set next meeting date
9.     Adjournment

Students Are Back And Ready To Party

As the DE reported yesterday, and the Arbor District passed along, a party at the corner of Walnut and James Street attracted an estimated 700 and  ended with the police called in about 2 a.m Sunday morning., using tear gas to break up a fight between two women before others got involved.

Update:  The police department has more here.  Apparently, there have been complaints by those involved about police bodyslamming attendees against cars  while breaking up the party, with one woman arrested for aggravated battery to a police officer.   If you are attending a party this size, and it gets raucous enough that the police need to use tear gas to get things under control, and you don't want to get body slammed against a vehicle, getting out of the area is probably a good idea.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Possible Zoning Issues

According to a mailing sent out by the Arbor District, the huge 2-story house on the northwest corner of Walnut and Poplar (cattycorner to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church), has sold to Home Rentals and there is already a "For Rent" sign on the lawn ( I happened to notice that just yesterday and was rather surprised, since I had never seen the house for rent before.  As you can see from the city's zoning map, the house is in an area zoned R-1, low density residential, meaning it should be occupied by a single household.  Not sure if it falls within the West Walnut Street Historic District, but if not, it is pretty close.  Of course, that hasn't stopped some other buildings within the district from use as multi person rentals as well.

Since the majority of Home Rentals's customers are students and most of the houses on West Walnut east of the property are already multi household rentals, as are several of the houses in the same block on West Main, behind the property, it will be interesting to see if the city enforces the zoning code there, or if the property succumbs to "zoning creep".

Update:  I have been informed by a blog reader that 500 W Walnut does fall inside the West Walnut Street Historic District.

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Buisness?

See some remodeling going on at the former Esther's Clothing.  Walls are getting repainted and the inside getting cleaned out so maybe a new tenant.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The police are asking for help in identifying the two gentlemen shown in the photo here. The are wanted for shoplifting merchandise from a store at 1700 West Main

Club Traz Name Change

No indication as to why, but Club Traz has posted on its Facebook page that the club's name will/has changed to Two 13 (not coincidentally, the street address of the club).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City Council Meeting

The city council meets tonight at 7 p.m.  Not a lot on the agenda but I expect what is on there to produce a lot of discussion.  Up after the warrants is the contract for funding between the city and the reconstituted Convention and Tourism Bureau (Notice:  I sit on the board).  The board is requesting $75,000 from the city in order to have funds to hire both an interim and a permanent executive director for the CCTB as well as pay outstanding bills.  Once the CCTB has this amount on hand, it can then request matching funds from the state.  The major sticking point in the contract is likely the city's stipulation that the CCTB have a fully functioning website up and running within 90 days.  While the CCTB does have a website, and its functionality was one of the complaints laid against the previous CCTB, getting it to the level stipulated by the city in the contract within 90 days would be pretty difficult.

Next on the agenda is an ordinance allowing video poker terminals, and similar games that pay out free games or credits redeemable for cash, in establishments that have a liquor license.  I think we will see a lot of discussion on this but that it will pass.

Water and sewer fee updates are again on the agenda as well as approving a feasibility study expanding the TIF district to include more of downtown.  I expect that one to pass with minimal discussion.

Monday, August 20, 2012

K&M Printing Damaged

Notice in the window of the old K&M Printing building at 219 West Main that the building has suffered structural damage and only those authorized are allowed inside.  The notice also makes reference to "salvage" and the remodeling permit is still displayed as well, so not certain what is going on there.  'twould be very hard to do anything structurally to the exterior of the building as the Icebox Bar and Grill is only a alley's width away and the tattoo shop is in an adjoining building.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More on President Posahrd's Presentation

The presentation was pretty much a litany of reasons why the university has not grown since it peaked in the early 1990s.  Among the reasons given:

almost all Illinois state universities (excepting UI) saw declines in attendance over the past few years.

the counties in southern Illinois around SIUC have all seen population declines, while those around SIUE have seen population increases.

the counties in southern Illinois around SIUC have all seen declines in high school graduates and few of those graduates choose to come to SIUC ( I remember parents of Carbondale high school students earlier this decade telling me that, while most of the college files in the guidance councilor's office were bursting with paperwork, SIUC's has a single page in it.  When I asked President Poshard about this after his speech, he said the university had done a poor job of reaching out to local high schools but were working on improving).

increased recruiting by schools from the states surrounding southern Illinois.

continued declines in state funding since 2002.

no reimbursement for veteran's support functions for the past two years.

lack of spending by the university on promotion of itself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

President Poshard on SIUC

Had the opportunity to attend Glenn Poshard's presentation to the Chamber of Commerce on the status of SIUC.  It's not good.  I will post details later but the general gist is that the university has taken hits from all sides in terms of customers, competition, and funding.  One thing I found particularly interesting was Poshard's last slide which looked at what the city could do to increase attendance. His two points were safety and beautification.  He believes that high schools and universities in other areas that the school could recruit from still view SIUC as a party school and parents may view the city as unsafe.  Neighborhood Scout certainly thinks so.

Apparently Poshard's beautification rap on the city comes from his perception of Hwy 13 east of the city as littered and trashy, not presenting a good image for parents and their children entering the city from that direction, which most do.    That's the first I time I have heard anyone comment on excessive litter on the east side of town.  From his speech, I gather Poshard wants civic minded citizens to spend time on Hwy 13 east cleaning up the roadside.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Money for Pool

Mayor Fritzler sent out the following press release expanding on his proposal to give $100,000 in city funding to fund the proposed CPD Aquatics Center:

Carbondale Mayor Joel Fritzler Proposes $100,000 contribution to Aquatic Center

During last night’s meeting of the Carbondale City Council, Mayor Joel Fritzler proposed that the City of Carbondale contribute a total of $100,000 towards the matching grant the Carbondale Park District received for their Outdoor Aquatic Center project.  Mayor Fritzler said that he was inspired by the success of the Park District’s recent fundraiser and the encouraging show of support by the community for the aquatic center.

The City Council had previously reallocated $10,000 to the project from funds for promoting tourism.  The additional $90,000 would also come from these funds dedicated to promote and market the City of Carbondale.  Mayor Fritzler would like for the new board of the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau to decide whether the funds are contributed over the next two or three years.  The Mayor said, “We have saved some money over the last few months while discussing the future of tourism in Carbondale so, we could make a $50,000 contribution this year and $25,000 during the next two years.”

“This is a win-win project for Carbondale and the Southern Illinois region.  Residents have been wanting and asking for an outdoor pool for generations so, I know that they will step up to the plate (or diving board) and write a check.” For more information about the project, call the Carbondale Park District at 529-4147.

Given that the status of the Convention and Tourism Bureau is currently in flux, with a new board meeting to reconstitute the organization  and that the city council pulled funding from District 95's summer reading program last year, saying the money could be spent better on more immediate needs, like the new fire station (still not started), it is hard to justify directing city funds towards this project.  As the mayor himself said last year:

(Mayor Fritzler) said with the current economy issues, the council cannot afford to fund every program. He said there’s a long list of community projects that need to be completed such as new streets and that should be the priority.