By Steve Robinson | September 17, 2018 - 10:50 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – At their regularly-scheduled session Monday night in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Normal Town Council members heard the Town has won an award for historic preservation, specifically for work done concerning Broadview Mansion. Specifically, the award was earned by the Town in the category of stewardship.

The Town received a 2018 Preservation Award from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation for efforts in preserving the Edwardian-style home built in 1906 which sits at the corner of Fell and Highland Avenues and is operated by the Immanuel Bible Foundation.

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz attended a function hosted by Landmarks Illinois in Chicago on Saturday to accept the award. Lorenz said the collaboration between the Town and Immanuel Bible Foundation needs to be credited with the success of preserving the building and for which the award was received.

Planned Unit Development, Rezoning On Lincoln College Property Approved: Council members unanimously approved a trio of resolutions related to the Lincoln College property at 715-755 W. Raab Rd. College officials are wanting to change how the nearly 9.2 acres are used. First, the College, which is in three buildings, sought to scale back to one academic building adjacent to Raab Rd. and to sell off portions of the remainder of the property.

Doing what the college wants accomplished would require rezoning the property and then create a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, so the properties could be divided into new lots and rezoned. Parts of the land will be rezoned from S-2 Public Land and Institutions to B-1 General Business.

Normal Planning Commission members held a public hearing on the proposed re-subdivision on Sept 6 where no members of the public addressed the issue and only Lincoln College representatives were in attendance. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 on the re-subdivision. That vote on the measure sent it on to Normal Town Council.

Council members first unanimously approved a resolution for the final plat for the fourth re-subdivision of the property. The second measure they approved unanimously related to the property was its rezoning

Finally, Council members unanimously passed a resolution conditionally approving a final development plan for the Lincoln Colleges residences, located at 717-731 W. Raab Rd., the area to be referred to now as Fairlawn Capital PUD. That PUD can now be zoned R-3A Medium Density Multi-Family Residence.

The PUD was needed to be established on this property, according to the memo prepared for Council members by Town Planner Mercy Davison, because Town Code limits the number of such buildings to one per lot unless a PUD is in place.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Sept. 4, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Sept.12, 2018.

• A resolution accepting base bid Alternatives 1, 3, and 4 and awarding a contract to Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. for replacement of roofing systems at the water treatment plant in the amount of $156,200 and an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution accepting base bid and Alternative 1 and awarding a contract to Chenoa-based Union Roofing Co., Inc. for the replacement of low slope roofing systems at the Community Activity Center in the amount of $67,390.

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Watseka, Ill.-based Freehill Asphalt, Inc. for the 2018 Towanda Ave. concrete pavement crack and joint sealing contract in the amount of $66,223.

• A resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a Small Government Enterprise License Agreement with Redlands, Calif.-based Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. for software licensing and related services for the Town’s Geographic Information System

By Steve Robinson | September 4, 2018 - 10:14 pm
Posted in Category: News, Normal Town Council

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members received a report on the Town’s annual status and an idea what the Town could be planning for financially in the future, as Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn presented the annual financial trend and condition report. The report was a mix of positive and negative indicators.

Since 2008, Huhn reported, home ownership has been fluctuating slightly but remained fairly stable. The average home price increased in 2017, something which hadn’t happened since 2010, he explained. In 2010, existing homes went for an average of $157,000 but that price rose to over $166,000 last year.

The Town’s transportation report in terms of usage of Amtrak and Central Illinois Regional Airport was mixed, as the report indicated Amtrak ridership at Uptown Station was up for the first time since 2013. The report indicates service disruptions caused by improvements made to the tracks in preparation for high speed rail led to people not wanting to use Amtrak as much during that period. Town staff indicated in the report they believe once high speed rail is fully functioning, ridership levels will again increase.

By contrast, Central Illinois Regional Airport saw what the report called a significant drop in 2017, with 381,109 people jetting out of and into town as opposed to 2016, with only 333,392 flying, a drop of 12.4 percent. The Town’s report pinpoints the cause of the decrease on reductions in “business travel activity.”

The report indicates the Town saw a .5 percent drop in unemployment in 2018 from last year, from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent. That was in line with similar figures for unemployment at the same time for Bloomington and Springfield. Peoria had the largest drop in unemployed of 0.9 percent. Overall, the State saw a 0.3 decrease in unemployment from last year to this year.

One of the only glaring negatives in the report for the Town centered on pensions for Normal’s Police Department and Fire Department retirees. The report indicated a slight increase in retirement funding level for NPD, which the report indicates hasn’t happened since 2014. NFD saw its first increase in funding a year later. The report said the Town remains cautious, adding many communities continue to wrestle with providing such funding.

Also on the downturn and of concern to Town officials is a 4.1 percent decrease in revenue from State income tax. But the 2018 figure fares better compared to the revenue being down 11.3 percent last year, according to the report.

Council Approves Annual Audit Report: Council members started the evening hearing a recap of a recent audit conducted by the Naperville-based Certified Public Accounting firm Lauterbach and Amen. Jamie Wilkey, a partner with that firm, told Council members the Town had what that firm considered “the highest level of preparedness” for the task. Council members unanimously approved a resolution to accept the final audit report by a 6-0 vote as Council Member Chemberly Cummings was not present for the session.

Prosser, Stebel Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Fritzen announced to the gathering that two new members have been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board – Theresa Prosser and Mitchell Stebel.

The director of medical surgical services at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Prosser is an adjunct faculty member at Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing and has been involved with and supports a number of numerous community groups. Those include Special Olympics, Relay For Life, Heart Walk, Community Health Clinic and United Way. She and her husband live in Bloomington and have three children.

Stebel is vice president for commercial banking at Busey Bank. He also serves as president of Home Sweet Home Mission Board of Directors. He is also past president of Bloomington-Normal Young Professionals, as well as a member of Sunrise Rotary. He also serves as a coach for youth baseball, basketball, and football.

Prosser and Stebel will each be filling an open seat with terms on the Board that will expire on June 30, 2020.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the work session meeting of Aug. 20, 2018.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Aug. 20, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug.29, 2018.

• A resolution to award the bid for the water treatment plant clarifier No. 2 recoating project to Troy, Ill.-based RP Coatings, Inc. at a total cost of $447,860.

By Steve Robinson | August 20, 2018 - 10:52 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members only had a couple omnibus items to attend to at the governing body’s regularly scheduled meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station Monday night and Town employees benefited from one of the items on the agenda because it was a resolution to authorize the renewal of group health, dental, and life/accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) program

But the Town received a positive surprise when the bill came due for that insurance, according to City Manager Pam Reece. She explained the Town had budgeted for an 8 percent raise in the cost of the group insurance only to discover that the increase they were presented was just 2 percent above the Town’s previous payment.

As a result, the Town was able to put $55,000 back into the Town’s general fund, Reece said. “Looking at our medical insurance programs, we thought our premiums, likely, would go up 8 percent,” Reece said following the meeting. Accordingly, Reece said, the Town planned for just that much of an increase when the bill came due.

General fund dollars are spent on items relating to the Town’s operations and maintenance needs, Reece reminded.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of Aug. 6, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug. 14, 2018.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the City Manager to enter into a solutions agreement with Superion, LLC to provide a hosted solution for general governmental software.

By Steve Robinson | August 6, 2018 - 10:56 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – In just over the last year, two Normal Fire Department hook and ladder trucks have sustained damage which pushed the Town into opting to replace the pair now rather than to do at a later scheduled fiscal year. At their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, Normal Town Council members unanimously approved the expenditure.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorized purchase of two replacement fire engine trucks from Spartan ERV through Houston-Galveston Area Council in the amount of $1,141,170, and approved a necessary budget adjustment. There was no Council discussion prior to the vote.

The Town needs to replace two fire engines, Engine 11 and Engine 15. Engine 11 first went into service in 2000, according to a memo written by Assistant Fire Chief Doug Barnett to Fire Chief Mick Humer, City Manager Pam Reece, and Interim Assistant City Manager Teri Legner. His memo indicated Engine 11 was to be replaced by Fiscal Year 2021-22.

But due to structural damage, NFD was forced to pull Engine 11 from service in May. But when Engine 15 was declared a total loss after catching fire following structural repairs, Engine 11 found itself back to work. Engine 15 was scheduled to be replaced in fiscal year 2025-26.

The report indicates the Town’s purchasing the two new engines now will save the Town money allowing to take advantage of price discounts and allow the Town to dodge a 3 percent jump in manufacturing costs slated to take effect in October. The Town’s total saving by purchasing in this way will be 6.3 percent, the report said. The new engines should arrive here next June. Such engines take roughly 300 days to make and deliver.

Trio Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Council members unanimously approved three new members to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Paul Scharnett, Carla Barnes, and Terry Ogunleye. Scharnett is an architect with Bloomington-based Francois Associates Architects, and currently sits on both the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission and Normal Building Board of Appeals. He also acts as director of College and Careers at Victory Christian Church. He resides in Hudson.

Barnes works in the McLean County Public Defender’s Office and has been a volunteer at Boys and Girls Club, and has been a supporter of Western Ave. Community Center. She volunteers to speak at local high schools, Youth Build, Illinois State University, and Heartland Community College. She lives in Bloomington.

Ogunleye works at Advanced Women’s Healthcare and serves on Advocate BroMenn Medical Center’s Service Auxiliary Board. She also volunteers at Kingsley Junior High School, University High School, and First Baptist Church. She and husband Dr. Dele Ogunleye live in Bloomington. Scharnett, Barnes, and Ogunleye will serve three-year terms which will expire June 30, 2021.

Special Olympics Illinois Honors, Thanks Town: Prior to the start of the meeting, Mayor Chris Koos was among those honored by Special Olympics Illinois with the presentation of medals and ribbons encased in a frame. Each of the medals and ribbons are given to participants at State Special Olympics Illinois events. In each of three cases were first, second, and third place gold medals on red, white, and blue lanyards. Also in each case were ribbons athletes receive for fourth through eighth place finishers and a participant ribbon. The other two framed cases went to Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner and Humer.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the special meeting of Normal Local Liquor Commission of July 16, 2018.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of July 16, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 11, 2018.

• A resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute Amendment 1 to the Vending Services Contract with Compass Group USA, Inc. through Canteen Vending to provide vending services to various Town facilities.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of refuse containers from Charlotte, N.C.-based Schaefer Systems International, Inc. in the amount of $25,503.10 and approval of an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution authorizing an intergovernmental agreement for cost-sharing of labor and equipment costs for electronic waste recycling with the City of Bloomington and County of McLean.

• A resolution approving a salary schedule adjustment for classified employees to reflect a cost of living adjustment and an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement with Illinois State University pertaining to fire protection service.

By Steve Robinson | July 19, 2018 - 10:03 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Almost three years ago, in the summer of 2015, when an increase in the amount of Home Rule Tax dollars coming to Normal the next year was brought up, Normal Town Council members sought suggestions for how the cash ought to be spent. With soccer being the latest sports rage in the community, there was a push for a multi-field facility to be constructed with a share of those dollars. Doing that, soccer proponents said, would be a draw into the community.

Kicking around the notion of such a facility turned into Normal Town Council, Bloomington City Council, and the Bloomington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau pooling resources to spend $47,000 on a three-month study conducted by Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA), to see what the company which acts as a research group, recommended for this community.

A Clearwater, Fla.-based company, SFA researches and manages similar projects, and whose presentation was given to the group by Evan Eleff, that company’s chief operating officer. SFA had representatives visiting the Twin Cities in April. “In the end, we want to answer the question of why – why a facility in this community,” Eleff told the gathering, which took place prior to the scheduled Normal Town Council session.

SFA, during the presentation which was unveiled at the Astroth Community Education Center on Heartland Community College ’s campus in northwest Normal , indicated a facility which would need to be multifaceted catering to more than one sport, and would come with a total price tag of just over $43.5 million. The bulk of that amount, he said, would be for the fields and sports equipment, carrying a price tag of an estimated $14.4 million. He added the county, too, would see some benefit from such a facility.

Such a facility, if being considered, Eleff said, “must have an economic impact. It must become a regional destination, and must add to an area’s quality of life.”

SFA looked at all sites for all different sports, Eleff said. He stressed if a facility is to be built, “It must not support a single sport.” To that end, he explained, SFA looked at 675 regional events of varying sports at what he called 250 “tourney capable” facilities which would compete with the Twin Cities to hold events. He said a number of those facilities could be within anywhere between an hour to four hours from where those who want to participate live.

He said to create a facility that has a dome is something to consider because, as he explained, a dome “is flexible and costs less operationally.” He said if a dome is not preferred, an outdoor structure which incorporates synthetic turf would be preferred. But he said, if the facility were to have 16 fields, a mix of synthetic and natural grass ought to be considered. The property sought for such as facility, he added, should be 130,000 sq. ft.

An additional benefit Eleff threw in was that even after the kids who use this potential facility grow older, they would be healthier and years later would have the potential for earning more at a future job.

No site for this proposed facility has been mentioned. And just after the 75-minute meeting started, public comment by resident Karl Sila led off the session. He said he would like to see officials concentrate on other matters other than this. He cited any facility could wind up being another one which gets taxpayer funding – something he said he doesn’t want to see – and referenced Downtown Bloomington’s Grossinger Arena as an example of such a location getting such funding.

But according to a local radio report, there is talk that a second unnamed developer has interest in financing such a facility as was discussed at the meeting. Up until that point, developer Katie Kim and landowner Dave Stark had been talking to stakeholders for more than a year concerning such a project.