“Our now empty Municipal Building, the square block that was carefully planned for future use by previous Councils that cost money over the years to purchase houses and clear is now being “discussed” by Council. Why wasn’t there a thorough public vetting of what to do with the Municipal Building where ideas could have been shared in detail? It seems as if this was a “done deal” from the start and pretending to hear proposals at this point is an insult to the taxpayers. The City Manager is pushing for the apartment complex and the Council has looked at this situation only once.
There are three proposals before Council regarding our Municipal Building………one proposal is to retain the building and build some townhouses, one to tear down and build affordable houses, one is to tear down and put up an apartment complex.
Council is being told that this square block should be put on the tax rolls so it can generate revenue. The new arrangement of a split City Hall is likely not going to work for long and I predict that there will be a push to build a new City Hall. There were many citizens who predicted that there would be a push for an apartment complex…they were right. Currently our “City Hall” is located in the old Nehring Building in downtown and our Council meetings are held in the Library…a rather awkward way for local government to operate. The reasoning was to get more foot traffic downtown, put a square block on the tax rolls, scale down since less space is needed.
What’s wrong with examining the possibility of using our building as a government center for other entities to share office space and the Council Chambers that could be used for public meetings, complete with televising capabilities for City, School Board, Park District, and even a Public Access facility. Some space could be used for businesses to bring in revenue. There is plenty of parking to accommodate workers and visitors who could also be part of the foot traffic for downtown which is a block away. Does the Municipal Building need remodeling/repairs? Yes. We should use what we have, pull together the governmental entries to share facilities and save tax dollars.
The council needs to discuss these details and look into the future. The proposals for more houses is worth studying…perhaps for other parts of the city. This issue involves TIF dollars that have been wrongly used and this should be cleared before using. Think about working with other entities, think about housing needs, think about yet one more apartment complex, and think about how the decision to move our “City Hall” without public input was wrong. City Council….please THINK.”
Respectfully, Bessie Chronopoulos. Former Mayor-DeKalb, IL
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