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Jacksonville approves revolving loan, hears about watershed improvements

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The plans to improve the Northridge Golf Course were given a boost at this week’s city council meeting. The Jacksonville city council voted to approve a $125,000 loan to Rohn Investments, Inc. for their proposal.  However, it almost didn’t happen.

At the last meeting, John Rohn made his formal request to the council for the loan. His initial request was for far more than the funds available in the Revolving Loan account, so the council discussed how much they wanted to approve. They settled on the $125,000 amount.

Prior to the vote to approve the loan application, Alderman Warmowski proposed an amendment to increase the loan amount by $20,000. After discussion about the actual amount of money in the Revolving Loan fund, the amendment passed 3-2-1. Now the proposal was for a loan of $145,000. This vote failed 2-3-1.

Suddenly there was a problem. Because the council had already voted on the issue, it would normally be inappropriate to vote on the issue again at the same meeting. However, seeing no objection, Warmowski motioned to reconsider the question at the original $125,000 amount. This vote did pass 4-1-1.  Alderman Mike Wankel abstained in all of the votes to avoid a potential conflict of interests.

The council also voted against adding a stop sign at the corner of Michigan and Hardin. This proposal had been discussed at previous meetings, and was requested by South Jacksonville. The the vending machine proposal for Community Park was tabled.

The workshop session

The administration office wanted to lease a new copy machine. That may seem insignificant, but Jacksonville still conducts much of its business offline, including sending out bills. By leasing a more cost-effective copy machine, they expect to save over $200 per month in direct costs.

Superintendent of Administration Sally Long also took this opportunity to discuss the paperless options that the utilities department has been adding. She noted that they have not done a very effective job at spreading the word about this option. More consumers going paperless would save even more money for the departments. Those online options can be found at the link: https://jacksonville.merchanttransact.com

The second half of the workshop session was a presentation about the Lake Mauvaise Terra watershed project. This project was designed to limit the pollutants entering the lake, including manganese’s, phosphorus, nitrates, and sediment. The lake has been listed as “impaired” by the EPA due to these issues.

The recent project successfully reduced the amount of pollution entering the lake. While this was welcome news, it is only the start of what needs to be done for the watershed. As can be seen in the report, only a modest fraction of real goal has been achieved so far.

You can read the full report here. You can watch the full meeting below:

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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.

Announcements

Boil Order issued for parts of Deerfield Subdivision

Staff Contributor

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Press Release | City Water, Light and Power is issuing a boil order for parts of Deerfield subdivision, where a water service was repaired recently. Customers affected who are receiving notices today include these duplexes in Deerfield subdivision:

5300 thru 5411 Biltmore Dr.
2300 thru 2414 Asheville Dr.
2300 thru 2411 Knoxville Dr.
2204 & 2205 Thrasher Dr. & 5304 & 5305 Murre Dr.

Customers affected should boil all tap water used for drinking or cooking before use until this order is lifted. Water should be brought to a “rolling” boil for five minutes and then cooled before use when appropriate.

This boil order follows repair work to a water service on Asheville Drive. Per regulations, the main was flushed and multiple water samples were taken. One set of the samples did not fully meet CWLP water quality standards. Additional water quality sampling is being done to confirm that the water meets all standards and at such time, this boil order would be lifted.

When the boil order is lifted, which at the earliest would be this Friday afternoon, March 22, it will be announced by door to door notifications to customers affected and on CWLP’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/4CWLP and Twitter page, www.twitter.com/cwlp_. Customers affected wanting more information on their service may also call the Water Communications Desk at 789-2323 ext. 2.

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Business

Washington Street redevelopment gets TIF support

Thomas Clatterbuck

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A new downtown hotel development took a big step forward at the Springfield City Council Meeting. DK Collection SPI received $7.65 million in TIF funding to incentivize their $56 million project. These funds will offset property taxes once the project is completed. Unlike some TIF projects, the hotel will only get the TIF benefit after the construction is completed and it starts to owe taxes. However, the developers said that this support was key to making the project a viable investment.

The development will be more than just a hotel, and will include both luxury apartments and various entertainment venues. During construction, it should create between 400 to 600 jobs, including 15 to 30 summer jobs for local youths. The site itself will employ 130 to 150 full and part time positions.

The council was very supportive of the new development. In addition to the initial jobs and investment, there are hopes that it will draw more conventions and visitors to Springfield. Although there were some concerns about adding competition, the extended-stay style of the new hotel was seen as filling a different niche in the tourism scene.

Parking was the only serious concern for the development. Springfield may have more downtown parking than many cities, but adding several hundred new jobs and visitors creates a logistical challenge. Existing parking companies downtown expressed their concerns about the potential displacement of people who currently park in the areas that will be redeveloped. Alderman Joe McMenamin echoed these concerns, and suggested that the council was moving too quickly to approve the project. McMenamin referenced the Hy-Vee TIF project, where he said taking more time led to better outcomes for both the developer and the city.

Other aldermen disagreed. Alderman Andrew Proctor said that he had received no complains or messages about the potential parking issue. Mayor Langfelder said that parking patterns shift over the course of the day, and that lots that are under-utilized at night could be looked at to alleviate any shortage. The developer also said that since the last meeting, they had negotiated with other property owners downtown and changed some of their designed, and had added a significant amount of parking to their plan.

After calling the question to end debate, the Council voted 9-1 in favor of approving the TIF funds. Despite voting against the measure tonight, McMenamin later said that he was fully in favor of the project, but not how the council had moved the issue forward.

You can watch the final discussion in the player above, or the developer’s initial presentation in the player below.

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Live

LIVE | Springfield City Council Meeting, March 19th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting for March 19th, 2019. The council will be voting on a proposal to provide $7,650,000 in TIF funding for a new hotel project on Washington St. The $56 million project would create an extended stay hotel. The hotel would also have luxury apartments and other commercial applications. Parking was the primary concern voiced at the last meeting. Construction is expected to create 400 to 600 new jobs, including a youth apprenticeship program.

The meeting was adjourned for executive session. The start of the meeting is below, the TIF discussion is in the top player.

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