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.