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Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Springfield YMCA’s upgrade took a step forward at tonight’s city council meeting. $5.9 million in TIF funding was approved for the new facility planned for Enos Park. TIF money will be drawn from both the Enos Park and Downtown TIF funds. This money is only a small portion of the nearly $35 million project. Representatives from the YMCA said that the project could not go forward without the TIF support from the city.

Although the aldermen stated their support for the upgrade, the use of TIF money raised some issues. Because the YMCA is a nonprofit, it will not directly provide any “increment” to the tax base. Even those who otherwise support nonprofits often consider it inappropriate to use TIF money in this way. However, aldermen pointed out that in addition to the $35 million construction project the YMCA is providing, the project should do other things to generate new growth. Hopefully, the new structure will foster development to itself, and better connect the medical districts with downtown.

The real benefit of TIF projects was also touched on in the discussion. Both Alderwoman Dicenso and Alderman McMenamin mentioned the Hy-Vee TIF project. While they both said that Hy-Vee itself was a boon to McArthur Boulevard, Dicenso had a less favorable characterization of how much additional activity that TIF generated.

The TIF funding for the YMCA was approved unanimously.

Rezoning Melrose St.

An old bar location may be getting a second life in Ward 2. 1510 Melrose St. was approved for rezoning to potentially allow a tavern to be opened in the old Sandtrap Bar location. Although the new owners are seeking a tavern license, their stated goal is to be more of a convince store with video gambling. Aldermen Senor supported the new endeavor. He said that if the council continued to vote down rezoning for businesses, it would be increasingly difficult to say Springfield is business friendly.

But several neighbors of the property were opposed to the project. Citing a lack of parking and increased noise, they felt the store would not be a good addition to their neighborhood. Opponents pointed out how close the location is to residential areas, and how many children live in the area. The location also has a bad reputation. Even the new owners admitted that there had been serious problem in the past. However, they said that the hyper focus they would be under would ensure they were a good neighbor.

The rezoning was approved 8-1-1, with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present. This only changed the zoning of the location. They will still need to get a liquor and gaming license to actually operate the proposed business.

You can watch the full meeting in the player. The zoning hearing starts around the 15 minute mark, the YMCA TIF starts around the 70 minute mark.

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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.

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