DeKalb moves forward with the city manager search

Sam Malone

Monday, City Council discussed several items of importance, including the progress of the Annie Glidden North Revitalization and other infrastructure updates as well as community involvement.

 

Annie Glidden North Revitalization

City Council discussed the progress of the Annie Glidden North Revitalization, which included the release of the project’s draft plan to corresponding committees and subcommittees.

The revitalization project, which consists of four phases, is moving forward steadily with first ward alderperson David Jacobson and second ward alderperson Bill Finucane serving as liaisons to the council board.

Jacobson delivered the progress update at Monday’s meeting and said the revitalization committee would reconvene Sept. 12 to discuss the next steps. At this date, the committee will come together as a full task force to go over recommendations presented that have not yet been finalized.

“I’m excited that obviously, now come September, we will have some real direction coming from the task force,” Jacobson said. “It’ll be the culmination of over a year of work on their part to get through the reports and get through the individual subcommittees’ recommendations to come up with a plan of action for the council to act upon.”

Following the September meeting, the committee would move forward by beginning to implement phases of the project. Jacobson said these changes aim to provide directional changes to the targeted neighborhoods based upon their needs.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a big heads up to Aaron Stevens from our staff who has worked very, very closely with others on this, and we have a number of subcommittees that did a fine job,” Mayor Jerry Smith said. 

 

 

Emergency Services Agreement at NIU

The council unanimously approved changes to the agreement between NIU and the DeKalb Fire Department, which provides emergency medical services, resulting in a 163 percent cost increase.  

The agreement, which DeKalb Fire Chief Eric Hicks said has been in effect for roughly 20 years, is usually a two-year agreement but was adjusted to one and a half years to meet with the current budget cycle. It provides medical services to events at the Convocation Center, Huskie Stadium and the Barsema Visitor Center.

The previous agreement rates ranged between $38 per hour for a one-person event to $76 per hour for an event staffed with two paramedics and an ambulance. Under the new pricing structure agreement, a one-person event will be $100 per hour and an ambulance staffed with two paramedics will be $200 per hour.

“That’s a 163 percent increase,” Hick said. “This is the largest increase probably that we’ve ever had in the history of this agreement.”

Hicks said there were minor adjustments to the event profiles, which will determine the amount of staffing necessary for each event. He said the profiles were updated with staffing efficiency in mind.

“I believe this is an agreement that protects the residents of DeKalb and the visitors, so I strongly support that and recommend [the council does] also,” Hicks said.

New video gambling establishment

After amending a proposal for a new liquor and video gambling establishment, the council waived the second reading and approved the special use permit for Maisy’s, which will be located at 850-852 S. Fourth Street.

The proposal was brought to the board by principal planner, Dan Olsen, who spoke on behalf of the applicant, Brad Coppens. The first public hearing for the building took place July 5 when the planning and zoning committee began the discussion.

After agreeing to several new circumstances, the proposal was brought to the council. Among these circumstances was the agreement not to sell alcohol until 10 a.m. and to limit Maisy’s outside advertising.

“The only signs I would put up would be for the grand opening,” Coppens said. “The people that use these places know where they are, so they don’t need to be told.”

Before the council voted, former mayor Bessie Chronopoulis spoke about her concerns for the location of the proposed business. While the building does meet all state requirements, Chronopoulis said she is worried the location is too close to the schools and learning center that are only blocks away.

Chronopoulis said she would urge the council not to brush past the reading and said they should consider concerns brought forth by the two members of the planning and zoning committee that voted against the proposal.

“[The space] is an entryway into the city, and this is not what I had in mind as an enhancement for that particular area,” Chronopoulis said. “I understand the economic constraints and the desire to fill the space, but this is not a good fit for the area.”

While members of the council such as second ward alderperson Bill Finucane, fifth ward alderperson Kate Noreiko and seventh ward alderperson Anthony Faivre agreed with Chronopoulis’ concerns, they also said it was imperative to operate under the law. Noreiko, who lives near the area in question, said she dislikes the idea of having a video gambling establishment there, but would vote for the approval in hopes of economic development.

“I think the applicant complied with regulations [and] went above and beyond in terms of restricting the liquor sales,” Noreiko said. “I’m not thrilled about this project, but in all good conscious I can’t vote against it.”

Fourth ward alderperson Patrick Fagan said he is concerned primarily about the possible signage of the establishment, a conversation that brought a bigger issue to the table. He addressed concerns for excessive signage with verbage on gambling and alcohol, proposing an amendment to limit such signs. While the council debated this issue, Coppens willingly agreed to the amendment.

“Maybe, just maybe, the discussion tonight has indicated that we need further discussion on our signage ordinances,” Smith said.