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Jacksonville City Council discusses major investments and ordinances

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Jacksonville City Council had a full slate of issues to discuss at its last meeting, many of which dealt with potential investments for the city. The smallest was a proposal to add vending machines to the Community Park soccer fields. For the proposal to work, the city would need to invest $500 to run electricity to the machines, in exchange for six percent (6%) of the gross revenues.

Jacksonville Main Street also asked the city for sponsorship of the Downtown concert series. The request was for $5,000. Jacksonville Main Street created a new sponsorship tier to accommodate the level of sponsorship the city has provided in the past. The series will be held on Fridays in June and July later this year.

These proposals were small change compared with the Revolving Loans Fund application. The request was for $250,000 to assist with the purchase and renovation of the Northridge Golf Course. This request caused a great deal of discussion, and was not resolved during the meeting. The main justification for considering the proposal was to protect the property values (and property tax revenue) from the neighborhoods around the course. If the course was allowed to become overgrown, or was turned into farmland, residents fear their property values would take a serious blow.

However, the proposal had a number of risks as well. The sheer size of the proposal was an issue, as the Revolving Loans Fund does not have $250,000 to give. Although the fund is loaned out on a largely “first come, first served” basis, there were concerns about totally depleting the fund for one project. Secondly, the loan request was for 30 years at 0.5% interest. Such a long term and low interest rate was also worrisome from an investment perspective. Most of all, the project would make the city a part owner in yet another golf course. As we have previously reported, the city’s existing golf courses already lose a considerable amount of money. Some wondered about the logic of adding more competition to those courses.

The council was not fully decided on what course of action should be taken regarding this proposal, but the prevailing opinion was to invest $125,000 and go from there.

Other city business

Last meeting, the council discussed the city’s firework ordinance for shows at the speedway. After some investigation, it was discovered that current ordinance is much more restrictive regarding firework sales within the city than had previously been realized or enforced. The merchants who were selling commercial fireworks were not properly licensed and had been selling higher grade fireworks to unlicensed individuals than they ought. Resolving this issue required amending the city’s pyrotechnics ordinance. Given the near impossibility of enforcement, it is likely the change will be to simply ban the sale of certain kinds of fireworks within city limits.

Mayor Ezard also notified the council that Lynn Craig had been let go by CMS. Craig had been responsible for maintaining the facilities at the Jacksonville Developmental Center (JDC), including keeping the buildings free of water. Now there will be no one maintaining those buildings. Ezard warned that these buildings do no have “a year or two” for the state to hire a new vendor if the JDC is going to be salvaged for future use. He and the city are pushing to get the position restored as quickly as possible.

Alderman Warmowski presented plans make driving a golf cart while intoxicated a punishable offense for the Lake Jacksonville trails. It may seem obvious, but there are no rules specifically prohibiting DUIs on golf carts in that area. The rules will take effect when those trails are completed.

You can watch the full meetings 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

Staff Contributor

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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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