Council passes parking changes, discusses budget

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKALB — DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery proposed the Safe Street Initiative during a Monday city council meeting; alderpersons approved the first phase of the plan.

The initiative is a four-phase plan to reduce parking traffic in some of the areas in the city that have had a spike in gun violence over the past few months and establish safe routes in areas with high foot traffic.

“We know that part of the social habits and mobility habits of a large percentage of our young folks in that northwest quadrant of the city involves traveling on foot to and from the Greek row area and other high-density student areas north of campus and back,” Lowery said.

The area with high pedestrian traffic will also have more police patrols and lighting improvements.

Phase one of the initiative prohibits parking on the north side of Crane Drive, with the south side restricting parked vehicles from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The three short streets east of Russell Drive would allow permit-holding residents to park on the south side, and Charles Street and High Terrace would be open to permitted residents.

“Phase one is really targeted to address specific crime problems we’ve had along Russell and Crane that ‘T’ up into Greenbrier,” Lowery said during the meeting.

For residents to apply for the $25 yearly parking permit, they must provide their driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration, as well as proof of residence on one of the streets being affected.

Phase two to Phase four will be implemented at a later time. Lowery said he would like to have the remaining phases implemented by August.

Phase two will implement resident parking between Normal Road and Pickwick Lane, the area between the Kishwaukee River and W Lincoln Highway and a small section between Grant Drive and Varsity Boulevard.

The third phase will ban parking between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. west of Annie Glidden Road, and the fourth phase will restrict parking during the same hours on the east side of Annie Glidden.

Lowery said most urban areas have parking restrictions that are implemented to enhance public safety and believes his time spent at a larger municipality that had a 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. parking ban demonstrated the affect.

“It was felt to be key in enhancing public safety, especially for problems that occurred that time,” Lowery said. “I don’t think there’s a law enforcement officer who wouldn’t agree with that.”

Alderpersons postpone vote on budget proposal

DeKalb’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 has been put on hold.

Seventh Ward Alderperson Mike Verbic was the sole vote against postponing the vote to approve the first reading of the budget, which would have raised the home sale tax by 1 percent, until Dec. 11.

The proposed tax increase would serve as additional funding used for the city’s streets and vehicles owned by the city.

First Ward Alderperson David Jacobsen said the reductions being proposed are not enough to cover the city’s expenses, which he said have been mismanaged in the past. Jacobsen said services offered by the city would have to be cut without the implementation of a 1 percent sales tax increase. He also said without the tax, the city would be unable to hire three more police officers.

“If you don’t want 1 percent, then you have no road funding,” Jacobsen said. “Then you don’t hire these three police officers.”

Residents who attended the meeting applauded when Jacobsen suggested the city should undergo major reorganization and staff reductions by 20 to 30 percent.

Other concerns about service reductions were voiced by Lynnea Erickson-Laskowski, Safe Passage Prevention and Communication director.

Erickson-Laskowski asked council members to consider if they were representing all residents — those who are homeless, victims of violence and children in need — when considering a budget that includes social service providers funding reductions.

“I would ask the council to consider whether DeKalb, and whether DeKalb City Council, is only for the wealthy and well-connected,” Erickson-Laskowski said.