Wednesday, Feb. 11

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City looks ahead at economic development and improvements   Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 11, 2004]  New Economic Development Partnership Director Rob Orr stopped in on the city work session on Tuesday evening to introduce himself to the full council.

Orr stepped into the director position on Feb. 1, right on the heels of the past director, Jeff Mayfield. Orr said he appreciated being able to do this and that he could pick right up on all the business projects that are in process.

Mayfield filled the position on a part-time basis for one year following a seven-month gap after Mark Smith left. Orr said, "I assure you after just seven days, this is a lot more than a part-time job."

Orr shared some of his vision for creating economic prosperity for Lincoln and Logan County. First, he would like to have an agreed-upon permanent structure. He believes the new Economic Development Partnership, which the task force developed, is a good one to adopt.

At the core of the structure is the independent not-for-profit foundation. It is fortunate that Mark Smith foresaw the direction that economic development might take in the future and set the foundation up. It sat idle for two years but was there and ready to be put to use now.

As an independent organization it is no longer part of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce.

As a 501c3, the partnership can accept private tax-deductible donations. This will be a great opportunity that the group will try to take advantage of that was not available under the former structure.

The new partnership structure also calls for a director. Orr thinks that whether it is he or someone else in the future, the director needs to be an established part of the partnership.

The partnership board is formed by two representatives from each of the major contributors -- city, county and chamber -- as well as representatives from the utilities. Mayor Beth Davis and Alderman Steve Fuhrer represent Lincoln.

Orr said that it is a benefit too if each of the funding parties would contribute their portion of financing in one lump sum, up-front, annually.

As soon as the partnership begins meeting, "We'll form task forces and committees," Orr said. "I believe in a whole team approach." At their first meeting, on Feb. 23, the focus will be on review and amending the by-laws, he said.

[See previous LDN articles: "Smooth transition for EDC," with new and old organization flow charts and the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee position statement; and "New economic development partnership director announced"]

 

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After Orr spoke, the council moved on to other business.

A concern for safety and building preservation in one of the fire department's truck bays was raised a couple of weeks ago. It was reported that the floor was developing stress cracks and a wall was crumbling. It is not a bay with basement below it, but a newer, heavier truck is being parked there and it was unknown just what lay beneath the flooring.

An inspection by an engineer from Randolph and Associates, with City Engineer Mark Mathon and Fire Chief Bucky Washam in attendance, revealed worries to be less than first thought. There was a leak in the ceiling that has caused the wall crumbling.

It is believed that the truck weight caused the settlement of the floor and stress cracks. Water from washing the truck has been flowing into the cracks and substrate, contributing to the problem.

It was recommended to excavate, lay 6 inches of filler and 8 inches of concrete. The estimate for the engineering company to do this was $4,000 to $5,000.

Upon consultation with Streets Superintendent Tracy Jackson, the city will probably do the work themselves at a much lower cost.

A new drain will also help relieve the problem and can be added for about $1,500.

Alderman Steve Fuhrer announced that plans are under way to improve the intersection at Lincoln Parkway and Fifth Street in the spring. The traffic signals will be modernized, using video detection sensors like the ones installed at Kickapoo and Keokuk streets. The sensors help regulate the flow of traffic and initiate light changes when traffic is waiting from one direction but no traffic is present in the other direction.

There will also be a turn lane added on Fifth Street turning south onto Lincoln Parkway.

In another traffic signal project, ESCA Consulting of Urbana has been contacted about doing the traffic counts and submitting a needs study in coordination with IDOT at the Goody's plaza. The costs will be $4,900. This fee was included in the $155,000 estimate for the traffic signal.

Still ahead, downtown streets and walk access are still slated for an overlay this spring. Attention will be given to providing better access for disabled people.

[Jan Youngquist]

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