By Steve Robinson | May 7, 2018 - 10:13 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members approved a “Welcoming” Ordinance at the governing body’s regularly-scheduled session Monday in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station while an overflow crowd of nearly 200 residents watched. The ordinance passed by a 5-2 vote with Council members Scott Preston and Jeff Fritzen voting against the measure.

The Town has been working with the Keeping Families Together Coalition, a group representing a number of different organizations who has had members who have been meeting with Town Staff to help recognize Normal as a Welcoming community. Former City Manager Mark Peterson, current City Manager Pam Reece, and Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner met to discuss areas of interest which included building a long-term relationship between the Coalition’s members and the Town.

Among the provisions of the ordinance are: Town employees will not ask questions about a resident’s citizenship or immigration status unless required by statute, ordinance, Federal law, court order, or if deemed necessary for criminal investigation; and Normal Police will not investigate individuals solely on matters regarding immigration violation.

A total of 15 residents addressed Council members, 14 of whom encouraged passage of the ordinance. Dontae Latson, president and Chief Executive Officer of McLean County YWCA, told Council members passing the ordinance would be “a strong first step in the right direction.” Resident Richard Greenfield told Council members, “I know for some, this will be a tough vote but I urge you to vote for it because it’s the right thing to do.”

“The ordinance has been carefully discussed,” mentioned Charlotte Alvarez, a member of the group Keeping Families Together. “Being undocumented is not a crime. This ordinance is a solution that works best for this community at this time.”

But resident and former Town Council candidate Ron Ulmer was one of two citizens opposing the measure’s passage. “Are we searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist?” he asked Council members. Resident Karl Sila also spoke against the ordinance’s passage, saying undocumented residents take jobs from legal citizens, and deemed the process the Council was going through that night “a waste of time.” He said he encouraged people to come into the country legally.

As the discussion among Council members began, Mayor Chris Koos, back at his first meeting since having cancer surgery last month, admitted this was a divisive issue. ”This ordinance doesn’t tell ICE ‘You can’t come into our community.’” ICE is the Federal government’s division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.

Council Member R. C. McBride everyone involved in the process of getting this ordinance assembled has not had an easy time in doing it. McBride thanked Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner for his efforts where the ordinance was concerned. Council Member Kathleen Lorenz reminded this issue can be a partisan one and asked Bleichner if NPD’s membership supports the ordinance completely. Bleichner said his department wants to show dignity and respect to people who the ordinance is designed to help. “I’ve gotten nothing but positive comments about this ordinance from our staff,” Bleichner responded.

“For me, I support the substance and substance of what this ordinance is trying to be,” Preston said of his no vote. He said his no vote came because he felt such enforcement of such a matter should be done at Town Staff level and that Town Council members shouldn’t “get into the weeds of how Town Staff operates” on matters. He said NPD already a number of things the ordinance asks and for the Council to step in to oversee something already being done didn’t make sense to him.

Prior to the meeting, a rally by supporters of the measure was held at the roundabout in Uptown and many of those people who attended the rally brought signs supporting passage of the measure into the Council session. During public comment on the matter, a total of 15 residents addressed Council members supporting its passage while one speaker voiced opposition to it.

Resolution Requesting TIF Extension Passes: There was only one other item Council members addressed during the session which, with a brief break, lasted around three hours. Council Members unanimously approved a resolution requesting legislative approval for a 12 year extension of the Tax Increment Financing district in order to continue improvements within Uptown. To receive that requires legislative approval. The current Uptown Normal TIF, which lasts for 23 years, was created in May 2003 and will expire in 2026. A 12 year extension would allow the TIF to continue to exist until 2038 and would help the Town to do work in Uptown in an area from the roundabout to Mulberry Street northbound.

Seven governing entities would need to be involved and approve the extension, as well. Those include: City of Bloomington, Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, Heartland Community College Board, Normal Township, Central Illinois Regional Airport Authority, McLean County Board, and Normal-based Unit 5 School District Board.

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

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

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of May 2, 2018.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of four (4) refuse collection trucks from Arlington Heights-based Cumberland Servicenter, Inc. in the amount of $1,271,428.

• A resolution authoring payment to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $34,184.73 for emergency sewer repairs on Samantha Street.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the City Manager to enter into construction and service agreements with CIRBN, LLC. to install fiber optic infrastructure at three elevated water storage tanks.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and accepting a quote from Ferguson Water Works to replace remaining water meters and readers and approval of the necessary budget adjustments. This item was pulled for a brief discussion by Council members and approved by a 4-3 vote with Council Members Kevin McCarthy, McBride, and Lorenz voting against it.

• A motion to reject bids for the Route 66 trail connection Constitution Trail extension from the Towanda Ave./Shelbourne Drive intersection to the Beech St./Pine St. intersection.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 7th, 2018 at 10:13 pm and is filed under Normal Town Council, The Normalite. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.