Intersection near I-57 could be improved to entice retail development in Paxton

PAXTON — An intersection just east of Interstate 57 that is expected to be a focal point of development in Paxton’s first tax-increment financing district could be widened and improved — with a stop light possibly added, as well — to entice more retail outlets to set up shop there.

The Paxton City Council on Monday approved spending $10,000 for engineer Greg Cook to do a traffic and accident study of the intersection of Centennial Drive and Illinois 9 on the city’s west side.

Centennial Drive is the unimproved street that leads to the Monical’s Pizza and Subway restaurants that used to be just a field entrance. It is the first intersection east of the Interstate 57 exit to Paxton.

Mayor Bill Ingold hopes to use funds generated by the city’s first tax increment financing district — which includes the area surrounding the interstate — to improve the intersection and install a left-turn lane.

Ingold said he has been in talks with at least two retailers  interested in building there if the intersection is improved. He said he could foresee a time when a stop light might even be necessary.

Cook said he and the city are in contact with the state transportation department and have its tacit approval to develop the street, but Cook said there are many steps to take before that happens and that the traffic study is just the first one.

Cook said the intersection needs to be better, wider and less sloped to attract business.

“You want to lay it out on a golden platter (for them),” Cook said.

Ingold said an improved intersection will also benefit the Shields Automart car dealership located on the north side of the highway.

Filter building update
Also Monday, the council authorized engineer Matt Johnson to begin preparing bid documents for planned improvements to the water department’s filter building.

Johnson said the project should cost no more than $311,000, including engineering fees and a contingency fund. There is money in the city’s replacement and improvement fund to pay for the work.

Trees to be treated
Also, the council approved Ameren hiring contractors to apply a growth retardant to trees within 10 feet of power lines in the city.

The active ingredient in the chemical product, Cambistat, is paclobutrazol and, in addition to regulating growth, the chemical can improve drought, disease and insect resistance of trees, according to Mike Price, the superintendent of vegetation management for Ameren.

The paclobutrazol will be applied as a root treatment now, since trees have just been trimmed. It would not be reapplied until after the next trimming. The trimming cycle is now two years, and with the applications Ameren hopes to reduce trimming to every four years.

Homeowners could opt out of the treatment if they do not want trees in their yard treated, and Price said distressed trees would not be treated. Price said the applications are being done in various towns in Central Illinois and grew out of a pilot program in Indiana in 2006.

Annexation update
City Attorney Ross Sorensen told the council he can find no recorded utility easements for the homes on Eastview Drive where a new sewer line will be installed so residents outside of the city limits can annex into the city and hook up to the system.

Sorensen said a subdivision was platted there in 1956, and Moore Surveying records show 10-foot easements on every lot. But the plat showing the easements was not the one recorded.

As a result, Sorensen has sent a letter to the homeowner asking permission to dig in his yard to access the manhole to connect the other residents.

“I hope out the goodness of his heart he will help his neighbors out,” Sorensen said.

The council did not act on the ordinance that will set out the fees the homeowners will have to pay to connect to the sewer system.

Sludge hauling
The council agreed to allow water department Superintendent Mark LeClair to use both Steve Meuser and Metro-Ag to haul sewer sludge from the sewage-treatment plant to farm fields once the crops are out.

Metro-Ag will charge 39 cents per gallon, and Meuser lowered his price to 37 cents.

Ultimately, more than 750,000 gallons will need to be hauled away.

Other business
Also Monday, the council:

— Heard more details from Ingold about the Paxton Prairie Days Festival set to take place Sept. 21 on several closed blocks of Market Street downtown. The Swine and Dine event, which is part of the celebration, will be a three-class barbecue cook-off. The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce will pay for a bounce house and maze for children’s activities, and the city will pay for porta-potties and three bands scheduled to play through the afternoon and evening. Two bars will have fenced-in outdoor beer drinking areas, and there will be a flea market. All events will end at 10 p.m. Ingold also thanked gardeners Barb Edwards and Joanne Guyot for maintaining the flower beds in Pells Park.

— Gave permission for fundraisers at city intersections for St. Jude’s on Aug. 16-17 and the Paxton Community Nursery School on Aug. 23-24. The council also agreed to the closure of the west side of Market Street, between Center and Pells streets, on Aug. 24 from noon to 6 p.m. for a benefit for Tom Brown. The council also approved the Vineyard Church’s request for a street party Aug. 28 from 6-8 p.m. on State Street east of Market Street.

— Approved a budgeted payment of $6,448 to Overhead Doors Inc. of Ogden for a new door at the city tool shed and approved spending up to $4,500 to fix the siren on the city’s west side and to realign all the city sirens to the required narrow-band radio frequency.

— Learned that the less-than-expected cost of street work by Iroquois Paving Corp. allowed three additional blocks to be completed. The total cost of the asphalt work was $185,369.

— Learned from Ingold that Tom Meents has opened shop in the former Lefebvre Trucking building and that Shields Automart will be adding showroom space. The council also learned from Alderman Rob Steiger that 17 skydivers dove at the city’s airport over the weekend.

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