Geoff Ladd of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation had paid a visit
to the city on October 26, asking for $4,755.71 in addition to
the$12,000 the city awarded earlier this year in March.
At the March visit, Ladd had explained that before the Mill could
open as a Museum for Route 66, it had to have an ADA approved entry
way and a public restroom. To accomplish this, Matthews Construction
would be hired to build onto the back of the existing building. The
cost to cover this expense would come, hopefully, in part from a
grant from the National Park Service. A local match would be
required, and Ladd was asking the city to provide that local match
with funding from the Hotel/Motel Tax.
At the time of the original request, the city was preparing the
budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Aldermen agreed to provide the
funding, pending the award of the grant from the National Park
Service. At the conclusion of the budget building process, the city
also decided that the Logan County Tourism Bureau would be awarded
85 percent of the Hotel/Motel Tax collected. The other 15 percent
would remain in the city coffers. With the 15 percent, the city
would award the request from Ladd, and also have cash that would
kick-start the Third Fridays Downtown events to be held during the
In August, Ladd returned to the council stating that the Park
Service Grant had been awarded, and the foundation was preparing to
move forward with the construction project. He noted that the hopes
were that the project would be completed before the end of the year,
but he noted that the Park Service had delayed awarding the grants,
which had thrown off the construction schedule the Mill had
originally outlined to the council.
On October 26th, Ladd returned once again, saying that there had
been some new developments in the construction plans that were going
to cost additional dollars. He said the original plan to put in one
“family” restroom had been rejected, and there was now a
requirement, by-law, that was forcing the Mill to construct two
restrooms. The official plans were now drawn up for the addition,
and the extra cost for the second restroom was going to come to
$5,755.51. He said Brad Matthews who has always been a great
supporter of the Mill project had generously donated $1,000 in
labor, but the Mill still needed the $4,775.51. He asked the city to
make up that amount, again taking it from the Hotel/Motel Tax.
During the discussion on the matter, Todd Mourning asked why this was
coming to light now, and why it had not been part of the original
Ladd explained that the original request for cash was based on an
estimate and that the official design for the addition had not been
done at that time. In addition, because the Mill is a historical
landmark, the plans had to be approved by the Illinois Historic
Preservation Agency. He said that at first, he and the foundation
board had thought that one family restroom would be sufficient, but
it wasn’t. He said that was also due in part to recent changes in
the law based on equal rights for transgender patrons.
Mourning asked why the official design had not been drawn up before
the grant application. Ladd said that having the design work done
was going to be costly, and the foundation didn’t have the dollars
to spend on a design when they were still taking the chance that the
grant would not be awarded.
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Michelle Bauer said she was very much in favor of getting the Mill finished, and
the city helping the foundation in reaching that goal. However, her main concern
at this time was the impact it would have on the Logan County Tourism Bureau.
She wondered if the Bureau could afford to lose the nearly $5,000 from its
budget midway through its year.
City Administrator Clay Johnson said the additional funding could be awarded to
the Mill with no impact on the Bureau. He reminded the council that the city
voted to retain 15 percent of the tax revenue collected. He said that he didn’t
know the exact number, but he thought there was somewhere in the vicinity of
$40,000 to $45,000 in the city’s Hotel/Motel Tax revenue line. City Treasurer
Chuck Conzo agreed that there was more than enough to give the additional
funding to the Mill without impacting the Tourism Bureau. Bauer responded in
that case, she was all for moving forward and granting the request.
This past Monday, when the item came up on the agenda, Jonie Tibbs made the
motion to approve with the second coming from Hoefle. Hoefle, during the
discussion period, reminded everyone that this was Hotel/Motel Tax dollars and
would not have an impact on Lincoln constituents or the city’s general budget.
The motion then passed unanimously.
Later in the evening, Rick Hoefle thanked Ladd and
Foundation Chairman Bob Wilmert for their diligence in keeping the Mill project
Ladd, in turn, thanked the city for their tremendous support. He added that he
was also excited about the new signage that would be going up in the downtown
area, designating the alternate Route 66 Byway. He noted that Route 66 will
celebrate its 90th year on Friday, November 11th, and said the city could expect
to see a celebratory press release from the Route 66 Scenic Byways on Friday.
The Mill restoration project has been in progress for the past several years.
The Heritage Foundation has worked continually with limited funding to bring the
once popular eatery back to life as a museum. Ladd in March announced that the
work is nearly completed, and he anticipates that the museum will open in the
spring of 2017. A large celebration will be planned at that time.