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.