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Thomas Clatterbuck

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Two major proposals came before the Jacksonville City Council this week: a new historic district and plans to improve the wastewater treatment plant.

The Historic District

The proposed historic district actually combines two different designations. The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission wants to get the area lined in the National Register of Historic Districts, and create a local Landmark historic district. Although similar, they perform different functions. The National Register is primarily symbolic. It does identify areas of historic value, the only real change it would make is allowing some property owners tax credits for some improvement projects.

A Local Landmark District is what would really impact property owners. If the district is created, it will require some improvement projects to be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. Owners would be encouraged to keep the style of buildings the same and attempt to match the existing aesthetic as much as possible. However, different materials can be used so long as they look authentic.

Not everyone on the council was receptive to the idea. Alderwoman Marcy Patterson repeatedly pressed presenter Judy Tighe what the actual benefits to the property owners would be. Tighe answered that the main benefits are a preservation of property values, as well as the tax credit opportunities. Patterson noted that the requirements to be eligible for the federal tax credits were often far too burdensome to justify going for. Other council members said they would withhold judgement until after the public hearing on the issue June 13th.

The full discussion starts at the 7:00 mark in the video. You can read the full proposal to find out what properties are included, and the FAQ to learn more.

Wastewater facility improvements

Improving the wastewater treatment plant was far less controversial. The EPA is handing down new rules regarding phosphorus, and the city will have to comply. Phosphorus is an odd pollutant, in that it is actually good for some kinds of life. However, too much phosphorus causes “algal blooms” that consume all of the oxygen in the water, killing everything else in the water. The dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico are a result of these blooms.

Local engineering firm Benton & Associates gave a presentation to the council on what will need to be done. Cameron Jones, one of their engineers, explained the current situation and the impact the new regulations will have. They are still at the study phase of the project, and are looking at a number of approaches to treating the phosphorus.

The full discussion starts at the 39:30 mark in the video.

Policing improvements

The city also heard about plans for a new sub-station at 300 West Walnut. This station would be a part time location, and help with community outreach. Chief Mefford also discussed how the in-car camera grant was progressing. Thanks to the additional $45,000 of the grant and smart buying decisions, the department was able to move forward with improvements to the interview rooms at their station. By coordinating the two projects, they were able to return $33,000 to the city.

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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