Wednesday, July 07, 2010
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City briefs: filming downtown, bids accepted, increase in ordinance violation fees and more

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[July 07, 2010]  Due to a Monday holiday for city officials, the voting session of the Lincoln City Council was held on Tuesday. Seven of the 10 aldermen were present for the meeting, with Aldermen David Armbrust, Buzz Busby and David Wilmert being absent for the evening.

The meeting, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, included a vote on street closures for a film production by Phenom Features, awarding of bids for street projects, and approval of changes to the fines attached to zoning and safety ordinance violations.

Phenom gets approval for street, alley and parking lot closures

Tom Quinn of Phenom Features took the podium at the beginning of the meeting to discuss his request for use of a city alley behind Vintage Fare, between Broadway and Pulaski streets.

He began by giving the council some insight as to who he is and what he does.

Quinn said that he and his wife, Kimberly, are residents of Lincoln. Kimberly is with Lincoln Community High School, teaching choir, and Tom is an instructor at Illinois Wesleyan University in Normal, teaching acting.

Quinn said that when he began his career with the university, the program did not include any kind of instruction on acting or production of film works. He worked to get such a program and succeeded.

Phenom Features is a not-for-profit production company that came out of those efforts.

This summer the company is filming a screenplay written by Quinn, entitled "Using." The filming will take place in Bloomington and Lincoln, even though the setting in the movie will be depicted as Chicago.

Quinn explained that being a not-for-profit, the production company needs to do its work as inexpensively as possible, and doing the actual filming in Chicago would have been cost-prohibitive.

He also noted that because he is a Lincoln resident, he had a desire to add a Lincoln component to the film.

The actual filming in Lincoln is set to take place on July 17 and 18, a Saturday and Sunday. The group will converge on the city around 2 each afternoon and will do the daylight filming in the Integrity Data building.

Each of the two evenings, the film crew will move to the alley and do the nighttime filming.

Quinn explained that the greatest trial in location filming is noise from outside sources and space for the trucks, equipment and cast.

He asked that the city approve closing the east side of Kickapoo between Pekin and Broadway each afternoon. He also would like to have the west half of the alley behind Integrity Data closed, along with the public parking area between the alley and Pekin Street.

He added that the east end of the alley could remain open for the library.

For the night filming, Vintage Fare has offered to let the film crew use its building for staging, which includes wardrobe and makeup as well as a place for the crew to have a meal.

As darkness arrives, the filming will move to the alley. Quinn is asking that during that time the parking on the north side of Pulaski in front of Vintage Fare also be blocked off for the filming.

Quinn said he would personally visit all the businesses along those streets and let them know what was going on and when. He told the council that he didn't want to disrupt their businesses any more than necessary and certainly didn't want them to close their doors because of the filming, but he would appreciate their cooperation in keeping noise levels down.

He added that it might actually be good for area businesses. As word gets out, folks will probably come to the downtown area to get a glimpse of what is going on.

During discussion Alderman Tom O'Donohue said that he felt like it was Quinn's responsibility to talk to business owners, and Alderwoman Melody Anderson added that he should also talk to those along Broadway, as many of their customers use that public parking area.

Mayor Keith Snyder noted that the alley behind Integrity Data is currently one-way with the exit being on the west end. He said that if the temporary closure is approved, the city would need to reverse the one-way to exit out the east end on those two days.

Quinn wrapped up his presentation by saying that the production company would make every effort to make the filming experience a positive one for Lincoln.

He noted that he is concerned about safety for his crew and the public and believes that these street closures will help assure that everyone is safe. He also said that while he doesn't expect problems during the filming, he would appreciate a police presence in the area, during the night shots especially.

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"Using" is a feature-length film with a mature theme, not intended for children. Quinn said the movie deals with a young woman who has repeatedly dealt with drug addiction.

She has continually been in and out of rehab, and the movie begins as she relapses into drug use for the fourth time.

This excerpt copied from offers a brief synopsis of the film:

"USING" is a feature-length drama about loving deception and a father's desperate fight to save his only daughter from self-destruction.

22-year-old Gwen McNeil is the out-of-control daughter of real estate magnate Edward "Eddy" McNeil. Gwen's father devises an elaborate and deceitful scheme to rescue her from the streets of Chicago, but if his plot is uncovered it could cost him his daughter.

"USING" is a cautionary tale of addiction, betrayal and unlikely redemption, which asks the impossible question, "How far would you go to save a dying child?"

By unanimous vote, the council approved the street and parking closures for the two afternoons and evenings as requested.

Bids awarded for street projects

A bid was awarded to Illinois Valley Paving in the amount of $555,383.83 for an overlay project for the Omaha Avenue area.

During discussion and at the mayor's urging, city engineer Mark Mathon explained that on the Omaha overlay project, the bid from Illinois Valley was the only one received and it came in much higher than had originally been expected.


He said that in spite of this, he didn't feel that it would do any good to rebid the project.

Mathon was asked by O'Donohue what the consequences of this higher cost would be, and Mathon responded that there may be other projects that will have to be postponed until the next fiscal year.

O'Donohue then asked, "Is this where the money needs to be put?"

Alderman Jeff Hoinacki said that this project has been on the waiting list for multiple years now and that each year during the budget building process he hears from constituents in the Omaha Avenue area asking if this will be the year they get their streets fixed.

Alderwoman Marty Neitzel also noted that there is not much of a chance that the cost is going to decrease in the future, and as a matter of fact, if they delay this project, the costs may go up.

In the end the council voted unanimously to accept the bid, assuring Omaha Avenue residents that this is the year their streets will be fixed.

The following bid awards were also approved by unanimous vote:

  • For bituminous materials for seal coat, the award went to Louis Marsch Inc. at a cost of $119,507.

  • For bituminous patch material, the award went to P.H. Broughton in the amount of $17,830.

Ordinance violators will feel the "bite"

By unanimous vote a change in the fines that are charged for city code and ordinance violators was approved.

The changes in the fine structure will be applied to ordinances related to the building and safety office and hopefully will help deter violators.

Fines for ordinance violations will begin with a minimum of $75 and can go as high as $500. In addition, the new rules will allow that for repeat offenders within a 12-month period, the minimum fine will more than double to $175.

Finance committee to meet next week

Prior to the adjournment of the council meeting, Alderwoman Melody Anderson said that she wanted to hold a meeting of the Finance and Policies and Procedures Committee next Tuesday night at 6:30. She said the purpose of the meeting would be to discuss early retirement options.

Immediately following this announcement, the meeting adjourned.


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