Paxton to seek bids for demolition of two homes

PAXTON — The Paxton City Council authorized Mayor Bill Ingold on Tuesday night to proceed with advertising for bids for the demolition of two dilapidated homes.

The homes, at 137 W. Oak St. and 234 W. State St., are “two of the three nuisance properties that we’ve been dealing with for probably the better part of a year and a half to two years,” Ingold said. The third nuisance property is at 354 E. Fulton St.

Ingold said in June that he had already contacted two companies that do demolition work about razing the homes. On Tuesday, Ingold said the legal process of obtaining a demolition order was nearly complete for the Oak Street and State Street homes, adding that he would like for the city to be “ahead of the game” by proceeding with seeking demolition bids now.

Ingold asked the seven aldermen present whether they would prefer seeking bids for the entire removal of each home or just a partial removal of each home. Under the latter option, the basements and foundations would stay but be filled in with dirt.

The council decided to seek bids under both scenarios and then determine which option is most cost-effective.

Bids are expected to be opened at the council’s Aug. 14 meeting.

After the homes are torn down, the city is likely to acquire the properties and can then sell them as vacant lots that can be developed.

The Fulton Street home, meanwhile, is not as far along in the legal process in preparation for demolition, Ingold said.

“It’ll require more legal maneuvering on that one, because the company that owns it is in bankruptcy,” Ingold said. “Unless we want to go to Florida and hire an attorney in Florida and appear in court in Florida, we’re not going to get it done as quickly as the other two.”

Other business
Also at the meeting:

➜ Paxton resident Tony Lee said he would like to donate to the city a lot owned by the estate of his late father, former mayor L. John Lee. The lot is located off of Shal Lee Court, an area developed for residential use by Mr. Lee and another man “many years ago,” Tony Lee said. “It’s kind of the odd lot out,” Tony Lee said. “It just didn’t fit, and they never improved it or put any property on there.” The lot abuts the girls’ softball field at Nelson Field, and Mr. Lee installed some bleachers on it so it could be used by spectators at ball games. Tony Lee said he has had “no luck selling the property,” which is maintained by the local park district during the softball season and by Tony Lee the rest of the year. As a result, Tony Lee said he would like to donate it to the city. “I’d just kind of like to get the ball rolling on this,” he said. Tony Lee said he would like to possibly put a boulder in memory of his father on the lot at some point.

➜ Ingold presented Public Works Director Mark LeClair with a plaque recognizing him for 40 years of employment with the city — a milestone achieved in April.

➜ The council voted unanimously to approve the city’s annual appropriation ordinance. Alderman Bill Wylie, chairman of the council’s finance committee, said the ordinance is required each year by the state, and its purpose is to cap expenditures in each fund.

➜ The council voted unanimously to approve a resolution updating the city’s signatories for banking purposes. Under the resolution, which was recommended by the city’s auditors, three city officials are designated signatories — the mayor, deputy clerk Heather Haile and Comptroller/Treasurer Tammy Jensen.  Each check is required to be signed by two of those three officials.

➜ The council postponed taking any action on the payment of additional engineering fees associated with a followup inspection of the city’s two newly repainted water towers. The matter will be placed on the agenda for the council’s September meeting. In May, engineer Greg Gustafson of Berns, Clancy & Associates estimated that such fees could range from $5,000 to $6,000.

➜ The council voted unanimously to accept a $129,205 bid from Watseka-based Iroquois Paving Corp. for road work funded by motor-fuel tax (MFT) revenue, along with an alternate bid of $18,909 for additional MFT-funded road work in the 200 block of West State Street. The State Street project was added to the city’s list of road repairs to be completed this summer after the two bids received “came in lower than what we expected,” Alderman Rob Steiger said. The only other bidder was Cross Construction of Urbana, which submitted a bid of $176,130 for the road work excluding the State Street project. Besides State Street, roads to be repaired include a section of Cherry Street abutting Ottawa Road; the 100, 900 and 1000 blocks of East Summer Street; and one block of West Center Street near the downtown.

➜ City engineer Mike Streff said he has asked the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to extend the deadline, by 30 days, for the city to provide the agency with a groundwater monitoring assessment report related to the groundwater at the city’s long-closed landfill near the Paxton Municipal Airport. The deadline for providing the report was July 15, but Streff was not expecting to be able to meet that deadline. In June, Streff assessed the condition of each well at the landfill, and PDC Laboratories tested water samples taken from each well in preparation for Streff filing the groundwater monitoring assessment report with the IEPA.

➜ Downtown business owner Debi Chapman-Hermann raised concerns about the presence of large potholes in front of her store in the 100 block of North Market Street. She said a 72-year-old clerk who works for her recently fell and injured herself after stepping in one of the potholes. She said the potholes present a safety hazard, especially for the elderly. The mayor said the issue would be addressed through the city’s downtown streetscape improvement project, which it plans to complete in upcoming years using the city’s remaining revolving-loan funds.

➜ Paxton Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Hanson said out-of-towners attending the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show at Bixby Park had some trouble finding the park. Hanson said he thinks more signage is needed at future fireworks shows. “We learn (how to improve it) every year,” Alderman Rob Steiger said.

➜ The council again postponed taking a vote on the proposed granting of a transmission easement to Ameren Illinois. Ingold said he had been in contact in recent months with a representative of Ameren about some changes the city wanted Ameren to make in its proposal for the easement, but that person has now left her position with Ameren. Ingold said he talked with another Ameren representative prior to Tuesday’s meeting and was told that things would finally move forward. Ingold said he hoped to have a proposal ready for the council to vote on during the Aug. 14 meeting.

➜ The council voted unanimously to reassign a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban from the police department to the Paxton Emergency Management Agency. The EMA, in turn, will sell its car, with the proceeds going to help buy a new squad vehicle for the police department — a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe. Another police department vehicle — a 2011 model with more than 100,000 miles on it — will be sold to the public works department.

➜ The council made plans to vote during its Aug. 14 meeting on a proposal that would prohibit parking on the south side of the 200 block of West State Street across from the Ford County Courthouse. Alderman Eric Evans said a resident who lives across from the courthouse sometimes parks on the south side of State Street, making it difficult to maneuver a vehicle in or out of the angled parking spaces on the street’s north side. “I had a little bit of a difficult time backing in and out, because I thought I was going to back into this vehicle,” Evans said. As an alternative to prohibit parking entirely in that area, Steiger suggested that parking be restricted there only during certain times, such as when the courthouse is open. “I think there are other streets you could look at (for ‘no-parking’ zones), as well,” added Alderman Rob Pacey.

➜ Evans, chairman of the council’s city property committee, said he planned to schedule a meeting of his committee for Aug. 9 or Aug. 13.

➜ Ingold said he attended training sessions offered by the Illinois Liquor Commission on June 26 in Springfield. While there, Ingold said he also attended a session on video-gambling machines. “I got some good information,” Ingold said.

➜ Pacey, chairman of the council’s community committee, suggested that the city schedule a cleanup day for the railroad cut in upcoming months. Ingold said he feels the cleanup of the railroad cut is not the city’s responsibility, however, noting that it is owned by the Canadian National Railroad. Ingold said he spoke on July 9 with the railroad’s chief legal officer about the railroad cut’s appearance and planned to send photos to the legal officer by the end of this week, as well, “to show him that I think they need to step up and take some responsibility in what they’ve got.” Ingold said he thinks the railroad cut “looks pretty nasty.”

➜ Ingold said the city’s comptroller/treasurer would begin training “in the next few days” in preparation for the city to start accepting water/sewer bill payments online.

➜ The council voted unanimously to rescind a redevelopment agreement with Paxton Hospitality Inc., a company that owns the Paxton Inn immediately west of Interstate 57. The agreement was approved by the council in May 2017, but it was never signed by the motel’s owner, Ingold said. Since that time, the motel has been sold, Ingold added. Under the agreement, Paxton Hospitality Inc. would have been reimbursed up to $85,000 over the remaining life of the city’s tax-increment financing district for concrete work done to the motel’s parking lot.

➜ Ingold reminded aldermen that the Central Illinois Municipal Officers Association will hold a meeting Thursday, July 19, at the Little Chef Diner on John Street in Paxton. The speaker for the meeting is expected to be a representative of the “CEO program” that is being introduced in fall 2019 at area schools, including Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School.

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County


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