The Hillsboro City Council, with all four members present either via Zoom or in person, approved three facade grants and one request for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24. The Historical Preservation Committee evaluated the facade requests before passing them on to the council. According to program rules, each request is eligible to receive a maximum of $2,000 or 50% of the amount shown on receipts for materials and labor after the project is completed, whichever amount is less. The amount is agreed upon before the projects begin and paid when receipts are presented.
Tony Marcolini, who continues improvement on his Opera House brewery company at the corner of South Main and East Wood Street, had estimates of $3,450 for his latest improvement, so he was granted $1,725. Tim Shelden presented estimates for work to be done at 213 South Main Street (once the site of Gianni’s Italian Market), so he is eligible for $645. Brian Limbaugh expects to spend $905 for signage at 114 School Street (the State Farm Insurance office), so he can receive $402.
The TIF grant goes to Tom Compagni for work on the parking lot and the building of a stone wall at Paris Frozen Foods, 305 Springfield Road (on the north side of Rt. 16 as one travels to Litchfield). TIF reimbursements do not have the 50% limitation nor are they limited to facade work; Compagni spent $6,641.77 with one contractor and $9,895 for stone work and landscaping with another. He will recoup $15,000 of the amount he spent.
In other financial action the council obligated $23,000 from the Motor Fuel Tax account as the city’s share of work done on traffic signal and American Disabilities Aid (ADA) work at intersections from Water Street to Fairgrounds. The joint agreement was with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Also approved were two checks for the Housing Urban Development (HUD) project underway in the Hillsboro Area Hospital area of the town. One was for $14,900, the other for $18,500; both were for improvements to two houses on Anna Street. Another agenda item brought formal approval of Imagine Hillsboro’s Festival Committee plans for their reverse Christmas Parade to be held Saturday, Dec. 5.
The last agenda item came from Public Property and Parks Commissioner Daniel Robbins who asked his fellow council members to read the e-mails he and department superintendent Jim May sent to them regarding potential lake lot lease changes. If anything on the changes seems remiss, they are to e-mail their concerns to May.
Time-wise, the earlier part of the evening was spent listening and responding to Eric Bradley, who had been denied a place on the agenda to discuss the sanitary and storm sewer problems he has encountered, so he zoomed in during the public comment section. Bradley had used the public comment spot, only in person, in early July to explain he wanted to build a garage on property on West Summer Street but found a sewer main under the land on which he wanted to build. Later investigations found not only the waste water main but the storm water main were in the same location, for which the city has no easement.
According to Bradley, who admitted the problem is complex and the solution most likely expensive, the city had made no progress towards a solution for him and his neighbors. During his last appearance, the council and he agreed to meet on a Friday morning, but that meeting was cancelled. He said he and the residents of West Summer need the city to develop a plan of action so he can also develop a plan, but he’s losing patience.
He referred to Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy, who on more than one occasion has requested citizens with complaints to voice them at the meeting rather than blasting the city on social media; he feels he has followed the required steps of the process only to be stone-walled. Bradley wants movement on the matter.
Finance Commissioner/Temporary Mayor Katie Duncan said she had been the one to deny Bradley a spot on the agenda because the council planned to discuss the matter in a closed session that evening (Nov. 24). (A closed session to discuss “possible litigation” was on the agenda and was held.)
Utilities Commissioner Don Downs said the city has been looking for a money source, a grant or loan, to help with what could balloon into a big expense if other residents discover the same problem and demand remedy, but the search has hit only dead ends. Other towns have also been contacted to see if 1) they have had the same dilemma (buildings built over utility mains after the mains were in place with no easements recorded) and 2) how they solved the problem, but that search too had dead-ended.
The closed session was held, but no public accounting of who said what in the session was revealed when it was over. The meeting then adjourned at 8:52 p.m.
As usual, the meeting began with Commissioner reports, and Robbins began with his department’s activities. Plumbing has been winterized and buildings secured at the North and South Marinas, at the campground, at Central Park, at the Veterans’ Memorial, and at the Sports Complex. Lake lot changes had been proposed and finalized by Natural Resource Committee members Carl Reynolds and Kendra Wright and May. May also met with CTI representatives concerning expansion of free wifi and wifi supported cameras to be placed at the Challacombe House, Central Park, and the planned trail system.
The Lake Patrol boat was winterized and stored; bad boards on the Old Lake dock were replaced; and the city’s JLG man lift was repaired by Steve Barnes and is now back in service. Also, the pool was pumped out and inspected by Burbach Aquatics. The city awaits their report.
The Street Department installed new street signs and a post at the intersection of Mechanic and Columbia. They ran the leaf vacuum and continued to pick up paper bags of leaves and piles of brush left on boulevards. They also repaired erosion under Meisenheimer Bridge (by the North Marina) and finished backfilling the new sidewalks on Oak Street.
Murphy discussed again how important the role of each citizen is in keeping the town clean and presentable. “Every citizen has to participate to attract new business,” he proclaimed while discouraging actions like those of the dog walker who allowed his charge to defecate on a downtown sidewalk before walking away. That individual was caught on camera and received a call from the police.
He again mentioned the upcoming retirement of police officer/code enforcement man Gary Satterlee. He implied Mike Lee, a long-time auxiliary policeman and volunteer firefighter, could become the new code enforcer, perhaps for three days a week.
The Public Safety Commissioner also passed along a request from his mother, who also told Ms. Duncan that the Christmas lights now adorning the roof lines of the downtown buildings should remain in place and lit into January.
Duncan, in her role as temporary mayor, said the city had received two inquires about the water clerk position. The ad for that job will run one more time (by law), and then any and all applications will be reviewed.
Downs’ report was uncharacteristically short. Older water meters are still being replaced with newer, more accurate models, and curb stops (shutoff valves for the water supply to houses) are being mapped as they are located.
City Planner Jonathan Weyer reported that after the launch of the new marketing website and publication of the strategic plan, he’s been receiving inquires about the town from “all over.” Two companies are coming to town for a visit next week, and talks with a contractor about repairing the Corner Block Building’s roof have begun.
The council next meets on Tuesday, Dec. 8, for what most likely will be its only December meeting. It begins at 7 p.m. in city hall; watch the Journal-News for directions to attend by Zoom.