Monday, March 03, 2014
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City updates ongoing projects:

Fifth Street Road, city street projects and the APEX

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[March 03, 2014]  Last Tuesday evening, the Lincoln City Council committee of the whole started off with Mayor Keith Snyder discussing some of the city's long-term projects.

The first project for discussion was Fifth Street Road. This project has been in the works for several years. It is slated to be a road improvement project for the city and the county, with the work to be done by the city from the intersection of Lincoln Parkway to the Interstate 55 viaduct. From the viaduct to the Middletown/New Holland blacktop, the work is to be done by the county.

Snyder said Bill Thomas, the interim executive director of the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership, has asked for a meeting with Snyder and Darren Forgy of Prairie Engineers to receive an update on the project.

Snyder said the city has purchased the French property, which will be needed for drainage from Fifth Street. He said there are other properties that need to be purchased as well.

The city has cash on hand from the Illinois capital improvements plan, and Forgy is working to get authorization from the state to use those funds for these purchases.

Forgy is currently working to get funding for the project through the Illinois ERB program, which Snyder defined as a mini  capital projects plan for additional land purchases for rights of way and utility relocations. In addition, other money will be sought through the Illinois Jobs Now program.

Snyder said that Brian Bergin, former director of the development partnership, had started the ball rolling on a federal grant application through Logan County's membership with the Peoria CEDS program.

Snyder reminded the council that Fifth Street Road is in the long-term capital improvements plan for the city of Lincoln that was created by Forgy last year. In that plan, the city is short approximately $2 million.

Snyder said the plan right now is to gather the funding needed through the various sources and have the project ready to let out for bid by 2016.

Snyder also mentioned an Economic Development Program grant through the state that could be made available for the project, based on the probable expansion of existing businesses along Fifth Street. That money would be based upon businesses growing and adding employees. Snyder said he wasn't at liberty to say who, but there are a couple of businesses that would like to expand.

In a related matter, city administrator Sue McLaughlin said she had passed out maps and lists of street work to be done this coming season. The city will do projects that include heat scarification and resurfacing, pulverization and resurfacing, and brick street repair. McLaughlin didn't name any specific streets in her discussion with the aldermen. She did say that the Pulaski Street project will resume as soon as possible and will be finished this year. She also noted that on the brick street repairs, work will be done according to the harvest of brick from Pulaski Street.

Later in the meeting, Snyder also talked to the council about the possibility of new money coming in for the APEX @ City Center.

The APEX was designed by a focus group, with the plans officially completed in 2012. It is on Eighth Street, on the property that was formerly the site of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. The land was given to the city by the hospital after it moved to its new location.

The APEX, which has been dubbed as on outdoor fitness area instead of a park, includes some very intricate design details, with walking spaces, outdoor exercise areas, a mound for climbing, a water splash area for youngsters and an amphitheater for outdoor entertainment.

The cost of the total project is expected to exceed $2 million. At its inception the city said they would not finance the building of the APEX from their general funds simply because there was no room in the budget for that type of expense. If the APEX is to be built, it will have to come from grants and other sources.

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Tuesday night Snyder said that Forgy is preparing a grant application called a PARC grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He said the grant is a 25 percent local match. He said Forgy is proposing the city do an application for $515,000. Of that, the grant would provide $386,500 and the city would provide the balance.

Currently, the city has $40,000 for the APEX that is money generated from the sale of the parking lot area across the street from the APEX. Snyder said there is a private group that wants to raise the balance needed for the match: about $88,000.

However, for Forgy and Prairie Engineers to go forward with the grant application, they need a resolution from the city guaranteeing it will cover the match.

If the city would receive the award, construction would go forward on a portion of the APEX that includes a fitness area and the northwest corner play area. Snyder said the application is due in to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on March 10, so the city will need to vote on the resolution at the Monday night meeting if Prairie Engineers is to go forward.

During discussion, Michelle Bauer asked how they had decided on what to do, and she wondered if there were other parts of the park that could have been done instead. She said she felt like $88,000 was an awful lot of money to be asking the city to guarantee.

Melody Anderson commented that she wanted to see work done at the APEX, but if this group wants to raise the matching funds, they better be sure they raise it all. She noted it was never part of the deal for the city to throw money into the project.

Snyder expressed a certain amount of confidence in the group but added he couldn't say for sure they would be successful.

Marty Neitzel commented that the city has made the downtown area their top priority. She would hate to see it forced to put money into a project that was not downtown.

Anderson wondered, if the city wins the grant but the group doesn't get their part together, whether the city could back out on a portion of the grant  and spend only what they were able to provide in the match.

City administrator Sue McLaughlin said that might be possible. She told the council that it sometimes becomes a problem if the grant money isn't used and has to all be given back. Such actions can hinder the city from receiving future grants. But, perhaps giving back only a portion would be OK.

Snyder said he could discuss all this with Forgy and get back to the council with answers. In the meantime, he asked and received consent for the resolution for the matching funds be placed on the Monday agenda.



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