Street projects spur strong debate
In recent weeks, street
and alley superintendent Tracy Jackson has asked that the council
offer input as to what the next major street improvement projects
At the meeting this week, Alderman Buzz Busby said that there
will be a map in zoning officer Les Last's office with figures
showing how much traffic is going down each street. He feels that
priority for major road projects should be given to the streets with
the most traffic.
Alderman Verl Prather disagrees. "I don't think traffic count
makes a difference on how much tax you pay to the city, and a lot of
these areas don't even have curbs and they are just like an alley,"
he said. "So I would reject something like that."
Prather went on to speculate that there should be a million
dollars in the fund for these projects. Busby said the balance is
about $1.5 million in the fund for major road projects.
Prather said that should equate to $300,000 per ward for
improvements, but Busby reminded the council that for the Elm Street
project, the cost was $200,000 per block. "Three hundred cars a day
go down that street," he added. "Twelve thousand go down Broadway."
Busby said that Broadway is in bad shape on the east end.
Alderwoman Joni Tibbs said: "Our job is not an easy job, and we
try to take care of our constituents. We go out into our wards and
we look at traffic counts, and we look at this and that, and I have
to tell you, there are some roads out in my ward that are really
suffering that are probably not high traffic counts. But they've
been suffering for many years." She added that she did submit a list
of suggestions to Jackson that included work on Broadway, Pulaski
and also some of the lesser streets in her ward.
Prather said that in his ward there are streets that are
terrible, with no curbs and little distinction between the street
and the homeowner's lawn. "I say we take sections out of each ward
and work on them and go from there," he said. "I don't know how to
tell my people over there -- that you can't tell the street, where
it ends and begins in their yard -- that they are not important
enough to get their stuff done."
Addressing Alderwoman Kathy Horn he added, "You know what I'm
talking about; you get the same calls." She agreed.
There was agreement that it was good that Jackson had asked for
the council's input.
Mayor Beth Davis-Kavelman suggested that the council take a look
at the traffic count maps and leave this for further discussion at a
Police chief asks for restructuring of officers' positions
The police department's officer structure is set by city code.
Currently, it calls for eight sergeant positions, and within that
number are two sergeant detectives. Below the rank of sergeant are
Police Chief Stuart Erlenbush is asking the council to change the
structure to five sergeants and five corporals. There would still be
two detective positions, but they would be chosen from any rank and
maintain their rank.
The chief explained that the department is too top-heavy, and
this structure would change that. On the recommended detective
change he said, "There's no correlation between what makes a good
supervisor and what makes a good detective."
The amended ordinance has been placed on next week's voting
Council to vote on rezoning vacant Kroger-CVS property
Annie Walters of Lincoln Illinois RX was present at the meeting
to answer any questions regarding the request the company is making
for a rezoning where the old Kroger and CVS buildings are located at
530-534 Woodlawn Road.
Portions of the property are currently zoned C-1 and other parts
are C-2. The request is to make the entire property C-2. According
to city attorney Bill Bates C-1 is a commercial zone, and C-2 is a
"heavier commercial, but not industrial" zone. Bates said that
Lincoln Illinois RX feels the building will be more marketable with
the heavier commercial rating.
Bates added that the planning commission met on Feb. 19 and heard
the request from Lincoln Illinois RX. The commission voted
unanimously to recommend to the council that they approve the
request for a change in the zoning of the property.
Items concerning city clerk's office will be placed on agenda
Alderwoman Melody Anderson wants the council to extend the
contract with Laura Wernsing of WTI. WTI is the software company
that provides record-keeping software for the city.
Anderson said that the city has an annual contract with the
company, but since Melanie Riggs' departure from the clerk's office,
Wernsing has spent a lot of time in town helping the acting city
clerk, Susan Gehlbach, with the system, and this has used up the
hours of the original contract.
Anderson and Gehlbach both said that Wernsing's help has been
invaluable to the clerk's office the past few weeks and will
continue to be needed, particularly to prepare for the budget
process, which begins in March.
The software company charges $150 per hour for their services. It
was estimated that up to 80 hours would be needed. Discussion from
the council indicated that they would approve the additional
services at a dollar amount not to exceed $12,000.
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Also on the agenda will be the vote to make Gehlbach's temporary
position as city clerk official, which would include an adjustment
in pay retroactive to Feb. 9, when Melanie Riggs resigned.
Finally, Anderson said that she will be working to rewrite
portions of the policy and procedures manual for the clerk's office
and will offer revisions to the council at a later date.
Habitat to name street
Alderman David Armbrust reminded the council that Tonita
Reifsteck of the local Habitat for Humanity had some time ago
approached the city for approval to place an honoree street sign at
the corner of Tremont and Hamilton.
He said the corner was chosen because there are three Habitat
houses in the area. The city had approved the request, and now
Habitat has decided on the name of the street corner. It will be
called "Habitat Dahmm Corner" in honor of George Dahmm, who Armbrust
said has been an integral part of that organization here in Lincoln.
Representative from McCarty's at the Depot invited to meet with
A representative of McCarty's at the Depot has had several
conversations over the last six months with various officials
concerning the Amtrak station that is currently located on that
The owner would like to sell the entire restaurant property to
the city of Lincoln. While the council agreed that such a purchase
was not something they were interested in, they are concerned about
the future of the Amtrak station. Maintaining a passenger waiting
area to keep Amtrak stopping in the city is of significant interest.
The council asked the mayor to contact the representative from
McCarty's, as well as invite representatives of Amtrak and the
Department of Transportation to appear before the council, so that
the issues may be discussed in the proper forum.
Sign ordinance lumbering along
Prior to the regular council meeting, the ordinance committee met
to continue discussion of a new ordinance on signs. Besides the
members of the committee, all council members except Buzz Busby were
The outmoded ordinance review has struggled along for about nine
months. To aid in its progress, ordinance chairman Wanda Lee Rohlfs
has sought examples of what other communities have adopted.
Aldermen were put to the test to interpret the language and
organization with the proposed changes. City attorney Bill Bates and
the city's building and code officer, Les Last, assisted the
Areas discussed included sign heights, both on buildings or if
free-standing; architectural signs, shopping center signs, other
community signs; sign sizes; distances from alleys and streets; and
many more details. Bates said that the regulations would need to
separate commercial and industrial. He reminded the council that the
ordinance also needs to include that signs cannot distract from
traffic signals or in some way create a hazard. "That's what started
this -- a sign over on Keokuk Street," he said.
Alderman Dave Armbrust agreed and wondered about regulating the
use of colors. The red and blue flashing of the sign in question has
distracted drivers because it resembles emergency vehicles.
Illinois EPA will offer a "Webinar"
Wastewater treatment manager David Kitzmiller told the council
that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency would offer a
webinar on Feb. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m., focusing on economic recovery
According to the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009,
the state of Illinois will be receiving $180 million for wastewater
projects and $80 million for potable or drinking water projects.
These funds are allocated into a revolving loan program that will be
administered through the EPA. These will be loans with little to no
interest charged to the borrower.
Kitzmiller invited the council to participate in the webinar. The
Web address is
http://www.epa.state.il.us/, and the webinar instructions can be
found under the "Financial Assistance" tab by clicking on the title
"American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009." There are special
requirements for the computer and a preregistration involved in
order to listen in.
And the winner is...
Sealed bids for the city's old fire truck were opened. The higher
of the two bids that were received came from Integrity Holdings of
Lincoln in the amount of $4,500. This was $700 higher than the other
bid that was received.
[By NILA SMITH, with contributions