Saturday, December 28, 2013

Most Dangerous Place to Live

Once again, Carbondale makes the list of top 100 most dangerous places (per capita) to live in America.  Lucky us. 

Getting us off this list is the sort of thing the city should be spending money on. While bike paths and splash parks are nice, they aren't going to draw new students to SIUC, which is the economic engine of Carbondale, as long as Mom and Dad see they are sending their precious child to a place where they could get robbed, burglared, or otherwise assaulted. The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Illinois is 1 in 241, in Carbondale it is one in 91. Geez, Carbondale is only safer than 3% of the cities larger than 25,000 in the country.    People talk about the high crime rate in Chicago but, per capita, it's safer than Carbondale is.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wendy's Location

It appears that the shuttered Wendy's, located just east of the recently re-located restaurant, may have sold.  The "For Sale" signs have been down from the building for over a month.  Here's hoping that something goes in there that doesn't require a special uses permit and the approval of city council.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Lights

I have been walking (and driving to some extent) around town and rather disappointed by the dearth of Christmas lights up.   When I was a kid, the norm was to see every house on the block lit with lights, even with one string thrown out into the shrubbery near the porch as an afterthought. Today, the norm is more one string of lights on a house per block, and it is not uncommon to see 2-3 blocks with no lights on a house.

Had a discussion about the reasons for this with a friend a few days ago.  She holds the opinion that the cost of electric has caused fewer people to want to put up lights.  Especially in the current economy, people  watch their pennies and putting up electric lights just for the purpose of decoration  is not a good use of limited funds.

Me, I disagree.  I think it is more a factor of time.  Putting up lights, even just a string of them, takes time and planning.  Given the limited amount of time most of us spend at home (I have seen studies indicating that the typical American spends less than 20% of their waking hours at home), we prioritize the things we do while there and putting up Christmas lights is just not high on the list of priorities.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday Night Restaurant Closures

Went out for a walk around downtown last night about 8:30 or so and was surprised to see the number of restaurants that had already closed for the evening, even though their signs listing their hours indicated they should still be open.    Granted, yes, it is Christmas week and Christmas break at the univeristy but none of them had signs up in their windows indicating they planned to close early or that they would observe holiday hours.

If you want to close early for the holiday fine, go ahead, do so.  But put a note up in your window so that customers who come by at least know why the lights are out.

Incidentally, Thai Taste has a sign posted indicating they will close from today until January 2

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Parking Meters

Noticed that the city has not covered the downtown parking meters with "Merry Christmas" bas this year, offering downtown free parking during the weekdays to shoppers.

In past years, the city has covered the meters with the bags starting just after finals at SIUC and left them covered until shortly before spring classes started..  I don't know how much this helped to encourage customers to come shop in the downtown area, but it certainly didn't hurt.

Does make me wonder if, due to the fact that other city revenues are down, necessitating an increase in property taxes to cover pension liabilities,  the city decided it could not afford to forego the extra revenue generated by those people who park in the downtown area.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DiMaggio's Staying Closed

As I have heard wondered since a car struck the building last October, followed by no re-opening of DiMaggio's (awkward wording there), the restaurant announced on its Facebook page today that it would not reopen the Carbondale location. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Live blogging City Council And LCC Meeting

8:43 Council business all concluded, just discussing future snow removal and what can be done, especially since the snow removal routes are designated by ordinance, so calling it a night.

8:33 Fronabarger says that Carbondale has become more of a retirement community and more focus needs to be paid to those areas during snow emergencies.  Baity responds the city will be looking at updating snow removal recourse.   Monty now concerned about the lax snow removal from sidewalks by both homeowners and businesses.

8:28 Lance jack now make not very helpful comments about the earlier increase in the property tax levy, justifying his vote in favor of raising the tax. Adams now pointing out that Carbondale has a LOT of taxing bodies which get a share of the property tax and which the council has little to no control over.

8:27 After much discussion, the cable franchise agreement is approved unanimously.

8:12 discussing extending Carbondale's cable franchise agreement with Mediacom. It appears Mediacom is seeking a state agreement with might overrule the state agreement.

8:05 preparing to vote on extending Downtown Special Service levy for 2013 to provide funding for Carbondale Main Street.

7:55 Discussion on ordinance abating 2013 tax levies for General Obligation bonds. Approved

unanimously after an explanation by Don Monty, of course, regarding what was going on.

8:15 Adams now asking if M edit com office will remain in Carbondale and if the city will still retain the public access channels, which I have not been able to find in recent weeks. According to Baity, the answer to both is yes.

8:12 ordinance now up to extend the cable franchise agreement with Mediacom.

8:05 Ordinance extending the downtown SSA that funds Carbondale Main Street up now. Passes unanimously with little discussion and none from the audience.

7:50 Don Monty pointing out the city is levying a tax next year to pay this year's bills while Lee Fronabarger says we have to consider that the university has lost 500 jobs in the pass year. Tax levy passes 5 to 2 with Adams and Fritzler voting no.

7:37 Council now discussing approving the 2013 property tax levy.  Jane Adams and Lance Jack now discussing funding sources for pensions, with Jack saying the city doesn't have much in the way of other sources for funding while Adams the city should continue to seek out inefficiencies in city systems. Jack wants to make sure people realize there is not $90,000 in inefficiencies in city government.

7:33 Monty just wanted to point out that this is the first hybrid vehicle purchased by the city and that he believes it is a good purchase. Item then passes unanimously.

7:25 moving into consent agenda. Don Monty, of course, wants an item pulled from the agenda, specifically #6. Rest of consent agenda approved unanimously.

7:20  Representative from Concerned Citizens of Carbondale with questions about hearings regarding Bright Fields solar array project. Mayor says they have not had any communications from Bright Fields. Kevin Baity says he will have a conference call with BrightFields in the near future.

7:00  Liquor Control Commission met and quickly approved Pita Alley's request for. a Class A1 liquor license.

7:10 Council comments regarding hours for winter farmer's market.
7:15 Marvin Kleinau requesting that the city make more than one pass through his residential area in case of snowfall 

City Council Meeting

Liquor Control Commission meeting at 7 p.m.  followed by the city council meeting.  Pita Alley is requesting  a Class A1 liquor license, allowing it to sell beer and wine.

City council meeting follows.  Looks as if the major thing on the agenda is adopting the 2013 Property tax levy, a good portion of which will pay for public service pensions.  Other items on the agenda include establishing the 2013 tax levy for the downtown Special Service Area and extending the cable franchise agreement for the city.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Best in Southern Illinois

The Southern is soliciting nominations for its 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.  Unfortunately, it looks as if you have to nominate in at least 45 different categories for your nominations to be considered.  If you are interested, you have until the end of the month to nominate, with voting taking place from early to mid January.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


It has been a week since Mother Nature kindly dumped a foot of snow upon Carbondale.  City ordinances say that home owners, rental tenants and business owners have 48 hours to clear their sidewalks or face a fine.  Given the number of still uncleared sidewalks in downtown and the near Northwest side, including some in front of a couple of law offices, the city should be able to put a significant dent in its pension shortfall by ticketing those places with uncleared walkways.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lights Fantastic Viewing

In case you want to see the floats that would have appeared in last weekend's canceled Lights Fantastic Parade, they will be parked in the parking lot north of the Communications Building at SIUC this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Do wonder why not put them in the parking lots downtown?  Maybe in the Old National lot or the downtown lots around the old Train Depot?  One of the features of the Lights Fantastic parade was drawing thousands of people into the downtown area and, before or afterward, they could grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area.  Oh well, maybe this was the only spot they committee could locate on such short notice.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Curbside Tasting

Curbside Bar and Grill will hold a tasting/open house from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight.  No cost and the blues group Well Well Wells will play as well, well, wells.  Took a look around this evening and the place has undergone extensive remodeling with two pool tables added as well as a card room cum lounge in the back.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

State Of The City

Sitting in at the annual State of the City Address.

Speech just ended after about 56 minutes.

Mayor asking people to join any of the sixteen committees that the city has: planning, sustainability, human relations etc.

Inviting attendees to visit new design center in the Old Train Depot.

Getting much more cooperation from IDOT recently, i.e. Bike routes and crosswalk out by university mall.
Mayor indicates that he hears from businesses that city is not business friendly and from residents that the city is too business friendly.

 So far, the mayor has given reasons for keeping the portion of the sales tax devoted to paying off CCHS bonds in place and raising the sales tax some more to:

Coven required payments to city pensions
Repair the town square pavilion
Repair the greenway bike path
Renovate the Varsity Center for the Arts

Expect the west side fire department to open in January. The emergency service department will move out to the city hall basement to the new fire station son after.

Do have to wonder why Director of Public Safety Sean Henry wanted to give his background in his presentation?

City manager Baity is now talking about planned bike paths.

93% of city residents are participating in the electric aggregation program.  Average household savings are $68.

Now talking about new businesses that have moved or relocated in town. Half a dozen new business have opened in University Mall and another two dozen or so throughout town.

Chancellor Chang and Baity are meeting regularly to discuss how to use the school of architecture and Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and other university resources, to help redevelop downtown .  Hopefully Carbondale Main Street involved in theses discussions.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Routes

Here's a link to the snow route map for Carbondale. Red marked streets are cleared first, then green marked ones.  The city will tackle streets unmarked on the map only after those two are in good shape.  I was slightly bothered to see so much effort put into incremental clearings of Main and Illinois when there were so many side streets that shell has ice and snow coverings.

Friday, December 6, 2013

City Hall Closing

Due to the weather, City Hall closes at noon today:

In view of deteriorating weather conditions, Carbondale City Hall will close at 12:00 (noon) today, December 6, 2013. City Hall offices will reopen on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
The Police Department, Fire Department, and Public Works will continue to operate.

Lights Fantastic Parade Cancelled

According to this post on Facebook, tomorrow's Lights Fantastic Parade has been canceled and will not be rescheduled for  to the following reasons:

rescheduling isn't an option due to various factors, including paperwork with IDOT, SIU graduation next week, etc. the city used brining solution on sidewalks and streets before the sleet started, and we have many other steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable 23rd Annual Lights Fantastic Parade!

There may be a float viewing next Saturday though. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kia Dealership

Just noticed that Ward Chrysler Kia has opened a Kia exclusive dealership in the empty dealership complex on San Diego Road east of Carbondale.  Since that spot has sat empty ever since the Honda/Kia dealership there decamped for Marion, it is good to see another business open there, especially since I believe it falls within Carbondale city limits, generating more sales tax for the city.

Updated to correct the previous delaership as noted in the comments.

Update:  According to an email,  the dealership property was annexed by  Carterville after a lawsuit.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

City Council Meeting

City Council meeting tonight at 7 p.m.  Should be a short meeting as the only things on the agenda are a hearing on an annexation agreement and the consent agenda.  Of course, never underestimate the ability of the city council to stretch out what should be a short meeting into a multi-hour one.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Vape Shop

Moving into the old Paradise Island Tanning location in University Plaza is the Vape ShopVaping, for those who are not up on the hep jive, is inhaling vapor from electronic cigarettes, so three guesses as to what this place will specialize in.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Downtown Fight

Though there is no mention of it on the C'dale Police website, apparently there was quite an altercation in the Civic Center parking lot last Friday, November 22.  From what I have heard, a crowd of about sixty gathered in the lot late that night, and, as is typical with that size of a crowd, a fight broke out. First officer there called for assistance and three more cars showed up, at which point all of the participants scattered.

No injuries, at least none requiring hospitalization, and no arrests.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

D's Quick Stop

Happened to be in the area north of the square and noticed how empty the east side of this block of North Washington remains, over two years after D's Quick Stop burnt.  For those not familiar with the area, D's sat in the empty space nearest to the camera, while the Tuscan Lodge occupied the green area further down the street.  The building in the center used to house Urban Trendz clothing, but I do not know if the business remains active. 

At the time of the fire, owner Margaret Nesbitt said she planned to reopen the business, but no signs of that happening, at least not at the North Washington location.  No indication of any development at the old Tuscan Lodge site, either.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brush Plaque and Preservation Commission

Received the following email in response to my comments about the plaque commemorating Daniel Brush's speech in Carbondale (reprinted with permission).

The Brush plaque was paid for by private donations from a group of dedicated local Civil War historians who feel that Brush’s speech turned the support in Carbondale (and the region) to the North.  Up to that time it wasn’t very definite which way this part of the state would go.  Apparently, to local historians, this was a significant event in the Civil War.

The Commission has begun a line item account with the city so we can receive donations for other plaques .  Currently we’re working on one to commemorate the beginning of Carbondale College which eventually morphed into SIU.  Again, a local historian led the charge on that one.  Donations are being solicited to place that marker, which hopefully will happen in May. The site for that one is just behind the new Safety Center over where Lincoln Junior High stood. We read your blog with excitement, because we’d love to have other persons in the city come to us with their ideas.  One of the  Preservation Commission’s purposes is education and we know there are some very nice local sites that people should be aware of.  If you have ideas, let us know!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Saluki Way Tax

A major reason for the proposed increase in the property tax levy is the failure of sales taxes to meet projected collections (darn recession).

As a reader of the blog pointed out, at Tuesday night's council meeting Mayor Fritzler noted that, when passed, the Saluki Way Tax increase of .25% generated $1.1 to $1.2 million per year.  Approximately 2 years ago, revenues from the tax started falling short, causing the city to stop abating its share of property taxes, as happened in prior years.  Currently, the city projects collections of about $800,000 this year from the Saluki Way portion of the sales tax.

Property Tax Clarification

As was pointed out to me in an email, last Tuesday's vote on raising the property tax was not an actual vote to increase the tax but was rather a vote to move forward with the proposed increase in the tax levy.  By law, twenty days must elapse between the public hearing and the actual vote on increase the tax.  City staff will write the tax ordinance and it will likely come before the council at its next meeting.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Property Tax Increased

Apparently, after I left the meeting last night, city council voted to increase the proposed property tax levy.  Jane Adams and Joel Fritzler voted against the increase, which will go to fund state mandated fire and police department pensions.  Adams wants to see the city make more cuts in its budget rather than raising taxes, but I don't think either she or Fritzler came forward with proposed cuts the city should make.

The increase will amount to about $8 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

City Council Meeting

7:06 sitting in a surprisingly crowded city council meeting. Liquor control commission has approved a recommendation for a liquor license for Flame Eatery and Wine Bar as well as that for Cafe Melange.

7:10 Council looking at liquor violations. Don Monty is astounded by the increase in Violations at Cali's, up to 51 so far this quarter from 3 during the comparable previous period.

7:14 Mayor Frizler wonders what the city can do to put more pressure on Cali's, Pinch Penny and others to bring the violation numbers down.

7:16 Jane Adams muses about the possibility of passing an ordinance mandating bar entrants wear wristbands.

7:19 Jessica Bradshaw wonders if the increased number of reported violations is due to increased activity. Monty is concerned about several sales of liquor to a minor at Cali's.

7:25 report on violations is accepted and the LCC meting adjourns.

7:31 City council meeting reopen switch reminders about Lights Fantastic parade and President Kennedy's assassination, as well as anniversary of first reading of Gettysburg Address and NAACP meeting.

7:37 Proclamation of Adoption Awareness Month in city of Carbondale

7:38 citizen comments open. Request for meeting between Brightfield Solar Energy and Concerned Citizens of Carbondale. Want to have two meetings facilitated by the city in December to address concerns about the installation of a solar array on the old Koppers site.  Discussion now about who is responsible for setting up meetings between EPA and citizens.

7:50. Some more concerns about Brightfields about what will happen with the development.

7:58 citizen taking issue with swearing an oath over the Bible as it is a Satanic ritual  (his words, not mine) a public desecration of the Bible.

8:04 More concerns about Brightfields. EPA is very reluctant to attend a meeting at winch Brightfields or Beezer is attending as the EPA fears it would appear lending support the use of the site. City opposes this view strongly and wants to have EPA in the room.

8:08 request for the city or park district to develop a skate park in the city. A good half the attendees came in support of this proposal.

8:20 truth in taxation hearing starting for proposed 2013 tax levy to fund pensions of fire and police departments as well as the public library levy requirements. By law the city is required to adopt the library's tax levy request. This law appears to date back to 1961

8:26 consent agenda. Let us see if anyone wants anything pulled from it.

8:28 whaddyaknow?  Don Monty wants the ordinance authorizing a budget increase  for a pumper truck pulled and voted upon separately

8:32 all supporters of the skate park and persons concerned with the Brightfields project have exited council chambers.

8:43 For an item that was pulled from the consent agenda, council sure spent a lot of time discussing the purchase of the truck.

 8:50 council now discussing the 2013 proposed tax levy and I have to leave as the excitement builds.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Preservation Commission Meeting

Preservation Commission meets tonight at 7 p.m. but doesn't look as if anything interesting to non-commission members is on the agenda, save perhaps the discussion of plaques.

I would like to know where the funding came from for the plaque commemorating Daniel Brusch's speech that stands on the southwest corner of the square.  Seems like there should be more important events in Carbondale to commemorate with a free standing plaque than that.


Not sure about the damage in the rest of  the area but took a quick drive around town last night and down 127 and 146 this morning and saw no damage from the storms yesterday.  Did hear reports of waterspouts forming over Cedar Lake but nothing about any damage in the area.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yellow Cab Closed

In case you have not noticed, the distinctive yellow taxis of Yellow Cab vanished from Carbondale's streets over a month ago and the office shut down as well.  I just noticed the sign on the long time downtown business had been painted over.  From conversations with a couple of the drivers, it appears that tax problems were at least partially responsible for the business' closure.

It appears long time Yellow Cab employee Diane Tatum has sought to reopen Yellow Cab (scroll down) but the city has denied her application for a cab certificate, needed before she can reopen the business.  Granted, Yellow Cab's taxis did not look particularly appealing but customers used them regularly and the company provided employment for a number of people who are now out of work.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sandwich Signage

Just received a letter from the city informing me that the placement of A-frame signs in the downtown business district is now allowed per revised ordinance 15-4.10.7.G.  Of course, being a governmental ordinance, it has to get very specific with the sign and its location:  no taller than 3 feet or 2 ' wide, not exceeding a total of six square feet per side, and no three or four sided signs.  The sing must come inside at the close of business, sit no further than 15' from the front door, not impede pedestrian traffic and sit at least 3 and a half feet  from any building, post or obstruction. 

Business owners must now get a permit for each A-frame sign, costing $10 per year, and, if located on aright of way, list the city as an additional insured on the business' insurance certificate.

On a related note, I am glad to see that the ordinance regarding flashing signs has been brought up to date to incorporate electronic message boards, though apparently flashing message boards and signs are still illegal.  See 10.7.E at the link above.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

House Fire

Really a shame about this house.  I know the owner and he had just finished remodeling the interior quite extensively, with new bathroom fixtures and new flooring throughout, completing it over the past weekend.  Apparently the tenant was cooking lunch when grease caught fire on the stove and got out of control. 

Due to the house being a complete loss with fire damage throughout, current plans are to pull it down and sell the property as a lot for new construction.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crab Orchard Economic Impact

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge attracts about 1.2 million visitors annually and generates between 22 and 25 million dollars for the region, or roughly $14 in revenue for every $1 invested in the refuge.  Not a bad return on our money.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Apparently it is OK to live next to a contaminated site but not next to a contaminated site that could get  reused to bring jobs into the city.  Incidentally, the city did send out notices about a meeting concerning the Brightfields proposal to  all property owners near the site.  However, I would be willing to bet that a number of the people concerned rent rather than own the house in which they live and the landlord did not communicate the notice to  those living in the houses affected.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Liquor Advisory Board Meeting

Sat in on part of tonight's Liquor Advisory Board meeting.  A couple of interesting things came out of it.

For the first time in recent memory, the old Spinonis' building will not get gutted for the new restaurant, Flame Eatery and Bar, going in there,  As was commented at the meeting, during the presentation for the liquor license,  a committee member commented that one of the problems prior restaurants had at the location was that each new owner completely gutted and renovated the building to make it the way they visualized it, rather than taking the restaurant layout in place and building on top of it.  By going into the project this way, the owner plans to minimizes his investment and avoid the financial difficulties previous restaurants ran into.

Also, the people behind the reopened club Melange are the same couple that have owned Kaya for over a decade on S. Illinois. Though it had no effect on the LAB approval, the committee did ask them to consider pulling down the walls the previous owner had put up around the outdoor patio.

Finally, from comments by committee members, it appears that  the expansion of beer and wine sales to grocery stores has had an effect on sales though liquor stores in the community, with one member estimating sales in the stores have declined 20-30%.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

City Council Meeting Nov. 5

Missed last night's city council meeting so am listening to the copy archived on the city's website.

Mayor Fritzler just mentioned reporting streetlights that were out of service which prompted a  citizen to come up and complain about the 4 streetlights surrounding his house, shining in the windows all night.  He requested the city or the electric supplier put shields on the lights to prevent the streaming into his windows.  City Manager Baity said the city would look into it, which appeared to satisfy the complaintant.

The hearing regarding granting an easement to Amerin Illinois Company across Cedar Lake for electrical transmission lines had no discussion

Presentation and discussion of the audited comprehensive annual report, which was accepted with just a few questions from council.

Consent agenda passed with items 5.6 and 5.7 pulled for individual votes, 'cause you know we couldn't just have a clean consent agenda passed.  Item 5.6 is the Amerin easement noted above, since apparently no easement was ever granted when the lines were put into place in the 1970s.  Councilman Jack pulled to to inquire about the possibility of getting fees from Amerin for the easement, which, as Councilman Monty notes, would cost an "exorbitant" amount of money for the company to reroute, as apparently Amerin will only pay $10 for the easement.  After discussion, council grant the easement as proposed.

5.7 deals with extending the cable franchise agreement with Mediacom.  Medicom requested extending the contract but apparently the commission that deals with this has had several members resign and been unable to find additional members to form a quorum. The extension would only be for 60 days.  Passed after extensive discussion unanimously.

Council comments started with Don Monty commenting on his observations of a very quiet Halloween season.  Lee Fronabarger inquired about the status of a crosswalk across Hwy 13 and Jane Adams asked about the Bright Fields solar panel project, which has encountered some concern from residents in the northeast part of Carbondale near the project.  Council directed city staff to hold meetings in the neighborhoods to address concerns.  However, city manger Baity indicated that residents were unwilling to hold meetings in the neighborhoods, forcing the city to move to other locations, such as city hall or on one of the churches in the northeast area.  Baity will continue to pursue conversation with the groups concerned.

At  that, council moved into closed session at 8:21 after 1 hour and 21 minutes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flame Eatery and Wine Bar

Looks as if a new restaurant plans to move into the old Spinoni's location.  There's a request for an A2 liquor license for Flame Eatery and Wine Bar for a location at 501 East Walnut on the agenda for this Thursday's Liquor Advisory Board meeting.  Also I see Cafe Melange will apply for a class A1 liquor license for its new incarnation.

Halloween a Success?

At least according to Deputy Police Chief Jeff Grubbs and councilwoman Jane Adams, it was, while Mayor Fritzler says the weekend "went well".

Monday, November 4, 2013

Car Wash Closed

Have noticed that the car wash on Giant City Road between Dollar General and Casey's has been closed and roped off for a week or more now.  No idea why though.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Night and Weekend

From what I have heard, city government and the police are quite worried about what will happen this weekend, given that all the bars remain open and it is the closest weekend to Halloween.  My bet, nothing.  At least nothing tied to Halloween.  It's rather light when your team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl.  You celebrate leading up to or during the event. A couple of days later, all of the excitement has waned.

I took a drive through downtown last night about 10 p.m. and the streets were pretty quiet, with only 2 people out in costume. Stix did have a couple of guys manning the door but no line waiting to get inside.  Parking lot at the Old Depot building was packed so expect the Cellar had quite a crowd.

I did hear from one of the nightspot owners that C'dale police had been around earlier in the week asking bars what they had planned for the weekend after Halloween and the general reply was "nothing", or at least nothing Halloween related.  It does appear,  from the crime map and word of mouth , that police were quite busy hauling liquor law violators away from the Pinch Penny complex last weekend.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick or Treating Postponed

In case you missed the announcement, the weather caused the city to postpone Trick or Treating until Friday night.  No idea how this will affect places like University Mall:

Due to the threat of potentially severe weather on Thursday, October 31, official Trick-or-Treat hours have been postponed until Friday, November 1, between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Notes From Pickle's Alley

Despite the pictures from 20 years ago, Halloween should be safe.

Even though the bars will remain open

And burglars are still active.

But SIUC received a $1.3 million donation.

Haunted Carbondale Oakland Cemetary

Oakland Cemetery, located at the northern end of Oakland Avenue, has a long history of "ghost lights" usually floating along the northern border of the cemetery, above a long abandoned stretch of railroad tracks. Ghosts from a train wreck near the cemetery that took place in 1888 may account for the lights.

However, people have reported seeing similar balls of light floating along the train tracks south of Makanda and east of Boskeydell, with no similar wrecks reported in the area. Similar ghost lights are associated with railway tracks and crossings throughout the country, usually with the story of a decapitated or otherwise killed person associated with them.

T. J.'s Moving

It looks as if TJ's Fine Jewelry will move out of its location in the strip mall near Best Buy on East Main. The sign in front of the closed El Bajio restaurant, also on East Main but closer to downtown, announced that TJ's will open there soon.

The move certainly gives the company more room in terms of how to lay out the business, however it is on a one way street, meaning those heading east will have to make more effort to get to the new location.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Haunted Carbondale--Sunset Haven

Sunset Haven, or Building 207 as it was known officially by SIUC, was the county poor farm during the early part of the last century.  Located on university property, south of Chautauqua Road, Sunset Haven was off limits, though as this video indicates, people still managed to find their way into the building.  Residents who died were buried in unmarked graves in a paupers field near the building and are thought to account for the voices, chains rattling (mentally disturbed residents were sometimes chained to the wall), cold sports and items mysteriously moving, among other phenomena.

It appears that the university razed Sunset Haven quietly, so to speak, last week, likely to prevent other  investigators from exploring the building and injuring themselves.


According to the Carbondale Police's crime map, this past weekend was pretty quiet, with arrests for drugs and alcohol concentrated in the Poplar-University Avenue area and only a few thefts and property crimes reported throughout the city. Though quite a few people hit the streets, the numbers nowise reached those of 2 decades ago.  With Halloween falling on a Thursday this year and classes the following day, it is doubtful the city will see much activity the rest of the week.  The next three years, as Halloween moves to the weekend, will give a much more accurate picture of the effect the ordinance allowing downtown bars to reopen during the holiday will have.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Haunted Carbondale Hundley House

Probably the most famous "haunted house" in Carbondale, the Hundley House still sits on West Main as it has for over a century.  Hundley House is the site of the most famous unsolved murder in Carbonale history,  that of  Luella and J. C. Hundley and is not currently open to the public, save by special arrangement with the owner.

Halloween Weekend

Took a look around downtown last night and this morning after Saturday night's Halloween festivities.  Amazing number of people waiting to get into the Premier Lounge about 10 p.m., nearly half a block long.  Lots of people walking in costume on S. Illinois.  However, much like Friday night, they were mainly between the Mill Street Underpass and Pagliai's Pizza.  Did not see any patrol cars in the area, but did see a couple of officers walking along the sidewalk near W. College.  However, no idea if they were actual officers or costumed partygoers..

It looked as if most of the activity, though, was over on Carbondale's de facto Greek Row, along S. University from West Cherry to Mill street.  After leaving campus some years ago, several fraternities and sororities have located located along the street there and every house last night looked to host a very well attended party.

Saw a few party hosts out cleaning their yards up this morning, but again surprisingly, did not see a lot of trash littering the streets and yadrs.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Unofficial Halloween Night One

Took a walk down S. Illinois about 8 Friday night and then again about 10 p.m.. Though only a few people were out in costume during my earlier jaunt, by 10 p.m. almost everyone I spotted had some form of costume on, with almost all of them between Pagliai's and the Mill Street Underpass.  Not much in the way of police out either, though they had pulled over one car into the Hangar 9's parking lot.  Nor did I see any vans from the local media.

A friend stayed out much later than I did, until about 4 p.m., looking to see if anything would happen but, according to him, everything stayed quiet. The bars closed at 2 p.m. and the streets emptied as everybody headed home. When I drove through downtown about 9 this morning, I was surprised at just how clean the streets had stayed. Either last night's partygoers didn't dump much trash, or the city and local businesses got out really early to clean up.

Of course, the Daily Egyptian's Weekender edition had to lead off with photographs of some of the more dangerous activities from Halloweens past.  Hopefully, no one will attempt to emulate the activities of those students of over a decade ago and the city council won't be tempted to re-instate the ban on Halloween.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Haunted Carbondale--Anthony Hall

A story dating back to the 1960s focuses on the first floor of Anthony Hall on the SIUC campus, which until recently housed most of the administrative offices of the University.

According to the story, a secretary/office worker at the time died of a heart attack while at work in Anthony Hall. Incidentally, admittedly minimal research has not found any evidence of this, but since then, on rare occasions, her figure has been seen, by janitorial staff late in the afternoon or evening, still seated at a desk catching up on long ago paperwork.

I was told by a man who worked in maintenance on campus some years ago that he knew of at least one other worker that had seen her and that several workers had reported a "watched" feeling while in Anthony.

Bob Tyson Memorial Tree Planting

A memorial tree  in honor of the late "Uncle Bob" Tyson will be planted at Evergreen Terrace next Tuesday afternoon.  For those not familiar with Bob Tyson, he was a well known local musician and Sierra Club volunteer who passed away while clearing brush last summer.  As a result, the Shawnee National Forest has announced new policies for volunteers working by themselves in the Forest, including more structured check in rules.

Just today, I received a letter from Randy announcing the Bob Tyson Memorial Tree Planting next Tuesday, October 29th, at 1:30 PM. 
The tree will be planted at the Pine Tree Shelter in Evergreen Park, which is located off of Pleasant HIll Road in Carbondale.

Unofficial Halloween

In case you want to attend any of the Unofficial Halloween events this weekend, here is a list.  It looks as if most of the announced events for this weekend will concentrate in the Pinch Penny Pub complex, allowing the police to focus their attention on that area

Thursday, October 24, 2013

West Sycamore Yet Again

Recieved a call from the city's Public Works department after stopping by to check on the status of West Sycamore last week.  The contractor is supposed to finish up their current project by the end of this week and get back to work on West Sycamore next week.  Projected finish date for street and sidewalk repairs is now by Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fritzler Elected to IML

Received the following press release this afternoon:

Last week, the Illinois Municipal League held its 100th Annual Conference in Chicago. Over 1,500 mayors, council members, and local officials attended and recognized IML’s “Century of Service to Illinois Municipalities.” The IML Conference is the gathering place for education, in-depth working sessions, and learning about new laws and responsibilities for municipalities and municipal officials. It is also where new officers are elected to lead the IML’s 1,124 municipal-membership.
On Saturday, October 19, 2013, the IML membership elected 36 Vice Presidents to take a leadership role within the statewide organization. Mayor Joel Fritzler was elected to serve as one of the Vice Presidents. This is a vital, active Board that carries out the mission of the IML.

The Illinois Municipal League is Illinois’ statewide lobby and education organization whose special interest is the people, so municipalities can have a powerful resource and voice in Springfield. IML’s mission is to keep decision making local.

Mayor Fritzler said, “I am honored to represent Carbondale and Southern Illinois in this statewide organization. Interacting with other elected municipal officials and the Illinois Municipal League will keep me informed of innovation and change taking place in Illinois.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Walnut Street Baptist Church

According to the sign, the Walnut Street Baptist Church building and parking lot are for sale.  Unfortunately, due to its location in downtown at the corner of Walnut and University, there is not much that can be done with the building as it currently stands.  Large churches such as this are notoriously hard to repurpose.  My guess is that eventually the city buys it and pulls it down for additional downtown parking.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hidden Carbondale

If you happen to have a few hours free on the 29th, the Chamber of Commerce has a Hidden Carbondale tour scheduled, promising the opportunity to see things most people will never see and go places most people will never get to go.  Only 20 spaces remaining as of Homecoming weekend.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Giant City Wreck

A large piece of earthmoving equipment slipped of the truck transporting it at the intersection of Giant City and East Main this afternoon.  No one injured but took a few hours to reopen the streets.  A reader of the blog sent along this photo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

West Sycamore Repairs

Got curious about the repairs on West Sycamore so stopped by the Public Works offices at City Hall.  it appears that the contractor hired to perform the repairs on water mains underneath the street asked for permission to delay work on West Sycamore as he was running out of "working days" on another project.

The city granted permission for the delay but has no idea when the contractor will complete the other project and return to work on West Sycamore.  Best guess is before the end of the year.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apartment Oversupply

According to this article from the Southern,  Carbondale is seeing roughly a 5% vacancy rate in apartments in town.  I am rather surprised it is not closer to 90%, given the amount of building that has taken place in town over the last few years and the continual slide in enrollment.

I would hazard a guess that the figures ignore the number of retail houses in the area north of West Main and around South Poplar. From what I have heard, students have chosen to abandon a lot of those older properties which landlords have only minimally maintained, preferring to move to brand new properties like the Reserve at Saluki Pointe and G & R Rentals.  In addition, there are the properties that were/are owned by Campus Habitat, which as far as I know are still closed by order of the city, taking a large number of rooms and apartments out of the rental pool.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Neighborhood Business District Advisory Committee

That's a mouthful, isn't it?  Anyhow, from an email sent out by the city:

The Neighborhood Business District Advisory Committee of the Planning Commission will meet on Wednesday October 16, at 6:00p.m., in room 103 in the Civic Center to discuss possible changes to the Neighborhood Business district.  This Committee was formed after the adoption of the new Zoning Ordinance in April 2013.  Members of this Committee include Tom Grant, Navreet Kang, Janet Lilly, and Larue Love.  In contrast to regular Planning Commission meetings, this will be a roundtable discussion to exchanges ideas and hear input from the public. 

Not sure what this committee will actually accomplish since it has no power.  I guess it will just listen to people and pass their comments along to city council.  What I hope will happen is that the NBDAC will do is say to people, "OK, such and such wants to open in your neighborhood.  What do you think about this?"  This would mean that the committee would have to prove quite proactive in contacting residents about issues facing their neighborhood.  Given recent history, I doubt if many people will respond otherwise, until the issue comes before council and the chamber is filled with people complaining about something that is happening in their neighborhood and why didn't I know about it before kinda like the proposed solar array at the old Koppers plant location.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

West Sycamore

West Sycamore is still torn up for about a five block stretch, along with a couple of blocks of sidewalks.  The city stopped work on this prior to IDOT's resurfacing work on West Main and I have seen no sign of work taking up again on it since then. Although drivable, the street is certainly rough, especially on the south side and the sidewalks under repair are nothing but dirt and gravel.

Seems like an awfully long time to put a street repair project on hiatus.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bike Lane 2

The stretch of road in Carbondale that really needs a bike lane is the 2 block section of Poplar that runs betwix Main and Walnut.  Poplar serves as the major artery of transportation for those living in the near Northwest section of Carbondale to get to SIUC. The residential area north of Main has low enough traffic flow that bicyclists can move along the streets with safety, while Poplar south of Walnut has bike lanes on both sides of the street.

It is only that one short section of the street where both two wheeled and four wheels drivers funnel towards the university that is not relatively safe.  I regularly see bicyclists riding on the sidewalk (illegally) and cars swerving unnervingly close to bicyclists traversing that stretch.

I do not know if regulations regarding the width of roadways would allow part of the street to be marked off as bike lanes.  Widening the street to allow lanes is not an option, as there is very little setback of private property from the street.  Maybe the city could at least paint "sharrows" on the street, as Cape Girardeau has done on some streets.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bike Lane

Noticed that the recent resurfacing of West Main has included a bike lane on the north side of the street.  Given the number of people I see biking along West Main and cars either swerving or slowing down to avoid them, this is a good addition to the street.

Unfortunately, I am not certain how much use the lane will ultimately prove as it peters out half a block west of the intersection of Main and University, forcing bicyclists to merge back into westbound traffic

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tree Sale

In case you are looking for fall plantings:

A one-day sale of trees and other native perennials will be held on Saturday, October 5 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carbondale’s Murdale Shopping Center.  Once again, Green Earth and Keep Carbondale Beautiful are teaming up to make it easier for property owners to plant natives, all from Forrest-Keeling Nursery.  Experts will be on hand to advise shoppers on best practices.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Halloween Ball

Looks as if the weekend of October 26 will be quite busy:

The WDBX Halloween Costume Ball will be October 26th, from 7-11pm, at the Garden Grove Event Center (formerly Sportsblast) in Carbondale. Tickets are $30 each, with large group discounts available. The Well Well Wells and Hobo Knife will perform, and we will also have a costume contest with prizes. Tickets are available at Arnold's Market, the Neighborhood Co-Op, Dayshift, Plaza-Wuxtry Records, Navreet Kang Insurance, and online at All proceeds will benefit WDBX 91.1 FM.

Trick or Treat Hours

Looks as if hours for Trick or Treating (or as I used to call it "extortion by the cut") will take place from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31:

Mayor Joel Fritzler has proclaimed Thursday, October 31, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. as the official "Trick-or-Treat" hours for Carbondale children.
The Mayor is encouraging residents to indicate their willingness to welcome the children by keeping on their porch and exterior lights. He also urges that "Trick-or-Treaters" wear reflective tape or clothing and encourages parents to check all treats for potentially harmful objects.
Mayor Fritzler and the members of the City Council ask for the cooperation of all citizens in making this a happy and safe occasion for our community.

No word yet on when Trick or Treating on main Street, Murdale Shopping Center or at the Mall will take place but I would expect them to take place on Oct. 26th as typically these events take place the Saturday before Halloween  It also appears the group behind "Unofficial Halloween" has set Oct 25 and 26 and the dates for this years events.

It will certainly be intersting to see how the elimination of the requirement that bars on the southern end of Illinois close during Halloween affects turnout.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Both Melange and Club TwoThirteen have reopened in recent weeks, Melange under new management and Club TwoThirteen apparently under the previous management.

It will be interesting to see what each one does differently.  They apparently did not do well enough following their previous marketing strategies to remain viable so doing the same thing again will probably wind up with the same results.  One possible change for Melange would be removing the wall the previous management put up surrounding the patio. While it did block people on the patio from having to see the Strip and the people on it, it also prevented people walking along the Strip from seeing people eating on Melange's patio and enjoying themselves and considering doing it themselves.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Neighborhood Watch Meeting

The Police Department will have a meeting to talk more about the Neighborhood Watch program on Tuesday October 1 at the Civic Center.  If I recall rightly, Carbondale had a Neighborhood Watch program at one time but it has seen little activity over the past several years.

While revitalizing the Neighborhood Watch program is a good idea, I would hope they combine it with some form of foot patrol in the downtown and Poplar Street areas.  From what I heard over the weekend, there were at least three robberies on Poplar Street last Saturday night and there have been several others in months prior. 

According to the column linked above, foot patrols historically have had little impact on crime but that appears to have changed with increased community stratification.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Attitude Designs Reopening

Thought I guess technically it never closed but now, it appears that Attitude Designs will not even close temporarily as previously announced.  From comments:

Ok, so services were not so limited in September. The good news is it  (Attitude Designs) is not closing.
There is a new owner and a familiar one.
Good news for Downtown Carbondale and Southern Illinois

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Three card wreck on West Main, just west of Illinois.  From what I could tell, the grey car on the left stopped in the middle of the road, not sure of the reason. The SUV was following too close behind to stop in time and the third car, damaged the worst, drove up under the rear bumper of the SUV.  Took place shortly before 6 p.m Wednesday evening, still getting cleared away at 6:30

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What a Wal-mart Costs

I don't imagine we will ever get another Wal-mart here but recent research indicates having in the community community decreases economic output by $13 million over 20 years and costs another $14 million in lost wages over the same period

Monday, September 23, 2013

BMX Track

Here is a shot of the "Closed" sign of the Evergreen Park BMX Track sent in by a reader of the blog.  Seems a shame the Park District was unable to find money to keep it open while they have through themselves fully into finding funding for the Carbondale Splash Park

 photo IMG_9130.jpg

Friday, September 20, 2013

Evergreen Park BMX Track

Here are a couple of photos of the now derelict Evergreen Park BMX track, circa 1998

As you can see, it got quite a bit of use back then.  Thanks to a blog reader for calling these to my attention.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Super Buffet

Looks as if Chinese buffets are changing like leaves around here.  Qin Quan has taken the place of Great Wall (and is much improved) and Super Buffet, across the highway, has a sign on the front door:  "We close".

I have heard rumors that the the new owners of Qin Guan also owned Super Buffet.  Maybe they decided competing against themselves was a bad business move.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

West Sycamore Closure

West Sycamore is closed for about half a block just west of the intersection with Oakland.

The main reason I am commenting on this is that Sycamore east of Oakland is still pretty rough from repairs that were started there earlier this month.  Wondering why the city has started tearing up another section of Sycamore when work on the previous section hasn't been completed yet. Seems you would finish up one section before tearing up another one, especially since the two sections are separated by Oakland, which has not seen any repair work yet.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Business Open House

In case you are looking for something businessy to do this afternoon, orderbolt is having an open house between 4 and 6 today in the lobby of the Dunn-Richmond Center:

orderbolt Ribbon Cutting & Business After Hours Today!
4 p.m.- 6 p.m., 9/13/13, 1740 Innovation Drive

orderbolt Co. is celebrating their official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. in the lobby of the Dunn-Richmond Center (the Small Business incubator) immediately followed by a Business After Hours event. Join us for an afternoon of free martinis, an open bar provided by The Blue Martin, and prize giveawaysAlso, see a demonstration of orderbolt's  new application for rental payments.

Each attendee will receive one free general admission ticket to the orderbolt Launch Party on Saturday, October 5, 2013. One lucky guest will even win a Gold VIP Package to the Launch Event!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Street Work

In case you were wondering what has been going on with the street construction on West 13 at night, IDOT is cutting out patches of distressed asphalt/concrete and replacing them.  Getting it done pretty quickly too.

BMX Park

Did you know that Carbondale has a BMX park?  Had a BMX park is probably a more apt description as these photos show since Mother Nature has pretty much reclaimed it. The top picture shows the main part of the track while the bottom one shows the announcer's stand poking up above the surrounding shrubbery.  On past the stand, completely hidden by the brush, are the remaining bleachers from which the audience could watch the racers.

The park is owned by the Carbondale Park district which, from what I understand, decided it was unable to continue maintaining it when the District ran into financial difficulties several years ago and decided that maintaining Hickory Ridge Golf Course was a better uses of the limited funding available and served more people than providing upkeep of the track for the far fewer BMX racers in the area.

The remains of the park are located south of the intersection of Pleasant Hill and McLafferty Roads, behind Evergreen Terrace and just a bit southeast of Williams Field.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

State of the University Speech

Caught Chancellor Rita Cheng's State of the University speech this afternoon (You can listen to it here if you have about an hour and fifteen minutes). Some notable points from the speech:

--Enrollment is down 4.7% and has dropped about 2600 since 2008 (that's the bar graph in the picture above)  After noting that enrollment had dropped consistently over the past decade, it was all positive after that.

-Largest freshman class in 20 years with ACT scores averaging a point higher than last year.

--750 academic scholarships awarded, triple the number three years ago with the number of students in the honors program triple as well.

--Online courses up 36%

--2700 scholarships awarded with 1135 accepted

--Summer school schedules posted earlier than ever with more classes open to community memebers and more remote learners.

--all new students received a tablet computer on entering the university

--Received about $20 million from the state, $15.7 from the Federal Government, $7.4 from industry, $3.17 million from the SIU Foundation and $14 million from other sources.

--25 firms currently in the SIUC Research Park.

--$14 million invested in campus renovation last year

--New Student Services Building expected to open Homecoming weekend, then Woody Hall rennovation begins, expected to be completed in 18 months.

--Morris Library renovations completed by spring semester .

92% of classrooms will have up to date technology.

--400+ video cameras installed on campus

--McLafferty Annex turned into laboratory facility.

--Cummunications Building rennovations to start soon.

--New residence facilities to open by 2016

--Women's resource center coming

--Listed as a top 100 school in US New and World Report (funny how schools that don't make the list say it either doesn't mean anything or is skewed).

--Debate Team one of only 6 teams to win two national titles in one year.

--Only mention of sports teams was the award winning women's volleyball team.

--Recognized Mayor Joel Fritzler and Councilman Don Monty, who, so far as I could tell, were the only city council members in attendance.  Others may have been there but they weren't recognized by the Chancellor during her speech.  Did spot City Manger Kevin Baity and Jeff Doherty, ED of the Jackson County Growth  Alliance in the audience.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Here is the sign advertising the soon to be opening Cafe Melange at the location of the late lamented Melange Coffeehouse.  No idea what connection this one has to the original.

Also, Qin Guan has a very quiet opening in the old Great Wall location.  Happened to drive by this afternoon and noticed pennants draped around the building, lights on and cars in the parking lot.

Friday, September 6, 2013

West Monroe

It appears there is some planned construction at 310 West Monroe Street, according to the email below from the Preservation Commission.  This appears part of the same parcel that Home Rentals applied for a special uses permit to build a 4 apartment building back in 2011. Council eventually turned down the application after a number of complaints from residents in the area.

The Preservation Commission's Certificate of Appropriateness Committee will
meet on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, at 3:00 pm in Conference Room B on
the 2nd floor of City Hall at 200 South Illinois Avenue, to discuss the new
building to be constructed at 310 West Monroe Street.


Melange may be re-opening soon, either under than name or a different one.  A reader of the blog says there is an "Opening Soon" sign posted on the building.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

B and L Photo

Longtime downtown business B and L Photo has moved about a block west from its long time location above the now closed Gatsby's.  It is now located in the strip that houses Quatro's and Jerry's Flowers.

There was some talk of B&L closing down last December. Glad to see that business has picked up enough that they were able to move to a more accessible location as the old one is only accessible via a short flight of steps.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Attitude Designs

Sign on the door says Attitude Designs will offer limited services during the month of September and will close temporarily at the end of the month.

Monday, September 2, 2013

5 Places in Southern Illinois

Since it is Labor Day and the end of Summer (thought it does not feel like it yet), I started thinking about where I would take a visitor to the area if I wanted to show them five iconic spots in the southern Illinois.  Since I am not a big fan of water sports and I don't drink wine, that leaves the lakes and local wineries out.  After a little thought, I came up with these five:

1.  SIUC 
2.  Giant City State Park
3.  Cave in Rock
4.  Bald Knob
5.  Garden of the Gods

Granted this list does weigh heavily towards outdoor activities but southern Illinois does hold over 400 square miles of national forest drawing outdoor enthusiasts from all over the Midwest. You probably have a different set, if so, leave them in the comments.

Friday, August 30, 2013

This Is Carbondale

If you haven't seen the "This Is Carbondale" video touted at the last City Council meeting, it is playing on the wall at the Civic Center.  Or you can just watch it here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Student Housing Oversupply

Oversupply of student housing is a problem not just in Carbondale but builders of student housing nationwide have significantly overbuilt, leaving about 51,000 rooms empty nationwide, vacancy rate of about 6.7%.  In addition, student landlords have cut rents about 5% over the past year to fill empty rooms.

Makes me glad the council decided not to issue the special use permit to allow ground floor apartments in the downtown area. By all means let them build if they want but given the over-optimist view of the student housing market most developers have, it seems short sighted to elimiate sales tax generating retail space in favor of non-tax generating residential space, especially when there is no overwhelming need for more student housing. 

Granted, analysts believe the student market will grow to absorb the oversupply of student housing over time and much of the new housing is the "modernization of product that was neglected for decades", but Carbondale has seen a lot of new units added on in the past few years and we still haven't seen enough growth in the student market to absorb them yet.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Business Friendly Council Members

Struck me as I watched the voting at last night's city council meeting that of the current council membership, only Lance Jack currently runs a business.  All of the other council members are either retired (as far as I know) or work for the university., though Jessica Bradshaw did run Rosetta Bookstore for a couple of years before closing it.  This likely influences the way they vote as, if I recall correctly, they were the only two to vote to support all of the changes before council last night including the failed rezoning attempt for Giant City Heating and AC.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Liveblogging City Council

Just for grins, liveblogging the city council meeting tonight.

Well maybe not.  The live feed from council does not appear to be braodcasting over cable.

7:12 Listening to the meeting livestreaming over the interwebs.  Currently discussing Curbside's application for an A2 liquor license.  Applicants plan to run minivans to transport customers to the restaurant and have two investors behind them.

7:18 Jane Adams is questioning the Curbside applicants extensively about discrepancies between the original application and what they currently say.  Then Lee Fronabarger questions about proposed hours. Applicants say they don't plan to stay open later than midnight.

7:19  Adams still concerned about financing behind the operation.

7:20  Curbside applicants say they will run a significantly different operation than Icebox or Jay's. One of their husbands had worked as a consultant for the previous owner but left after a month after seeing how the operation was run.

7:24  Adams still concerned about  financing.  Mayor Fritzler points out that restaurants have a high failure rate and applauds the applicants for the risk they are taking.

7:26 Jessica Bradshaw asks for further info on parking. Applicants say they plan to have customers park in municipal parking, pick them up and transport them to the restaurant, then return them to their car when finished dining.

7:28  Applicants say they will maintain a family environment.  Fritzler says he is glad they are going on record with this as the city will keep a very, very close eye on the location.

7:29  Application is approved with Adams the sole "No" vote.

7:32  New Kahala Fast Food up now, applying for a liquor license.  Don Monty asks what time the restaurant will close.  Applicant responds "11 p.m.".

7:33  New Kahala application passes unanimously.

7:34  Now reviewing fourth quarter liquor violation reports.  Don Monty, of course, wants to go into more detail.

7:56  Still discussing liquor violation reports.
7:57  Unanimous vote to approve the liquor violation reports.

7:59  Voting on class F1 liquor license for Carbondale Main Street's Welcomefest on Sept 14. Some concern about waiving the fee as has been done for similar events in the past as that was not part of the original request.

8:06  Amending the motion to waive the fee for the liquor license.  Approved.

8:07  Amended motion approved unanimously as well.

8:13  AND they're back..... (after a break to change from the LCC to the City Council).

8:21  Assorted proclamations going on now.

8:24  citizen comments now.

8:30  Now showing a video done to promote the city of Carbondale.  Concluded to a round of applause.

8:34  Consent agenda.  Wanna bet Don Monty pulls at least two items off for a separate vote?

8:38  Nope, only Fronabarger.  He wants Item 5.12 pulled for individual consideration.

8:39  Consent agenda passes by well, unanimous consent. Item 5.12 deals with purchasing additional protective and response gear for the police department.

8:41  Fronabarger wants more information about the equipment to be purchased and why.  Chief responds that the current equipment was purchased in the late '80s and need replacing and updating.

8:52  Request for more equipment passed.

8:53  Meeting still going on.  Request for approval for a TIF agreement for 104 S. Marion.

8:57  That was fast.  Agreement approved unanimously.

8:58  Request for a special use permit for Giant City Heating and Air Conditioning on Neal Lane. Expect quite a bit of discussion on this one.

9:00  Monty, seconded by Adams, moves to deny the permit, saying that several things that should have been built on the property were not built and that the applicant failed to respond to several letters notifying him about violations of the city code.

9:05  Monty argues it is bad public policy to retroactively approve what are essentially long term violations of the city code

9:17  Lance Jack arguing  the business is already a fait acompli,

9:18  Fronabarger asks if the applicant has any contingency plans if the city does not approve the special uses request.  Applicant says no.

9:20  Friend of the applicant asks the city to support small business in Carbondale by approving the application.

9:21  Neighbor of the applicant speaking in opposition, saying that the applicant has made no attempt to upgrade the property during the several years he has been there.  She says the property currently looks the best it has she she has lived on Neal Lane.

9:25  Lance Jack asks why, since the special use permit specifically restricts what can be done there, why should it not be approved, since he could not expand the business.  The neighbor responds that the pattern of behavior over the past seven years does not give any indication that he would follow the special use permit in the future.

9:27  Mother of one of the applicant's employees asked the council to approve the permit so as to keep small business in Carbondale.

9:28  Another neighbor says the road is not suitable for the traffic that the applicant's business generates, citing an example of a semi going to the business and getting stuck on Neal Lane, blocking the road for two hours.  Additional  neighbors say that neighborhood is residential, not commercial and that the applicant has a track record of saying he would maintain the property as residential but kept developing it as a business.

9:41  Don Monty arguing that the applicant has a pattern of not following city code and asking why the city should reward that behavior.

9:42  Applicant arguing that he has getting assorting approvals and permits from the city and had approvals seven years ago.  Says he has followed all the procedures and policies that the city has required.

9:50 Applicant says that instead of building a mobile home as the code required and as he said he would do, he decided to build a residence inside a pole bard, because it fit his needs better.

9:59  Monty asks Chris Wallace if the use of the property for business was ever listed on any of the permits.  Wallace says that it was not.

10:01  Adams adds that the purpose of zoning is to create reasonable trust that the neighborhood I build a home in will follow the rules that the community has agreed to.

10:04  Bradshaw asks if it is possible to have an associated building with out a home in place first.   Wallace says no.

10:09  Jack says that if the applicant would fire his one employee, he would be completely in compliance with city code.

10:13  Going to a vote now.

10:14  Special use permit denied 5 to 2.

10:16  Next up, SIUC is asking for a permit to allow anyone with a catering permit for the university, with a liquor license, to sell liquor at the various SIUC stadiums.

10:18 Question arises about approval for the Glove Factory, which the city attorney says the university did not ask for.    He further says that the ordinance change only allows for a chase bar.  Caterers can serve alcohol any place on campus but can only sell it at permitted places.

10:24  Adams concerned that some caterers may not have a Carbondale liquor license which would preclude them from selling or service liquor at SIUC.

10:26  And the amendment is approved unanimously.

10:26  Fair Days approved unanimously.

10:27  Resolution granting Fair Days status for Welcomefest on Sept 14.  Council is getting tired as they are talking on top of each other to move and second.     Resolution approved unanimously.  Since they are moving to council comments,  I'm out of here.  Have a good evening.

City Council Meeting

City Council and Liquor Control Commission meet tonight.  Main point of interest in the LCC meeting is the request by Curbside Corporation for a class A2 liquor license for 227 West Main.. Two restaurants have failed there within the past year (Icebox Bar and Grille and Jay's), so the owners will have to do something significantly different in order to succeed, mainly make some arrangement to provide better parking.

Given the number of people who spoke regarding this re-zoning request at the Planning Commission meeting, I expect to see quite a discussion bout it during the council meeting proper.

Boo Rochman Park Vandalized

According to this story from WSIL, Boo Rochman Park, known locally at Castle Park, was vandalized by a group of six teenagers last week.  Video footage caught the group walking away after vandalizing a donation box at the park.

Had no idea there was so much vandalism going on at the Park but apparently it is bad enough that the family that built it as a memorial to their son had to cut back evening hours in an attempt to curb it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Business Ribbon Cuttings

Nice to see new businesses opening up and getting the full ribbon cutting presentation from the Chamber of Commerce.  McAlister's Deli (which was already packed when I drove by yesterday afternoon) had its ribbon cutting at 11 this morning and Delish will have one also at 11 a.m. on Friday.