NORMAL – In recent months, the Town of Normal sought input at public forums concerning how the Town should spend Community Block Development Block Grant dollars. There were a wide range of ideas proposed by citizens in those events. On Monday night, at their regularly-scheduled session Tuesday in Council Chambers, Normal Town Council members unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the filing of the Town’s CDBG for 2020 through 2024 and the action plan for 2020 and 2021. The meeting was held Tuesday as a result of Monday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Town Associate Planner Taylor Long informed Council members explained the CDBG is a five-year plan and that the funds anticipated for the Town should start coming in during the summer. He further explained that over the next five years, the Council will be consulted how they desire to spend CDBG dollars. In addition, most likely every January, the Council will receive an update on how CDBG money has been spent by the Town and will be asked for input concerning other needs the grant money could be used for.

In a memo Long wrote to Council members regarding CDBG, Long explained the grant is based on a formula from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and requires the Town to develop a five-year consolidation plan which acts as a guide for how the money would be spent.

Based on feedback from residents, Town Staff proposed the following objectives for the Consolidation Plan include, among other things: Youth education activities, down payment assistance, sidewalk and ADA ramp improvements, and job training/workforce development.

Long explained that Illinois State University students living off-campus in town will be counted as part of the 2020 census, which will help the Town in terms of counting residents and contribute to funds the Town can receive as a result.

Council Hears Presentation From Climate Action Campaign: A group seeking the Town’s help as well as help of other government entities in preparing for what they see as weather extremes which could affect the area in the future gave a brief presentation before Council adjourned. Members of the group Climate Action Campaign included retired Illinois State University Professor Bill Rau, who addressed Council members saying concerns about changes in extreme temperatures affecting the area are a direct result of climate change. Rau had support from four citizens who spoke in the meeting’s public comments section.

While Council members took no action on the matter, Council Member Stan Nord told the gathering the matter needs to be looked into by the Town.

Lawsuit Over Uptown Mural Dismissed: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by artists who created the Uptown mural the artists filed against the Town and the developer of the Trail East project. City Manager Pam Reece said following Monday’s meeting that the judge did that, essentially because the judge ruled the artists have no case because the mural still exists and the Town has shown a willingness to move it from its current location at 104 E. Beaufort St.

A group of artists filed a lawsuit last spring concerned the mural would be demolished when construction begins on the $30 million Trail East project in Uptown. Normal officials have given reassurances to the artists the mural will be moved and not destroyed. Normal and Trail East developer Bush Construction sought a halt to the lawsuit asking the judge to end the suit in November. The future location of the mural is still unknown.

It’s still unclear where the mural will be moved. That delicate process will cost around $100,000.

The mural has served as the centerpiece in a larger discussion concerning the project versus preserving buildings which are part of the Town’s history.

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

• Approval of minutes of the rescheduled regular meeting held Jan. 6, 2020.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Jan. 15, 2020.

• A resolution authorizing an agreement for construction materials testing services for the 2020 construction season with Bloomington-based Ramsey Geotechnical Engineering, LLC (RGE).

• A resolution to appropriate $1,550,000 of Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds for resurfacing of various streets for the 2020 MFT Street Resurfacing Project.

• An ordinance accepting permanent easements in connection with the Glenn Ave. Bridge Reconstruction Project.

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