Gibson City to spend money to repair vacant downtown building

GIBSON CITY — City council members mostly agreed Monday night on the question of spending city money to repair a vacant downtown building at 107 N. Sangamon Ave.

The property was the former Loy’s Dime Store building and more recently housed Silver Lion Antiques. It currently has an absentee owner who is not taking care of the property.

The majority of aldermen agreed with Mayor Dan Dickey that doing nothing could ultimately cost the city more if the property became an eyesore and had to be torn down, which might also involve a lengthy legal battle.

Two votes on the issue were 6-1, with Alderwoman Barb Yergler casting the lone “no” vote both times.

“I don’t want to spend money on something that’s not ours,” she said after the meeting.

The rest of the council, however, first voted to allow the mayor to sign a repair agreement with non-local property owner Victor Magano so that council members can make repairs as they see fit.

The second vote approved repairing the roof and covering a missing window for an amount not to exceed $2,500. Superintendent Randy Stauffer said he will contact a local contractor to do the work, assuming the adjacent property owner will agree to allow access.

Dickey admitted the building could cost taxpayers more in the future unless ownership changes.

“Everything will come to council before we spend a penny,” Dickey promised.

In other business, the council approved cost sharing of up to $500 for about 200 feet of drainage pipe on city easement along Nelson Avenue.

The Ford County Housing Authority, which owns apartments in that area north of 13th Street, needs to take care of sump pump drainage. The city will then be able to use the pipe as part of future storm sewer separation projects, Stauffer said.

Two other items that have been on the council’s agenda did not receive action.

A plan by US Cellular to lease space for a communications tower at West Park is off the table due to the sale of the company’s Illinois wireless service to Sprint. A public hearing last Tuesday night on the matter was cancelled for that reason.

In addition, a prior request for an amendment to Phase II plans at Railside Estates subdivision will be tabled “for quite some time,” Dickey announced.
 

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