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.