NORMAL – During a work session prior to Normal Town Council’s regularly scheduled meeting July 20 in Council Chambers, Council member received an update on a program which has the desire of decreasing vehicle accidents and fatalities.

The program, known as Go Safe, was funded by a grant awarded McLean County Regional Planning Commission by Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), explained Commission Executive Director Raymond Lai. The Vision Zero campaign was developed in Switzerland with its primary goal being working toward having a world of work without accidents and illness. MCRPC Executive Director Raymond Lai and Senior Transportation Planner Jennifer Sicks walked Council members through potential improvements Go: Safe Program suggests.

Lai introduced Council members to a plan which began in Switzerland in 1997 but has been moving steadily worldwide. Chicago and Portland, Ore. are affiliated with the program, and if Normal were to sign on to the program, it would be just the second community in Illinois to do so, Lai explained.

Go: Safe organizers sought comment throughout March from the public concerning the project, Lai explained, followed by the local group drawing up an action plan by early April. Two committees, a steering committee and a committee to establish areas of concern, were established to examine items to address.

Lai said among the priorities the program aims to address are: Equity, education, enforcement, economic impact, and evaluation. Lai said the ultimate goal of this program is to have zero traffic fatalities or life-changing injuries in the community by 2030. While that might seem far off, Lai said, “It takes time for human behavior to change and for the community to work together in a comprehensive way to reach that goal,” Lai added.

Among the ways transportation can be carried out safely, Sicks added, include: For the Town to continue to prioritize and target transit stops for infrastructure improvements, and completely interconnect walking and bicycling networks with bus routes to increase public transit and add bus lanes and areas for pedestrians.

Sicks listed 11 streets which MCRPC has listed which either need review or have known safety issues. Those streets include: N. Main St. (College Ave. to Olive St.); Veterans Pkwy. (Shepard to Hamilton); Illinois Rt. 9 (Airport Rd. to Martin Luther King Dr.); E. College Ave. (Grandview Dr. to Veterans Pkwy.); S. Main St. (Veterans Pkwy. To R.T. Dunn Dr.); Gregory St. (Parkside Rd. to Main St.); W. Beaufort St. (Main St. to Linden Ave.); N. Main St. (Raab Rd. to College Ave.); S. Main St. (Veterans Pkwy. To Hamilton); E. Lincoln Rd. (Mercer Ave. to Veterans Parkway); N. University St. (Willow St. to Beaufort Ave.); Parkway Plaza Dr. (Veterans Pkwy. to Susan St.); and Wylie Dr. (College Ave. to U.S. 150).

To get residents to think in terms of safety through Go: Safety, Sicks showed MCRPC will be promoting it on its own page as well as launching a community-wide campaign. She pointed out all communities in the area as well as subset communities such as campuses of Illinois State University and local grade schools could become involved in the program. Local organizations could also take a stake in the program as a means of promoting the cause, Sicks said.

Families could sign up to take a Go: Safe participant, either as a driver or a pedestrian by pledging to obey certain driving rules such as removing distractions such as cell phones, or making sure to cross streets at intersections.

Mayor Chris Koos noted he did not see anything in the presentation concerning substance abuse issues. Sicks said that subject is being addressed by the State of Illinois and that Go: Safety does address it. Council Member Karyn Smith asked if a Regional Planning Commission staffer will be given charge of this program to oversee. Lai responded such a thing is part of his group’s future plans. For now, his group is trying to work with governmental entities until then.

Council Member Stan Nord requested Lai return to Council to inform the governmental body on the direction incidents are going in, either up or down. Nord also asked if there was a community that has had success which Normal could model itself after in this program to which Lai explained the program is still fairly new to America making such data currently incomplete.

Council Member Kevin McCarthy mentioned non-motorized vehicles sales and economic development in the community are increasing, and that reducing accidents are the intent of the community. He added, “Our community and others that focus on multi-modal safety are going to, frankly, attract the workforce of the future.”

Koos concluded by saying, in this case, “Zero is a good goal to have. Whether we get there or not, it’s not from a lack of trying.”

NORMAL – By a 6-1 count, Normal Town Council members voted to approve a resolution to enter into an agreement with United States Department of Transportation to receive a grant which would aid the Town to pay for the underpass project at Uptown Station. The grant came courtesy of the federal 2019 BUILD Transportation Grants Program. The Federal funds would provide up to $24 million, or 93 percent of the funding needed for the project. Council members needed to approve an associated budget adjustment. Council Member Stan Nord cast the lone opposing vote.

The grant agreement will provide the Town $13 million in funding through the BUILD grant provided by U.S. Department of Transportation and an additional $3 million through additional Federal funds, giving the Town $16 million for the project. The funds will pay for the project’s second phase involving final design and third phase involving construction. The Town applied for the grant in July 2019, with word of how much the Town would receive arriving in November that year.

While the project’s first phase has been in progress, funding for the project has come from Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Commerce Commission. ICC contributed $6.25 million – $5 million from the State’s Rebuild Illinois Capital Fund and $1.25 million in Crossing Protection Funds. Other funding included $7.9 million, or 33 percent, in non-Federal funds; and $1.6 million, or slightly over 7 percent from the Town.

Mayor Chris Koos explained large projects like this were “always looked at with the best interest of the community in mind.” He added the vision current and former Town Councils had produced Normal having Diamond Star Motors, Constitution Trail, Rivian Motors, and Normal Theater. “These are the kind of decisions that we have to make and we do so knowing we are improving the quality of life and economic development in our community.”

Nord reminded construction estimates for the project were done prior to America beginning to experience the pandemic, in 2020, which altered how business was conducted over a year ago. “Since the pandemic, construction prices have gone way up.” He cited lumber prices increased by 171 percent, and steel costs have doubled. Sources he cited included Daily Construction Journal and Associated Contractors of America.

Koos acknowledged construction prices have gone up but was quick to add they also have dropped in the months since the pandemic began. He also reminded Nord construction will not begin on the underpass until sometime in the next year and a half to two years. “We don’t know what those prices will be” at that time, he told Nord.

Reece explained to Council members it will be “a couple of months” before she returns to Council with plans for the design phase of the project.

Public comment on both sides of the underpass issue came from former Mayor Paul Harmon, retired City Manager Mark Peterson, former Town Council member Cheryl Gaines, and resident Jonathan Seiden who encouraged Council members in their effort to get the project started financially, and from Patrick Hoban, chief executive officer of Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council. Views opposed to the project came from former Normal Town Council candidate Karl Sila.

Parking Issue Addressed: Nord said he made note the Town lost $12,678 in revenue regarding parking garages in Uptown. He asked that Town Staff look into a solution for that. City Manager Pam Reece responded, saying Council members will have an item related to parking on the agenda for their Aug. 2 meeting. Reece said Council will be presented a study which addresses parking in the decks and on street parking. Reece added the study will “make recommendations on solutions.”

She added it would be a Council members’ decision to recommend the Town cease charging for parking and make parking at Uptown’s two garages a free parking situation. But Reece was quick to say free parking was not recommended, and that Council approve conducting a scheduled study on the matter to find out a way to solve the matter. When Council members voted to approve the omnibus agenda, which this item was part of, it was approved with a 6-1 vote as Nord voted in opposition.

Water Main Extension Project Discussed, Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution awarding a bid to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating for water main extension projects at White Oak Rd. and Hovey Ave. at a cost of $1,600,862.50 plus a potential bonus of $15,000 for early completion.

Children’s Discovery Museum Board Reappointments Approved: Council members heard of three reappointments to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board. Rob Widmer, Terry Ogunleye, and Paul Scharnett will serve another term. Widmer currently serves as Board Chair while Scharnett serves as vice chair.

Normal Police Receive Reaccreditation: Reece recognized Normal Police Department for been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) since 1994. This year’s honor wasn’t NPD’s first, but rather, a list of honors CALEA has recognized the department with. In 2005, NPD was selected as a Flagship Agency. CALEA’s Flagship program was created to acknowledge achievements and expertise of some of the most successful CALEA accredited agencies.

In 2011, 2014 and 2017 the Department was recognized as a Meritorious Agency for achieving and maintaining CALEA Accreditation for 15 or more continuous years. The department received CALEA’s Accreditation with Excellence Award in 2014 and 2017. The Excellence Award is given by the commission to those agencies that underwent reaccreditation through the Gold Standard Assessment model and who most embody the effective use of accreditation as a model to deliver enhanced public safety services and management professionalism. Accreditation by CALEA is an award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence and competence.

Liquor Commission Meeting Cancelled: Although scheduled to precede Monday’s Council session, the meeting of the Normal Local Liquor Commission was cancelled.

Amtrak To Resume Full Service Through Uptown Station: At a press conference Monday afternoon, an official from Amtrak announced the rail line will resume using 10 trains – 5 running to and 5 running back to Uptown from St. Louis. Magliari said trains running to St. Louis will allow passengers to go beyond the river city to Texas and California as well.

Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman, announced all downstate passenger rail service, which Amtrak has with IDOT, was restored as of Monday. Scott Speegle, passenger rail communications manager for IDOT, added the State agency “has worked closely with Amtrak to serve as many people as we were able to, but also taking into account the safety precautions that were needed, as well as being financially responsible with State money. We feel now is a great time to start our service back up.”

Koos called Amtrak’s move “a boon for our community and for transportation in the Midwest.”

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

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of July 6, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 14, 2021.

• A resolution to accept a proposal for line sludge removal from Clyman, Wis.-based United Liquid Waste Recycling.

By Steve Robinson | July 6, 2021 - 10:42 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members quickly addressed a pair of omnibus items during their meeting held Tuesday night in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station Tuesday night. One dealt with purchase of a piece of equipment for the Town Water Department while the second dealt with extension of the sanitary sewer being extended in areas west of Rivian Motorway. The meeting was held Tuesday because Town offices were closed to observe the 4th of July Federal Holiday on Monday. One Council member, Stan Nord, was absent from the session.

Purchase Of Equipment For Town Water Department Approved: Council members voted unanimously approved a resolution to waive formal bidding process and accept a quote from Perry, Ga.-based Utility Service Co., Inc. for the purchase and installation of a pax tank mixing system for use in the Town’s west reservoir located on West College Ave. near Interstate 55. The reservoir, constructed in 1983, holds 4 million gallons of water.

In a report submitted to Council by Town Director of Water John Burkhart, the reservoir has experienced periods “low chlorine residuals, stratification, nitrification, and poor circulation.” Such problems, Burkhart added in his report, “are typical of a ground storage reservoir.” The problems the reservoir have had which this repair would address become more apparent in summer and fall months, due to warmer weather,” Burkhart’s report added.

In answer to a question from Council Member Karyn Smith, Burkhart explained the new system was replacing a system which wasn’t working as well as anticipated. The system being replaced was approved by Council in 2008. Of the system approved for purchase at Monday’s session, Burkhart responded to a question from Council Member Scott Preston explaining the hope is the new system will last 20 years.

Council Members Kathleen Lorenz and Kevin McCarthy each commended Burkhart of his department’s efforts when it comes to performing preventative maintenance on the Town water system.

Work On Design For West College Ave. Sanitary Sewer Extension Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Springfield-based offices of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly to perform engineering design services for a sanitary sewer extension for West College Ave. The Town would spend an amount not to exceed $60,000 and required a corresponding budget adjustment. The project will provide sewer system access for future development which would take place in areas along and west of Rivian Motorway. The preliminary cost of the extension is $1.1 million.

In his report to Council members, Town Engineer Ryan Otto explained with ongoing expansion at Rivian Automotive going on, opportunity for further development in that area means necessary infrastructure needs to be available to support it as that area continues to expand.

Otto’s report added existing sewer service is not available either along or west of Rivian Motorway. The Town’s current sewer service is provided to existing businesses and Rivian Automotive, but ends roughly 2,800 feet east of the Rivian facility. His report said the proposed 18-foot sanitary sewer extension will serve roughly 630 acres of undeveloped land west of Rivian Motorway. The extension of sewer line would allow new businesses to develop in that area, his report added.

Council Member Smith Reminds Residents To Keep Yard Waste Out Of Curbs: The recent downpours we have experienced have caused some yard waste to move from yards to curbs and near gutters, Smith pointed out. She encouraged residents to keep their curbs free of such waste to prevent it from blocking storm drains. She said such debris like weeds and small tree branches can be put in cans for disposal if the cans have stickers from the Normal Public Works Department designating what the debris is. She added such debris must be in the yard and not in the street in order to be collected by the Town. She added residents who see clogged drains should contact the Public Works Department to make them aware of the problem.

Craft Beer Bingo Month Mentioned To Raise Money For Children’s Museum: Council Member Kevin McCarthy reminded attendees during July. Five participating breweries are holding a month-long fundraiser with monies going to Children’s Discovery Museum. Bingo-style game cards can be picked up at, and money raised from the event will benefit CDM. The breweries taking part are: Medici, Destihl, Keg Grove Brewing Co., Lil Beaver Brewery, and White Oak Brewing. Players have until Aug.7 to turn in their game cards and cash prizes will be awarded Aug. 9.

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

• Approval of minutes of the special Council meeting of June 14, 2021.

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of June 21, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of June 30, 2021.

• A resolution to accept proposal with Boston, Mass.-based CDM Smith for an ammonia removal study at a total cost not to exceed $140,956 and approve an associated budget adjustment of $956.

• A resolution authorizing a four-year well rehabilitation and repair services agreement with Fenton, Mo.-based Layne Christensen, a Granite Co.

• A resolution to approve executive session minutes, to release executive session minutes from minutes in 2021 held March 29 and June 14; and to retain confidentiality for executive session minutes held June 19, 2017, February 18, 2019, April 15, 2019, and June 21, 2021.

By Steve Robinson | June 21, 2021 - 10:04 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution giving permission for a second amended preliminary subdivision plan for Blackstone Trails subdivision. With Council’s approval of this, developers can continue the build-out of a residential subdivision. The developer, iDev, LLC, purchased the roughly 106.48 acres of land for such a purpose in 2009.

The current submitted amended preliminary subdivision plan is for the north half of the subdivision in accordance with an agreement approved by Council members in 2019. The majority of the property was zoned R-1B Single Family Residential, but a strip of land along Shepard Rd. and a portion of Hershey Rd. were zoned R-2 Mixed Residential.

The preliminary plat was approved by Council members in 2009 followed by Council approval of the first final plat a year later. The final plat on the first addition was approved by Council members in May 2013. In January 2019, Council members approved a zoning map amendment rezoning roughly 1.69 acres at the development’s southwest end to be S-2 Public Lands and Institutions so the Town could develop land for use to place a new Normal Fire Department station.

Council members received this item to approve after Normal Planning Commission held a public hearing to review the 2nd amended preliminary subdivision plan where Commission members voted 7-0 to approve the plan. Before the vote at that session, NPC members heard from a resident of that area who posed a number of questions concerning design factors for the new structures.

Council Vote Grants Raise For City Manager Reece: With Council Member Chemberly Cummings absent from the session, Council members voted 5-1 approving a resolution amending the base salary of City Manager Pam Reece. Council Member Stan Nord cast the lone opposing. He explained Tuesday he asked for release of the minutes of the executive session Council members held in a special meeting on June 14. He said he wants those minutes released so the public can hear the discussion Council members had concerning the matter.

But Reece told Council members minutes from June 14’s executive session aren’t due to be released until the Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 6. The meeting will be held that day because Monday, July 5 is when municipalities will celebrate the July 4th holiday, which falls on a Sunday this year.

Reece, a 30-year employee of the Town, has a contract to work at her post until March 31, 2024. Her annual salary as of April 1, 2019 was set at $190,550 with an adjustment a year later of $$5,716.50 and a further raise of $4,733.50 effective April 1.

Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich To Retire: Toward the end of the session, Reece announced Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich has announced his intention to retire in August after serving the Town for 24 years. Monday was his last time at a Council session. “We could talk for hours on the impact he has had on this organization,” Reece said. Aldrich joined the Town in 1997 starting as Town Engineer. From there, Reece said, Town officials moved him into the role of Uptown Development Director. In April 2002, Aldrich was appointed by then-City Manager Mark Peterson to coordinate the Uptown Renewal Plan as the Town’s Uptown Development Director.

“Wayne has led what has been the most impactful and remarkable municipal project in the State of Illinois, and certainly in the Town of Normal, leading Uptown Development,” Reece said, adding Council members currently sit in a Council Chambers that came to be courtesy of Aldrich’s leadership when Uptown Station was constructed.

“His legacy in our organization and our community is probably indescribable,” Reece concluded.

Aldrich, who was in the gallery, spoke briefly, saying his time with the Town “has always been exciting and we’ve got a great team.” He added he was thankful for the support he received of three City Managers he served under (the late David Anderson, Peterson, and now Reece), as well as support from Town Council members for being able to complete some of the projects he had done.

Technical Services With Regional Planning Commission Approved: Nord asked an omnibus item concerning a resolution for the Town going into an agreement with McLean County Regional Planning Commission be discussed because of his concern that a consultant working on a project is also on the board of Connect Transit. Council members voted 5-1 to approve the measure with Nord voting against.

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

• Approval of minutes of the special meeting of June 7, 2021.

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of June 7, 2021.

• A resolution to accept a five-year proposal from Valparaiso, Ind.-based M. E. Simpson Co. for large meter testing services.

• A resolution to Accept Bids and Award a Contract to J.G. Stewart Contractors, Inc. for the Landmark Drive Sidewalk – West Sidewalk Construction Project in the Amount of $320,295.

• A resolution to Accept a Proposal with Crawford, Murphy and Tilly Engineers for a Hydraulic Model of the Water Distribution System at a Total Cost Not to Exceed $115,000 and Approve an Associated Budget Adjustment.

• An ordinance amending Ordinance No. 5838, concerning an easement vacation for the resubdivision of lot #2 in the first addition to Eagle’s Landing Commercial Subdivision at 1290 Healing Stone.

By Steve Robinson | June 7, 2021 - 10:42 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution executing an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington, McLean County, and McLean County Soil and Water District for administering and implementing watershed management programs. The Council session was held remotely as a result of the Town continuing to take precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Town Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich told Council members the agreement pertains specifically to the watershed north of town concerning residents near watersheds of Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen. Council Member Stan Nord said he has had complaints regarding grasses in the areas not being mowed by the Town, creating grasses as high as six foot high. He said constituents have sent him photos as evidence of such unmowed areas. He said there have been complaints from residents near areas around Sugar Creek.

Intergovernmental Agreement Concerning Drop Box Recycling Approved: Council members, with Council Member Kevin McCarthy absent from the session, voted 5-1 to approve a resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with the City of Bloomington and McLean County for cost sharing for the Community Drop Box Recycling Program. Nord cast the lone opposing vote explaining that recycling programs had been dropped in the past only to be resurrected when landlords were required to provide it. The agreement approved is contingent on being passed by all three parties in order for the cost sharing to continue, City Manager Pam Reece explained.

Nord said part of his reasoning against this was that with recycling available to residents, this agreement would have county residents “subsidizing Town of Normal Drop Box locations.”

Reece said there were discussions in 2018 between the Town and City of Bloomington concerning drop boxes. At that time, Reece pointed out, at that time, Normal discussed cancelling the drop box program while Bloomington officials opted to continue the program. She countered Nord’s concerns that Normal had taken these actions in such a way that citizens were not made aware of the situation. “The Council decided, as a body, decided to continue the program,” Reece explained, adding, “There’s been no smoke and mirrors, no saying to the taxpayers that we were going to do one thing and then doing something else. This has all been public conversation, a public decision by the elected body and a budgeted process in terms of continuing a service.”

She added that in January, Town staff presented Council members a new drop box recycling program with Midwest Fiber which would include the City of Bloomington and McLean County. At that time, Nord, joined by Council members Kathleen Lorenz and Scott Preston voted against the measure in favor of an agreement already in place with the company. At the time of that vote, Preston said he would prefer the Town continue the current agreement where the Midwest Fiber maintains charging the Town $7,500 monthly for the services rendered.

Mayor Chris Koos reminded that the City of Bloomington and McLean County have already approved their shares of the agreement making the Town the last one to do so.

June 21 Council Session To Be First In-Person Session Since March 23, ’20: Since April 2020, Normal Town Council members have met remotely as a means of protection related to the Coronavirus pandemic. And ever since then, Koos has started every meeting indicating he felt it “wasn’t prudent” for Council sessions to be done in public because of the pandemic. But as of Friday, the State of Illinois anticipates moving into Phase 5. Under Phase 5, as guided by the State, businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks and seated-spectator venues, among other such functions, will be able to operate at full capacity. If activating Phase 5 happens as the State anticipates this week, Normal Town Council’s next session would be in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station on Monday, June 21.

Normal Town Council members last met in person in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station on March 23, 2020. Ever since their first meeting the next month, Council sessions have been on YouTube and available on the town website, www.normal.org.

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

• Approval of minutes of the special meeting of May 17, 2021.

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of May 17, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as June 2, 2021.

• A resolution to accept the bid and approve a contract with CORE Construction in the amount of $31,000 for the Lackey Climber Illinois Department of Natural Resources public museums grant project.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington and McLean County for cost sharing for the community drop box recycling program.

• A resolution to award the proposal for boiler replacement at the Town’s water treatment plant to Mahoney Mechanical at a total cost of $34,500.

• A resolution to award the bid for roof replacement at four wellhouses and the west booster station to Western Waterproofing at a total cost of $129,066.43.