Watching the livestream of the city council tonight. Turned it on about 7:25 p.m. during citizen comments.
7:25 Gentleman is asking the average salary of a Carbondale police officer. Told it is between $40,000 to $50,000.
7:27 Council now discussing the request to vacate the alley
behind 805 West Sycamore Street. The alley provides access to the building that last served as Oakland Avenue Auto Service. The southern part of the alley was vacated in 1996. No comments from the audience, which is rather small giving that rescinding the Halloween closure audience is on the agenda.
7:30 Moving on to consent agenda. Don Monty and Lee Fronabarger both requested several items removed from the consent agenda for individual votes: Mayor Fritzler indicated he planned to appoint Carolyn Haney and
Rebecca Whittington to the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Board.
7:35 5.6 on sidewalk improvements
, Apparently Monty pulled this from the consent agenda so he could point out the city was doing work on sidewalks as it appsed unanimously after some discussion about sidewalk conditions by Monty and the Mayor.
7:39 Item 5:11
Resolution for the city manager to submit an application for funds from the Home-ownership Trust Fund of the Emergency Loan Assistance program. Again, Councilman Monty appears to just want to clarify the purpose of the resolution as there is no discussion, aside from himself, before the vote.
7:42 Item 5:12
Transferring funds into Building and Neighborhood Services for the purchase of a new vehicle. A few questions about the type of vehicle BNS will purchase. Approved unanimously, not a big surprise.
7:49 Item 5:14
Item making some technical changes to the revised code. Some references and formatting errors corrected. Apparently pulled to acknowledge the amount of effort put into the revisions.
Item approving the BPL for the proposed Panda Express which apparently will go into the one-time proposed University Village strip mall location, which never came to fruition. Fronabarger wanting to know about the status of a proposed road that was to extend from the front of Bed, Bath and Beyond to Highway 13. City Manager Baity says the road idea has been abandoned. Fronabarger also concerned about a proposed pedestrian walkway in the area. Councilwoman Bradshaw wants to know if Panda Express has looked at locating in the mall, but apparently Panda Express is moving towards free-standing drive through restaurants. Councilwoman Adams asked about the proposed strip mall and was told the idea has been abandoned. Bradshaw further concerned about additional competition to Carbondale's existing Chinese restaurants. Lance Jack points out that, as long as Panda Express follows zoning and health regulations, there is little the city could or should do to prevent it locating here. Passed unanimously.
8:05 item 5:16
Appointments to Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau and Sustainability Commissions. Fronabarger wants to know what the criteria are for appointments to the commissions. Fritzler says he is trying to broaden the diversity of viewpoints on the boards, hence the appointments of Carolyn Harvey and Rebecca Whittington to the CCTB and Adam Loos to Sustainability. During the vote, Fronabarger abstains and Lance Jack votes no. Others vote in favor.
8:10 Request for TIF increment financing
for the building at 116 N. Illinois. Plan is to redo the facade including making some stained glass now hidden visible. Request passes.
8:17 Now discussing vacating the alley
behind 805 West Sycamore. City recommends not vacating it, due to the sanitary sewer system under the alley. Should the council vote to vacate the alley, it would still retain an easement to access the sewer system. Lots of discussion regarding access to the sewer system. Sent back to staff for more research on where the sewer line is.
8:34 Ordinance to allow restaurants that sell liquor but generate 51% of their sales from food and non-alcoholic drinks to stay open past 2 a.m. Currently, these establishments must close at 2 a.m. Missed the outcome to this as nature called.
8:45 City Council in recess.
8:50 Ordinance repealing the "Halloween closure "
ordinance under discussion now. Not a large turnout for the discussion. You cannot see this on camera but the seating space is half that it was for the last meeting. City staff, unlike other ordinances, has not taken a position on this one, instead offering four alternatives. Monty proposes ending the closures for one year as a trial. Mayor Fritzler wonders why the media don't show film of Street Machine Nationals from fifteen years ago but keep showing video of Halloween riots past.
9:02 Monty pointing out that rescinding the ordinance would only eliminate the closure part of the current ordinance, all other restrictions would remain in place. Bradshaw wants to see some of the Liquor Advisory Board recommendations included in an amended ordinance, specifically restrictions on keg sales. Adams also likes rescinding the closures for one year in order to see what happens. Mayor Fritzler and Fronabarger both point out that the people coming in for Halloween will always be 19-25, no matter when it happens, and need to consider the risks to the perception of downtown.
9:08 Fritzler points out the correlation between the ending of the Halloween celebration and the high point of SIUC attendance. Since the closures went into effect, SIUC attendance has slowly declined. Probably not causal but both symptoms of something else. City attorney points out that, should Halloween activities get out of hand, the mayor has the authority to declare an emergency curfew. He also points out that bars do not have to open should the ordinance be repealed and would then get refunded their liquor license fee.
9;25 Mayor Frizler indicates that SIUC is not really happy with the discussion taking place about changing the ordinance. If they were more concerned about it (editorializing here), the university should have kept Fall Break on Halloween weekend, rather than moving it back to earlier in the month. He also indicates surprise that not more people show up for the meeting.
9:26 Adams moves to suspend the existing ordinance for one year, seconded by Bradshaw. Frizler and Fronabarger vote no, Jack abstains so motion passes 4 to 2.
9:29 In council comments, Lance Jack recommends the city sends a letter to local media and bar owners, asking them to treat this as a highly busy weekend but not out of the ordinary, otherwise. He also asks the police about how much protective equipment the department has . Not much, apparently and almost all of that was purchased during the 1980s. Chief O'Guinn also noted that at lest 65% of police staff has been hired after the last Halloween so have not experienced it as an officer.
9:35 Fronabarger citing an article on how Chattanooga TN turned itself around. the mayor of Chattanooga is quoted as saying "By making it the best place to live for people who live there." Adams uses this as a segue into a discussion of fundraising for the Carbondale Splash Park.
9:37 Council meeting ends, or at least goes off tv. Thanks for reading.