City Council recap: Big grant for water plant, art center lease details unveiled

By Gary Scott on June 23, 2015 at 8:28am

City aldermen got details on how Jacksonville can save some big money for the soon-to-be-built new water treatment plant last night.

Jamie Headen of Benton and Associates told City Council about a “Disaster Recovery-Public Infrastructure Grant” being made available through the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity. It’s for communities that experienced flooding events from 2011 to 2013.

Headen said the city could receive a million dollars to go towards the $31-million plant based on the Flood of 2011.

“There’s a cautious optimism on the potential for the city to receive an award. They meet all the requirements and they meet the needs for the project and satisfy the intent of the funds that are becoming available, so we feel the city’s in pretty good shape,” says Headen.

“But, they need to submit their application as timely as possible and let [DCEO] take a look at it, and hopefully it’ll end up being a great award for the city.”

The current water plant was rendered in operable for nearly a month following the 2011 flooding.

Headen adds the program could be used by the city again in the future.

“The grant application would be specifically for the water plant project because the funding need is so great and specifically meets the program requirements for those funds,” he explains.

“The program in general is also available for other needs such as roads, storm sewers and bridges, and things that might have been damaged that are infrastructure during those years that they indicated.”

Aldermen are tentatively scheduled to hold a special meeting next Wednesday to approve the application process.

City Attorney Dan Beard brought to the council’s attention new details on a possible agreement to lease property near downtown for a future building for the Jacksonville Center for the Arts.

Aldermen gave the city the green light to proceed, which now means a notice of intent to enter into the lease will be published.

Beard says the Art Association needs to meet benchmark goals for fundraising of a million dollars over the next three years, and then could take possession of the property to begin construction.

“At this stage, it would be a long-term lease. If they should give up their lease, the improvements stay there, and it would come back to the city. We don’t anticipate that would ever happen,” says Beard.

“The city will continue to use the property until the theatre group is ready to take it over. We have no other plans than parking for it at this stage.”

Alderwoman Marcy Patterson brought up a concern of parking. Dr. Susan Weller of the Art Association pointed out that many of the municipal lots that are used during the day would be available at night, when the arts center would be in use. It was also mentioned that shuttles could be employed.

A presentation was made last night on the 2014 audit. Aldermen were told the city has a cash reserve of about five months, which is within the recommended three-to-six-month period. They were also told the city is bringing in more money than it’s spending. We’ll have more details on that story this afternoon.

Aldermen approved the sale of five forfeited vehicles seized by the Jacksonville Police Department and the purchase of ten new tasers by the JPD.