SAVANNA – The Savanna City Council voted to proceed with two different grant applications that would help finance an acquisition and demolition project for up to twenty properties ravaged by the catastrophic flood events of recent years, at the September 10, 2013 meeting of the Council at 333 Chicago Avenue in Savanna.
The meeting was attended by Council members Bill Robinson, Ray Skiles, Peg Haffey, Jeff Griswold, Lisa Robinson and Gary Scott Law, with Merle Long and Christine Lee absent. Also in attendance were Mayor Tony McCombie, City Clerk Paul Hartman, City Attorney Phil Jensen, and department heads Sheryl Sipe, Michael Moon, Shawn Picolotti and John Lindeman.
Committee Report Highlights
Hotel/Motel Committee Chairperson Peg Haffey opened the meeting with highlights from the most recent meeting of that committee. She noted some pertinent dates, including November 10th for the annual Shop Hop event, as well as the next “Junk in the Trunk” event on September 28th, and business after hours on October 1st at the RIA.
Finance Committee Chair Bill Robinson was up next, and detailed agenda items from the most recent Finance meeting. He noted that a decision should be made regarding the City’s phone service package by the end of the week. He also commented that in terms of the City budget, things seem to be “going along pretty good.” The committee also recommended not to proceed with the demolition of the existing sewer plant due to the stipulation that if FEMA money was used to cover this project, nothing could ever be built on that site again.
Robinson also made a point to report what type of savings the new phone service should yield for the City, cutting the City’s current bill less than half, from about $700.00 to about $342.00.
Warrant #5, bills for the month of August, totaling $185,142.52 was fully approved.
One committee change was approved, with Haffey taking over for Griswold on the Contracts and Lease/Collective Bargaining Committee, due to some meeting schedule conflicts.
Ordinance #2060, redefining “bed and breakfast” designations, was read in its second reading and approved by the full Council.
McCombie then elaborated on the Floodplain Residential Property Acquisition/Demolition Project, telling the Council that former mayor Stebbins had been working on a project addressing the homes that had been damaged by the major flooding events of the past several years.
To clarify what the plan was, she met with the Corps of Engineers as well as Sharon Pepin of Community Funding and Planning Services and also representatives of Carroll County and FEMA addressing the situation with these 20 homes in Savanna. The properties’ pre-flood value was assessed earlier, as well as the cost of acquisition and demolition. A “pre-application” was submitted and now a full application was necessary to complete this project, with one issue coming forth; the full project cost is about $600,000.00 with the City needing to come with 25 percent of this for the match.
Pepin was able to secure this match, and now the City has access to both an initial and a matching grant. The cost of the FEMA HMGP application is $6,800.00 wit 50 percent paid after the contract has been executed, and the remaining 50 percent upon completion and submittal of the HMGP application.
The DCEO CDAP set-aside grant application fee is $3,500.00, half to be invoiced once the grant application has been submitted, and the second half when the grant is awarded. McCombie noted that the total cost would be a bit over $10,000.00, with $21,000.00 set aside for this. She also said it wasn’t known at this time how many of the 20 property owners would be taking advantage of the project, so the cost might well be lower than the projected $600,000.00.
The mayor said she felt that it would be incumbent upon the City to go ahead with the project and help give closure of some kind to those affected, while the City had the match.
The areas affected are, among others, Oak, Ontario, Erie, Calumet, Portland, and Pike Road.
Ms. Robinson wanted to know how this will affect Savanna as a whole and McCombie said it won’t, but it will affect these people as individuals.
Mr. Robinson motioned to proceed with the two grant applications and the Council unanimously agreed.
The Council read and approved an ordinance to establish an enterprise zone within Whiteside and Carroll Counties, to renovate an old strip mall area along East Lincolnway in Sterling. It also approved resolution (#1056) to authorize the temporary closure of roads within Savanna (3rd, South, Division and Main) for the Homecoming Parade on October 3rd of this year between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.
It also approved sending McCombie as the City’s representative to attend the 2013 Illinois Municipal League Conference in Chicago.
Save the Pool!
A citizen addressed the Council, urging them to financially support the continued operations of the Savanna Swimming Pool.
“I think this would be a catastrophe for the City,” he said, adding that he knows of an entity in Rock Valley that is very interested in using the pool for a physical therapy program. He noted with support from the City and other groups, including businesses, the Park Board might be able to afford to keep the pool running.
McCombie said that she felt the Park Board would need to come to the City with a request for help before they could proceed any further. She agreed that the issue came down to money. Law said he’d attended Park Board meetings and that they were in the process of trying to see what each of their areas cost separately, and determine exactly how much money the pool would require to continue. Given his rough calculations, Law seemed to indicate that the park currently operated at about a $20,000.00 a year loss, though that number might change once the Board investigated their finances more.
Moon said that crosswalk enforcement would be stepped up this week and that no warnings would be given. Lindeman said that the water meter replacement program was moving along with the candidates being narrowed down to one at this point and that he felt he’d be able to present something for the Council to vote on soon.
McCombie said that the fund raising project for the Historical Society’s elevator project continues and that if anyone donates five dollars to the project she would personally match them and that if any corporations wanted to donate $500.00 she and her husband would match that amount as well. She also reported that attempts are being made to change the Savanna Times Theater into a community theater. She noted that on December 30th a blood drive will be held, put on by the Chamber and the Presbyterian Church.