Help may be coming for the Hillsboro city pool, but the process won’t be simple––but it took a tentative first step Tuesday evening, Oct. 27, during a Zoomed city council meeting. Commissioner Michael Murphy was absent.
A firm which specializes in municipal pool restoration, and which has worked in Central Illinois before, most recently in Carlyle, had a long distance presentation. Public Properties Commissioner Dan Robbins introduced Roger Schamberger, who was speaking from Platteville, WI, the home of Burbach Aquatics. Hillsboro Parks Superintendent Jim May had traveled to Carlyle to first speak with the firm.
Schamberger outlined problems with the pool, which wasn’t open at all in 2020 because of COVID-19. It was built as a WPA project, so it’s over 80 years old and one of the few pools built then still in use in the country. His firm offered to do an eight-step Phase I, Step #1 assessment of the Hillsboro Pool for $2,350 plus travel costs. For that amount, the city receives a technical evaluation of the existing facility, including listing any significant health code issues and/or ADA noncompliance problems.
When the motion to accept the offer (made by Robbins and seconded by Donnie Downs) was open for discussion, Robbins said the pool is a public service which always loses money, but that meant its closure in 2020 meant money was left in the budget which would cover Phase I, #1. City attorney Kit Hantla questioned whether the promised lists of problems could be problematic if they aren’t fixed once they are known. A council member asked Scott Hunt of Hurst-Rosche if it was work they could do; he said they could, but his firm didn’t often engineer pools, which is the Burbach Aquatics specialty. The lengthy discussion resulted in a 3-0 vote to enter into the contract.
Another of Robbins’ motion involved Central Park and the building the late Merle McFarlin used to house a recreation/game room center.
The building needs renovations to be useful to the city; Robbins opened the discussion by asking if the council felt the project should begin after the next budget cycle begins, or if the city should proceed with steps in the process as time and budget allows “...to keep the project moving forward.”
May said that although the roof is not yet leaking, it does need replacement. Robbins and May estimated an expense of $3,500 this year; the total cost will be between $11,000 and $13,000. Acting mayor/finance commissioner Katie Duncan suggested the motion include a “not to exceed $3,500” clause to be added to the motion. It then was approved 3-0.
Also passed unanimously was a resolution approving an agreement between developer Brian Sullivan (who spoke to the council via Zoom while introducing partner Mark Hughes) and the city which gives the partnership access to Business District funds as the two develop four storefronts just south of the corner building once occupied by the Sears Store on Courthouse Square. The legal address is 102 S. Main Street.
The developer(s) will receive a one-time grant of $25,000 and then five annual grants of $5,000 each. All payments must come from the Business District Fund. The total cost for redeveloping the four storefronts (Developers portion and Business District Funds) is estimated at $190,000.
Sullivan anticipates replacing all flooring, wall coverings and ceilings; redoing electric, plumbing and HVAC services; remodeling interior spaces; repairing foundations tuckpointing exterior walls and building four ADA compliant bathrooms.
The council passed a resolution of support for a grant to be submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation. It is a Main Street-Landscape grant, which, if received, would enable the city to “...improve the walkability and accessibility of the sidewalks and ramps to current ADA standards, while enhancing the downtown with park benches, planters, stamped concrete and associated infrastructure with pavement rehabilitation with curb and gutters.” It’s the second time the grant has been sought; a required public hearing was held on Monday, Oct. 19, and reported in last Thursday’s Journal-News.
Also passed was an equipment lease agreement which allows citizens to use the city’s manlift, a 1998 JLG 600A Model. The council agreed to purchase a ADP unit heater from Hiller’s Heating and Cooling for $1,574. Also, often-discussed amendments to the city code regarding excavation bonds were approved. Anyone who obtains a permit must deposit a cash bond of $1,000.
If an existing sidewalk is removed, a $500 deposit precedes excavation. New concrete has to be poured over a 3 inch base of 1 inch clean rock or over a 2 1/2 or 3 inch base of compacted 1 inch of CA6, with each end pinned at least twice.
Sidewalk replacement must take place within 45 days.
Tabled until more information can be obtained was approval of a reverse Christmas parade to be presented by Imagine Hillsboro. The council thought “reverse parade” meant floats would be parked parallel to Main Street with vehicles driving by to appreciate them. The consensus was “neat idea,” but the council wanted specifics (date, time, and approval from the police chief) before approving the event. Hopefully an Imagine Hillsboro Christmas activities member can appear at the first November meeting.
The public proved they can comment electronically when Eric Bradley and John Gibb appeared via Zoom; both had been to council meetings in person concerning the same issue (buildings on private property built on top of sewer mains). Bradley had spoken to the council before about a garage he wants to build at his residence, but he feels the sewer should be moved first.
His first contention Tuesday was not having a spot on the agenda although he had been told he would be there. Attorney Hantla said he was denied the requested spot because he isn’t the owner of the property (208 West Summer) where he lives, so he had no “legal standing” to speak about the property.
Bradley said the property belongs to his mother-in-law, Linda Klotz, and he was in the process of obtaining it and she had given him permission to speak for her. Gibb said he did own his property and wanted the sewer out from under his property too––but he hadn’t asked to be on the agenda, assuming Bradley could speak for him.
Utility Commissioner Downs said he and Woodard & Curran representative Tim Ferguson had looked at the sites and had identified issues, but the city can’t do anything until the council acts. City Clerk Cory Davidson said he’d be at City Hall on Wednesday, (Oct. 28), if Bradley and Mrs. Klotz could appear to sign for a spot on the Nov. 10 agenda. Bradley said they would be there.
Preliminary reports were brief. Robbins said that besides the normal fall workload, the Parks Department had spread grass seed, erosion blankets and riprap on the stream bank near the Wood Street bridge to maintain repairs necessitated by an earlier 12” water main break. They also laid erosion blankets at the CTI lot at the East Wood and Welch streets intersection.
They cleared bush honeysuckle and began establishing a trail at Challacombe Park. The Illinois Dept. of Public Health inspected the campground and renewed its permit for 2021.
The Street Department installed a new meter pit and meter at a residence on South Main in conjunction with the Water Department. An older house has a new owner and renovations are underway. Dumpsters were also ordered for next week’s fall cleanup, which is advertised in The Journal-News. Leaves in street gutters and on grates keep drawing attention.
Downs reminded the public of how well-known and well-respected the local fire department is. He thanked all of them and the other local fire departments and area farmers for the stellar work they did with the recent field fires with a “Grateful hats off to all who were involved.”
Hunt said progress has been made on the Huber Drive project. Community planner Jonathan Weyer thanked Nancy Slepicka for her work on the graphic layout of the Strategic Planning report which will be presented to the council on Nov. 10. He anticipated announcement of another business coming to Hillsboro––that announcement is planned for Nov. 11.
The council next meets on Tuesday, Nov. 10. It will be open to the public only if pandemic conditions allow; either public or not public, it begins at 7 p.m.