Thursday, February 28, 2019

City Council Candidate Forum

Sat in on the League of Women Voters city council candidate forum with current members Loos, Kang and Grant and candidates Fronabarger and Hennrich. Rather uprising how little daylight there was among the five in response to the questions. Of course, the questions were all ones that almost noone would oppose.

Should the Park District be merged into city operations?  Loos, Kang and Fronabarger all said "yes". Hennrich and Grant hewed more closely to the wording of the initiative on the ballot which calls for the merger to be "looked into", with which they agreed.

Should the city enforce restrictions on grass height and encourage other forms of yard growth? All five candidate say yes, the city should have a maximum grass height, that enforcement should have some leeway and that the city should also encourage/allow other forms of ground cover than grass (Seriously? I guess the yellow signs might annoy some people but if you want to have a lawn in the city, it comes with some responsibility).

Do you support the city becoming more energy efficient and utilizing renewable energy? everyone was in favor of this, pointing out that the new streetscape lighting utilizing LED bulbs that consumer far less energy. Installing solar panels was brought up, although candidates showed some concern about funding them.

Growing SIUC?  Yeah, this is a good thing, all the candidates agreed but how? The university itself doesn't expect to reach 25,000 students again, having set a target number of about 18,000 by the middle of the next decade. Loos even commented there was very little the city could do to grow SIUC as that was in the hands of the Board of Trustees and the state.

Water Pollution?  Again, this is a bad thing. All of the candidates agreed that the city should monitor pollutants entering its water supply and look at taking action regarding the use of fertilizer and chemical pollutants in the city. It was pointed out that, due to its location, the city has remarkably little control over its primary water source, Cedar Lake, and could do very little when an industrial poultry farm wanted to locate nearby.

Like I said, not particularly controversial and not a lot of daylight between the candidates. If I got something wrong or missed something, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Candidate Forum

Given the lack of signage around town, there doesn't appear much interest in the upcoming mayoral and city council elections. However, If you do want to hear from those who will represent you (assuming you are a resident of Carbondale) and question the candidates prior to the election, there is a forum featuring them Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center.

I mean, seriously, I have seen 4 signs promoting Nathan Colombo's candidacy for mayor and maybe 2 for current mayor Mike Henry. I don't think I have seen a single sign for any of the city council candidates. For pete's sake, the election is less than 2 months away. You don't like the way the city imposes taxes or regulations, this is your chance to have a say in who puts them into place.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Arbor District Street Work

The city is doing quite a bit of street work in the Arbor District north of West Main. It has torn up a number of streets to replace old and likely corroded water mains with new and likely non-corrosive plastic pipes. The area is still navigable but be careful when driving through as the streets in a number of places have re-opened but still need the asphalt replaces.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Hwy 127

Highway 127 is closed just south of Alto Pass. Drivers getting detoured over to 51 going north from Anna. There is a curve in Highway 127 just south of Alto Pass that all of the recent rain is causing to collapse, meaning IDOT has to shore it up before traffic can safely traverse it again.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

New Businesses

Looks like two new businesses are coming to downtown Carbondale. I noticed a women's clothing shop and a hat boutique opening in the strip mall directly above Traxx. Hope they last longer than the last two clothing shops that opened there. Both lasted less than 6 months in the location. Needing to climb steps to get to either location makes them problematical for customers, unless they really prove destination stores.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

DQ Open

You know it is springtime in Carbondale, or at least getting close, when the downtown Dairy Queen opens for business. Not sure when it did but when I drove by this afternoon, the neon was on in all its glory.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Ex Chamber Head Has New Gig

Ex-Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Les O'Dell has opened Two Beans and a Bug in Murdale Shopping Center, as a resale shop and resource center for foster parents.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Wanna Buy Into Downtown

Fat Patties, Pagliai's and Hangar 9 are all up for sale. Sally Carter, owner of Hangar 9, wants to spend more time caring for her husband and Lance Jack, owner of Fat Patties, wants to move on to the next stage in his life. No idea why Pagliai's wants to sell.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Cave In Rock Ferry

The ferry at Cave In Rock has shut down due to high water on the Ohio River. Probably will not reopen until Feb. 24 and means an extra 35 mile drive for those who normally use it. Also will cut inton Cave In Rock's tourist business as the ferry is a major attraction for the town.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

GeekBetty Pop Up Shop

In case you are interested in vintage clothing, local online retailer GeekBetty will have a pop up shop on Feb 24, hosted by Fringe. From the press release:

Offering an opportunity to shop GeekBetty Vintage’s collection of vintage clothing, jewelry, and accessories at Fringe the Salon at 112 N. Illinois Avenue in Carbondale, IL.
Carbondale, IL February 24th 2019: Fringe the Salon in downtown Carbondale will be hosting a pop-up shop for Vintage and Art on Sunday, February 24th, 2pm - 6pm featuring local vintage seller GeekBetty Vintage and art by Samantha Ronketto. This is a one day only special event.

Monday, February 11, 2019

City Council Agenda

Here is the agenda for tomorrow night's city council meeting. A topic of major concern to downtown businesses is parking and the council is scheduled to discuss that. Slowly, parking meters have vanished from downtown, getting replaced by pay kiosks, which are certainly more practical given that a lot of people do not carry change these days:

1. Preliminaries to the City Council Meeting
1.1 Roll Call 1
.2 Council Comments, General Announcements, and Proclamations
 1.3 Citizens' Comments and Questions 2. Public Hearings and Special Reports
 2.1 Presentation of the Street Condition Survey/Study Project (ST1802) by Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. (TWM) 3. Consent Agenda of the City Council
3.1 Approval of Minutes from the Regular City Council Meeting of January 22, 2019
3.2 Acceptance of Approved Meeting Minutes from Boards, Commissions, and Committees
 3.3 Approval of Warrant for the Period Ending: 01/25/2019 for the FY 2019 Warrant 1347 in the Total Amount of $1,048,297.37
3.4 Approval of Wells Fargo Warrant for the Period Ending 12/31/2018 FY 2019 Warrant # WF 12/2018 in the amount of $128,505.73
3.5 Resolution Commending Gary Belles for Service to the City of Carbondale
3.6 Approval of Sanitary Sewer Lift Station Lining by Spectra Tech, LLC in the Amount of $43,500 3.7 Approval of a Temporary Easement to Ameren Illinois for the Construction of a Natural Gas Pipeline on East Main Street
3.8 Award of Purchase of Two (2) 31 Cubic Yard Dual Arm Fully-Automated Refuse Trucks to Key Equipment Company of Bridgeton, MO in the amount of $662,234
 3.9 Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute an Engineering Agreement with Asaturian Eaton and Associates P.C. in the Amount of $48,000 for the Design of the New Era Road Reconstruction (ST1901) Project
 3.10 Resolution Authorizing a Three (3) Year Extension of the Manhole Rehabilitation Project (SA0901) with Spectra Tech, LLC
 3.11 Resolution Approving the Final Plat of the Quattro Development - Carbondale Minor Subdivision and the Subdivision Agreement
3.12 Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Submit an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Bike Path Program Grant
3.13 Resolution Appropriating $52,800 in Matching Funds for SIMPO Project to Reconstruct Freeman Street from Glenview Drive to Oakland Avenue
3.14 Approval of Consent Agenda Items 4. General Business of the City Council
4.1 Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Enter Into An Agreement with Champion Community Investments as Part of the DCEO Revolving Loan Fund Closeout Recapture Strategy
4.2 City Council Discussion Regarding Downtown Parking
4.3 Ordinance Creating No Parking Zones on Various Streets Within the Northeast Quadrant of the City
5. Executive Session
5.1 Vote to Enter into Executive Session to Discuss the Setting of Price for the Sale or Lease of Property Owned by the Public Body and to Discuss Pending or Imminent Litigation
 5.2 Motion to Reenter into Open Session
 6. Adjournment of the City Council Meeting
 6.1 Adjourn meeting

Friday, February 8, 2019

Census Count Committee

Apparently we are worried that we will not get a complete count of the Carbondale population in the 2020 census. It is important in that, not only does the census determine how many representatives in the House the state will get, and based on population trends, Illinois will lose a couple and downstate will probably get redistricted resulting in more counties under one representative, but it also helps determine how much federal funding the region will get. The apportioning of funds gets determined, in many cases, by the population size. Ergo, even with the decline in the number of students at SIUC, if the census shows a growth in Carbondale residents, it will be easier for the city to make a solid case for more grants and funding

Census Complete Count Committee AGENDA
February 13, 2019,
 1:00 p.m. Room 103- Carbondale Civic Center
1. Introductions
2. Recap of the first meeting
3. Goals of the Committee
 4. Future Meetings
5. General Discussion
 6. Adjourn 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Nathan Colombo Interview

As mentioned yesterday, I sat down with Carbondale Mayoral candidate Nathan Colombo last week with some questions about his candidacy. I did let him look them over before publishing to make sure I got his responses correct. The only change was a correction in the first paragraph to his statement referencing the age of about 50% of Carbondale's population. Hoping to catch up with Mayor Mike Henry and other members of the city council that are up for election as well:

Why did you decide to run? I feel that, given that Carbondale has a population that is nearly 50% young people, aged 20 to 34, city government and the council could use a more youthful perspective. The student population is very important to Carbondale’s economic and social well being but students, feeling that they do not have a voice,  demonstrate a noticeable apathy toward the system. I hope to break through and deal with that apathy. From my discussions with students, it appears they do not feel as connected to the city as they once did.

How will you work to change this feeling of apathy? Just showing up will help a lot. I hope to model activity on that of Murphysboro mayor Will Stevens and make it a point to show up to as many events in the community as possible. I want to increase the amount of communication between the city and its residents. I do not feel, for example, that the need for and purpose of the recently enacted food and beverage tax was well communicated prior to its passage. I like the idea of the monthly Meet the Mayor sessions but would like them focused around a particular theme each month, as I feel that would draw more people to the events.  I am very active on social media and would use all of my social media accounts to communicate both with students and the community at large.

What would you focus on as Mayor? I feel that the current city government has does a good job focusing on the city’s infrastructure, such as the downtown streetscape. I would, instead, focus on the city’s culture. Carbondale had, and has a vibrant music subculture and I would like to emphasize that. Using the Washington Street concert venue as an example, should the city continue to use a mobile facility for events or build a permanent structure? People have approached me about a possible TIFF district on the east side of town. I don’t know about that but if enough residents are interested, it is something at which we could look. Our sales tax revenue dropped by $800,000 this past year. I want to keep sales taxes at the current level while looking into ways to bring more residents and especially shoppers into town. 5 businesses are responsible for nearly 12% of the city’s sales tax revenue.

Is there anything you wish I had asked? I would like to work to bring more industry into Carbondale, both to grow the economic base and to give students a reason to stay, rather than leaving after they graduate. I would like to work to grow our bio-products industry. Under the new farm bill, the production of industrial hemp was legalized and I think that is something the community should look into. We have a world class media program at SIUC and I would like to see Carbondale take advantage of it by developing a media industry utilizing that program.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Nathan Colombo

Had the opportunity to talk with candidate for Carbondale mayor Nathan Colombo last week. As soon as I get my notes transcribed, I will post them. Election is coming in about 2 months.

Friday, February 1, 2019

SIU Public Policy Institute in Springfield?

Seems a much better use of the money to improve facilities on either the SIUC or SIUE campus. Not sure why SIU would need a public policy center in Springfield. AFter all, SIUC has the well regarded Paul Simon Institute on campus. Why develop something that moves focus away from SIUC and Carbondale? From the Capitol Fax blog:

Southern Illinois University could establish a presence in downtown Springfield under a plan introduced in the legislature today by State Senator Andy Manar.
Manar’s plan (Senate Bill 179) would set aside $50 million in state capital funds for a grant to SIU for costs associated with the construction of a campus and public policy center. The site would have to be within 1 mile of the SIU School of Medicine at 801 N. Rutledge St.
“There is enormous potential in the idea of SIU placing a public policy center steps from the Capitol,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a key Senate budget committee. “Coupled with a law school or something associated with the medical school, I think SIU could have a significant and lasting impact on downtown Springfield and the capital city at large.”
In March 2018, SIU officials indicated they were interested in putting a satellite law school campus in either downtown Springfield or in Edwardsville. Local officials have discussed the possibility of a higher education presence downtown, possibly on the long-vacant YWCA block just north of the governor’s mansion. The site would be a perfect location for an SIU campus, Manar said.
He also noted that the timing is right for the legislation with discussions about a potential capital bill under way.
“There should be something substantial for Springfield in the capital bill when it happens,” he said.