Thursday, January 30, 2020

Quall's Hats

I see the paper is off the windows at Quall's Hats and Company on West Walnut behind Phoenix Cycle. Hopefully this means they will open sometime soon. The store missed the prime holiday shopping season but maybe their target market will buy hats in the spring. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Parking Passes

After deliberation, the city has decided to make downtown parking passes for  employees and residents available for $25 a year for residents and $30 per year for employees. I guess the plan is to take the money Still would have liked to see the city extend the text for a full year to see if there was any effect on holiday sales

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Metal Detector

Apparently it has been awhile since I have attended a city council meeting as I did not know attendees now have to pass through a metal detector before entering council chambers. I guess that goes along with the locks securing access to the upper floor of the building. You cannot get onto the 2nd floor without having the door or elevator unlocked.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Christmas Decorations

I notice that there are still a surprising number of houses and businesses that still have Christmas decorations and lights up. By my count, at least 17 places in town still have something up, including 3 houses on Old 13 West of Carbondale.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

MLK Jr. St.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday's city council meeting is a proposal to investigate changing one of the streets in Carbondale from its current name to Martin Luther King Jr. Street. A student group pushed mightily back about 2008 to change the name of a street in town to that of MLK Jr. but the push for that only lasted about a semester and ended when the prime movers in the group graduated and left town. Since this impetus for a name change now apparently comes from community residents rather than students without long term ties to Carbondale, something will more likely happen.

Since any name change would result in significant inconvenience for any residents along the street, due to them having to update their addresses on all official correspondence. One proposed way to get around this is to make the name change unofficial as when the council voted to unofficially rename two streets after retiring council members Chris Wissmann and Jane Adams. Doing this would put King's name on street signs in town but the official name of the street would remain the same.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Polar Bear

Looks as if, even without main sponsor Pinch Penny Pub, the traditional Polar Bear festivities will take place this weekend. I have heard stories of drunken students congesting on sidewalks along West Walnut and in the Arbor District area. Looks as if Levels, Saluki Bar and Grill, PK's and Dream all have some Polar Bear specials on offer

Friday, January 24, 2020

Downtown Parking

If you want to get your 2, or twenty-five cents, in on changes to the downtown parking ordinances, the city council will take them up at next Tuesday's meeting at 6 p.m.. Currently the proposals are a $30 permit for employees of downtown businesses for 6 months and a $25 annual parking permit for residents of Carbondale. Proof of employment and/or proof of residency would be required for either along with the payment. Additionally, the ordinance regarding senior citizen permits would allow commercial vehicles to use a senior citizen permit only when the registered senior citizen is present.


Ordinances Amending Title 18 Chapter 12 of the Carbondale Revised Code by Establishing Sections 16 and 17 for Downtown Employee Parking and Resident Parking Permits and an Ordinance Amending the Types of Vehicles for Which a Senior Citizen Parking Permit May be Issued Pursuant to Title Eighteen Chapter Twelve Section 12



Recommended Action

Approve Ordinances establishing a Downtown Employee Parking Permit and Resident Parking Permit and approve an Ordinance amending Title Eighteen Chapter Twelve Section 12 as it relates to the types of vehicles for which a Senior Citizen Parking Permit may be utilized


Originating Department: Finance


In late August 2018, a petition in support of free parking for downtown employees was submitted to the Carbondale City Council. A public discussion regarding this proposal took place during the February 12, 2019, City Council meeting. In response to the input from the Council and the public, a survey of business owners was conducted, and several internal meetings were held to develop recommendations.

A Resolution suspending the enforcement of metered parking in the downtown and authorizing the City Manager to issue up to 10 employee parking passes to each downtown business was adopted in May 2019, effective July 1, 2019, through January 1, 2020. Staff monitored the utilization of parking during this period to ascertain whether the free parking program helped attract more people to the downtown. Following the analysis of parking usage, it was the opinion of Staff that the free parking trial period did not result in an increase in consumer traffic and, as such, advised the City Council to reinstate meter enforcement.

On December 10, 2019, the City Council approved a Resolution reinstating the enforcement of metered parking in the downtown area effective January 2, 2020. A Resolution allowing the issuance of up to ten (10) employee parking passes to downtown businesses to allow employees to park without meter payment failed to be approved. During the discussion of the employee parking pass Resolution, the Council asked City Staff to bring back additional options for parking in the downtown.

On January 14, 2020, the City Council discussed two City Staff proposals (listed below as Ordinance 1 and Ordinance 2) and heard comments from those in attendance. While many alternatives were proposed, there was no consensus reached as to the specific direction for both permits. Therefore, they are being re-submitted with minimal adjustments.

To clarify Staff's reasoning for the differences in the permits, we offer the following:

  • The resident permit is being proposed as a choice, and benefit, for permanent residents of Carbondale. It's not intended for temporary or transient residents of the City.
  • A resident can purchase the convenience of not having to pay a meter or kiosk whenever they park in a City-owned parking space.
  • The utilization of a resident permit is determined by the individual resident; it could be daily or sporadically.
  • The convenience of having a resident permit may facilitate increased usage of downtown businesses.
  • Downtown employee permits have an expectation of constant and consistent utilization, as well as convenience; this expectation justifies the higher price.
  • A high percentage of downtown businesses offer service industry jobs which generally have high turnover. This was the justification for permitting employees to only purchase passes in up to 6 month increments.
  • The downtown employee permit is an 80% reduction in parking costs from the current purchase price of a monthly parking permit ($25 to $5 per month).
  • A downtown employee who is also a permanent resident would have the option of purchasing either permit.
  • Due to high employee turnover rates in many downtown businesses, Staff's preference is to require the employee to purchase passes rather than the individual businesses. We've received some feedback from businesses indicating that there were problems managing passes for their employees due to passes not being returned following a change of employment or due to employees sharing or losing passes. Requiring employees to purchase passes will provide greater control over how many passes are issued.
  • The employee parking permit would not preclude a downtown business from reimbursing their employees for the cost of the permit, but does not mandate additional costs or management to downtown business owners.

The following three ordinances are a result of consultation among City Staff:

Ordinance 1: Downtown Employee Parking Permit - Cost $5/month
Employees of downtown businesses may purchase a permit for $5/month (with a six-month pre-purchase maximum) to park in a metered stall in the Carbondale downtown area with the same exclusions as in Title 18-12-12. Proof of employment by a downtown business would be required for eligibility. The permit would be nontransferable and valid for passenger vehicles only.

Ordinance 2: Carbondale Resident Parking Permit - Cost $25/calendar year
Residents of Carbondale may purchase a permit for $25/calendar year to park in a metered stall in the City with the same exclusions as in Title 18-12-12. Proof of residency would include a government-issued ID or a voter registration card listing a Carbondale address. The permit would be nontransferable and valid for passenger vehicles only.

Ordinance 3: Amend the Senior Citizen Parking Permit
Amends the Senior Citizen Parking Permit language in Title Eighteen Chapter Twelve Section 12 to restrict commercial vehicles to utilize a valid permit only when in use for the transportation of senior citizens.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sustainability Commission Survey Report

Carbondale's Sustainability Commission recently surveyed a sample of Carbondale residents as to which sustainability issues they feel are most important for the city to tackle. Here is the press release from the Commission summarizing the results:

The Carbondale Sustainability Commission announced the results of its fall 2019 survey.  These results reflect the priorities of the 483 respondents on possible strategies to include in the City's Sustainability Action Plan.  The plan’s aim is to establish a vision for a sustainable and resilient Carbondale and actionable goals and strategies for addressing climate change threats, such as flash floods followed by drought.  
Five sectors for achieving greater sustainability were addressed in the survey, and more will be added in subsequent phases of the Sustainability Action Plan’s implementation.  The proposed strategies in each sector were selected based on public input, City staff input, and action plans of other U.S. cities.  The most popular strategies among survey respondents were as follows.
·         Energy Use in Built Structures: install solar panels on city buildings (in the works); support community solar buy; increase energy efficiency through education and weatherization of homes.
·         Energy Use in Transportation: increase walk-ability with more sidewalks and bike-ability with safety measures.
·         Green Infrastructure: manage stormwater (in the works); plant more trees and gardens, esp. with native plants, and in place of lawns; set goals to reduce water/air pollution.
·         Food Production and Consumption: encourage locally grown food (gardens and markets); educate to reduce food waste.
·         Waste Reduction:  make it easier for people in apartments to recycle; develop composting facility for Carbondale; encourage composting for schools and homes; host zero waste events; reduce single use plastics (with a fee or ban on some).

These strategies will be the topic of consultations with City staff in the next months, and lead to a community-wide open house to increase public participation and buy-in.  The full survey report is available on the City website: look under Sustainability Commission.  Commission meetings are held at City Hall on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.; the Action Plan subcommittee meets on the first Thursday at 3:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mayor Henry

Heard a rumor that this will be Mayor Henry's last term as he wants to move on and do something else. Opens up the mayoral race for another shot by either Jane Adams or Nathan Colombo.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

J. C. Penny's

J. C. Penny's announced it would close 6 stores and a call center today. I was worried, after the Pier One and Macy's announcements, that Carbondale would be on the list. None in the state of Illinois though. Incidentally, J.C. Penny's was the first store to move into University Mall when it opened decades ago.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Town Square Lights

I see the city has left the lights up around the light poles on the Town Square, even after the rest of the Christmas decor has come down. Here's hoping the plan is to leave them up year round as they certainly brighten up the Square at night.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Downtown Parking

One thing businesses could do to provide free parking for their employees is to contact the local churches, of which there are several in the downtown area. Since most churches hold services on Sunday morning and Wednesday afternoon, and maybe Saturday night, there is a lot of empty parking sitting there during the rest of the week. Reaching out and asking the church if it would be OK for employees to park there during the times the church does not need the lot for parking for parishioners would help the employees and employees and not burden the churches any. Of course, if you run a business at the south end of Illinois would still have a walk of several blocks but apparently that is better than paying for parking.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

And Then There Was One

Looks as if Vape, Inc, which was located in Eastgate Shopping Center, has closed down or moved, leaving only one vape shop, of which I know, in Carbondale. At their peak, abut 3-4 years ago, Carbondale boasted half a dozen vape shops, 2 in downtown, Vape Inc. in East Gate, 618 Vape on East Grand and two on the west side. Now, only 618 Vape remains.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Main Street Laundry

Main Street Laundromat, which has been a fixture on East Main since I came to Carbondale in 1990, has shuttered its doors. The lights are out and there are "For Sale" signs posed on the doors.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Position Open

The position of Executive Director for Keep Carbondale Beautiful will open up soon. It is a part time position requiring about 20 hours of committment per week and pays, I believe, $950 per month or around $11 per hour. Any applicant would need good organizational ability and a strong interest in Carbondale and environmental issues.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Free Parking

Letter to the editor regarding the end of the free parking experiment in Carbondale. Rather wonder how many of them attended the city council meeting at which the council decided to end the experiment? They should pull the numbers for 4th quarter tax collection after Jan 20 and compare it with 4th quarter for 2018. I do agree that the city should have run the experiment for an entire year and see how the holiday season and a second semester of students affected receipts. 

Buckwater Brewery

Buckwater Brewery looks every closer to opening as much of the interior looks refurbished from its days as the Street Bar and there is a Now Hiring sign on the marquee. The brewpub looks as if it will go from renovation to opening before the planned operation in the old fire station on the west side of town even gets started.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

$4000 building

According to the new owner, 213 West Main sold at a sealed tax auction for only $4000. Of course, it is going to take some $80,000+ additional to update the building for any reasonable use. Going to have to keep an eye on upcoming auctions for unpaid taxes.

Monday, January 13, 2020

City Council Meeting

City Council meeting tomorrow night at 6 p.m. Among other topics, the council will discuss rewriting the current liquor code and parking permits for employees of downtown businesses and downtown residents.  

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Restaurants That Use Biodegradable Packaging

Ran across a thread on social media listing local restaurants that had switched to biodregradable packing, either in whole or part. If that matters to you, here is a partial list:

Thai Taste
New Kahala
Keeper's Quarters
Mama Pang inside PK's

Friday, January 10, 2020

City Council Park District Meeting

The city council met last night to discuss the discussion of absorbing the park district and its functions into Carbondale city operations, rather than continuing to have the park district continue to operate as a separate entity. From what I have heard, despite the discussion about this in the media, only 8 people had enough interest to show up to the meeting.
From what  I can tell, one of the big sticking points to any agreement is Hickory ridge Golf course, which has hemorrhaged money for decades and shows no sign of stopping.  Almost all local school teams have abandoned the course to practice at other facilities so no fees from schools coming in.  The Park District has also maxed out the amount of property tax it can raise without going back to the voters and asking for a tax increase. Given the level of taxes in Carbondale already and with no plan in place to deal with Hickory Ridge, I doubt the Park District could make a good case for another property tax increase.

Not sure how the process would go but seems to me the best thing the district could do is put Hickory Ridge up for sale and let a private developer deal with it and take the revenues freed up from that for some much needed maintenance on other park properties.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

We're Number One...

in terms of people moving out. More people moved out of Jackson County over the past ten years than any other county in southern Illinois. Anderson County was number two with a full quarter of the county's population decamping. In fact, Williamson County was the only one to add  any population and that a measly 700 people. Of course, Jackson and Anderson are in (good) company as 93 out of 102 of the counties in the state lost population. Even mighty Chicago lost 1.2% of its population

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Parking Tickets

Apparently people have not realized that free parking ended on the First of the month. A poster on Facebook noted 6 parking tickets on cars within one block in one day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Macy's to Close

In yet another hit to the Carbondale economy, the 30 year old Macy's store will close around the end of April.  Clearance sales start later this month and will run through the end of April. After that, the company hopes you will drive to Cape Girardeau to shop at the closest store or purchase online. this leaves only J.C. Pennys and Kohls as sources for a large selection of high quality of brand name clothing in the Carbondale area and will encourage even more sales leakage outside the boarders of southern Illinois. Several business women I know have told me over the years that they purchase most of their professional clothing online or in St. Louis, as they cannot find any quality clothing locally.

This leaves J. C. Penny and Bed Bath and Beyond as the anchor stores for a mall that 2 decades ago hosted Penny's, Montgomery Wards, Sears and Macy's.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Pier One

Pier One announced today that the company will close about 450 stores, just under half the stores in the chain, as it works to regroup in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy. No idea if the Carbondale store will be among those closing but would not surprise me. Never do see a lot of cars parked in front of the building.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Free Parking

Just a heads up that it appears free parking in downtown has ended. It was scheduled to stop on Jan 1 and all of the bags that had covered the parking meters announcing 3 hours free parking have vanished.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Residential TIF District

The city is proposing creating a TIF district that would incorporate a lot of the residential areas to the north of the SIUC campus. Essentially, when a city creates a TIF district, it sets a baseline property tax. Any property tax increases on properties located within the district go into a separate fund. Part of the money allocated to the fund goes into the city's general fund, the city can only use the other part for improvements within the TIF district, such as sewer upgrades, sidewalk repair, etc.and to offset any initial investment by the city in the district.  After the TIF district expires, all of the taxes collected go into the general fund. Typically, cities use TIF districts to revitalize commercial areas and the current TIF districts in Carbondale  primarily encompass those sorts of properties. However, there is nothing in the statute forbidding their use in residential areas although it would have to meet the same requirements as a commercial area, i.e. the area must be designated as blighted, it meets the "but for" standard and the city must put forward a plan as to the use of TIF funds. TIF Here is one way it would work:

"For example, assume that a municipality wants to develop an area that includes two parcels that contain substandard commercial buildings. Let’s also assume that both of these parcels are paying $30,000 per year in property taxes. However, the municipality finds that by making an investment of $500,000 to rehabilitate the buildings on the two parcels and provide necessary infrastructure, private developers will commit an additional $2,000,000, making the commercial buildings available for new use. This additional investment causes the property to increase in assessed value, for example — and conservatively — leading to the tax paid on each parcel going from $30,000 per year in property taxes to $60,000 per year. The public and private investment would increase the total property taxes paid from $60,000 each year ($30,000 per parcel), to $120,000 each year ($60,000 per parcel). The project would result in $60,000 in new tax increment, which the municipality could use to off-set its original investment in less than nine years. After this initial investment is paid-off, the newly generated increment can be used for additional investments in the area."

Friday, January 3, 2020

Preservation Committee Meeting

In case you are free at 2 p.m on Jan 7th, the preservation committee has a meeting scheduled, in case you want to weigh in. Looks as if the committee wants to plan an entire month of Preservation themed events for this May:

A. Plan for Preservation Month 2020
a. Discuss ideas for a historic bike ride
 b. Discus Picnic and Flag Raising
i. Cost of bands and venue
c. Discuss Logistics for the Gala
i. Is Art Space available during May 2020?
1. Cost for venue and caterer
ii. Cost for historic markers
d. Review past bus and audio tour guides and routes
 e. Month long initiative ideas
i. Radio and news historic tidbits for the day/ week
 ii. Call for historic photo donations
B. Discuss funding options
 a. Advertising budget
b. Fund raising
c. Create a budget to present to Development Services 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

See Click Fix

I have mentioned this app before but am still impressed at how quickly the city responds when you send notice of a problem with city streets via it. I have submitted several budding potholes in the past month and the city streets department has filled them within 2-3 days time. Very impressive.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

1st Wish for the New Year

Maybe not the most important thing to you, but one thing I would really like to see is the city install a sign identifying the downtown bike path. It was put in almost a year ago and still no sign of a sign. Meanwhile, cyclists still use the sidewalks and bike the wrong way on one way streets.