City Council recap: race track fined, two Public Works items move forward

By Gary Scott on April 26, 2016 at 7:21am

Jim Burke of Hutchison Engineering discusses placing a stop sign at Independence Avenue with Jacksonville aldermen.

Another fine is being levied against the organizers of the Jacksonville Raceway for violating a noise ordinance.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard announced during last night’s City Council meeting the $200 fine is because the Raceway’s most recent event from last Friday apparently went past the 11 p.m. deadline for when races are supposed to finish, prompting complaints from nearby neighbors.

This is the second fine the city has levied since the end of last season.

“There’s things that happen during races that’s out of their control. They’re very good factors as far as bringing people into Jacksonville, and economic development, and restaurants and gas, and just good will. They do a lot of good things for the community- actually, they did a 50-50 for Coach Bill Poole’s family- but, things happen during a race. And, we all understand it,” says Ezard.

“But, you know, residents get mad, and respectfully, we understand that. And, so I had to levy a fine against the race track.”

Ezard got verbal permission from aldermen to allow the speedway to run races up to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4th. On weekdays, city ordinance is supposed to cut off any racing past 6 p.m., but on that date, Ezard notes the “World of Outlaws” racing event is returning to the city.

City Council allowed the same weekday relaxing of rules two years ago when the “Outlaws” came to town. Alderman Steve Warmowski asked if a “city holiday” needs to be created in the future to put the ordinance exception in writing. City Attorney Dan Beard indicated he’d look into the matter.

Several other aldermen chimed in on the issue last night.

Tony Williams noted it’s not often the raceway goes past its 11 p.m. curfew and asked if the fine could be waived. Marcy Patterson said track owner Kenny Dobson actually requested a fine for last Friday’s transgression to avoid claims of favoritism from the city.

There were two items that came out of a Planning and Public Works Committee meeting prior to last night’s regular meeting.

Aldermen gave the go-ahead for a four-way stop sign to be put up on Independence Avenue near Lincoln Elementary School. Committee chair Bill Scott says that’ll replace the regular stop sign already there. The four-way is being requested by District 117 in relation to renovations taking place at the school.

“We have more kids crossing the street. And the way it is set up now, it’s in the middle of the street, right in front of Case Avenue, and they want to do it at each end of the street,” says Scott.

“So, it’ll be at West Street, there will be a crosswalk and a stop sign. So, when you’re driving down Independence, some time in the future you’ll probably have to stop there once the stop sign’s in place.”

Aldermen also said “yes” to having a study done regarding West Douglas Avenue. West Douglas is the only brick street left in Jacksonville, and Alderman Travis Richardson fielded complaints during a survey last October regarding flat tires and broken axles on vehicles.

The survey by Richardson showed most residents wanted to keep the brick street, although two residents in attendance last night said they wanted the street overlaid.

Richardson called last night’s action a good starting point with this issue.

“There’s two options at this point. Option one, replace the current bricks and redo the storm sewers underneath, which is the more expensive costs. And obviously, the state is low on funding, so that would be an option that would probably not be completed anywhere in the near future. It’s probably going to cost upwards of close to $2 million,” Richardson explains.

“Option two that was laid out, was to do an overlay of a cold mix of approximately $200,000, maybe a little more. So, that’s just the starting point.”

Aldermen will formally vote on whether to approve the study at the next City Council meeting. There will also be public hearings, possibly in the summer.

In other meeting action, Mike Halsne was reappointed to the Firemen’s Pension Fund Board of Trustees, while Kevin Heitz was reappointed to the Policemen’s Pension Board. Aldermen authorized the renewal of a five-year agreement with the Jacksonville Soccer Association.