City votes down ordinance to vacate alley behind West Morgan Depot

By Gary Scott on October 24, 2017 at 7:15am

The Jacksonville City Council voted down an ordinance to vacate an un-named alley just south of West Morgan Depot last night.

Ultimately the vote came back 7-3 against passing the ordinance, with aldermen Bill Scott, Lori Large-Oldenettel, Jeff Hopkins, Marcy Patterson, Mike Wankel, Steve Warmowski and Tony Williams all submitting “no” votes.

Large-Oldenettel voiced her concerns prior to the vote, one of which dealt with potential driving restrictions she felt might come as a result.

“What they were requesting, as I understand it, originally it would’ve been twenty feet off the back of the building, but as we learned tonight, they can only do ten feet off the building. So it would be expanding the back of their beer garden ten feet into the alley, which would restrict people from driving through, especially large trucks that would have to make deliveries to any of those buildings,” says Large-Oldenettel.

Alderman Bill Scott said he conferred with Large-Oldenettel on the matter, and expressed concern about a possible domino effect taking place if the council had allowed the alley to be vacated. Large-Oldenettel says there are more than just a few concerns, particularly in terms of downtown parking.

“I don’t think that we should vacate an alley when people are still using the back of those buildings for trash pick-up or distributing things to the back of those buildings. We would limit access to those, we would limit access for people to drive through, we would eliminate three parking spaces by closing that alley down, because we would have to create another way to get in, and we’ve talked time and time again that eliminating parking spaces is not something we want to do, we want to create more parking downtown,” explains Large-Oldenettel.

Large-Oldenettel also mentioned that there have also been issues regarding drivers illegally blocking off that portion of the alley. However, since the alley is currently without any signs informing driver of the rules, the council hopes to take steps to combat that issue.

In other action from last night’s meeting, aldermen passed an ordinance to rezone property at 2170 East Morton Avenue, where Ameren will begin construction on a new substation. Though the council voted “yes,” it did so with reluctance from several aldermen who expressed their concerns regarding the location of the substation being near the main entrance to the city.

With Ameren Representatives on hand, Alderman Mike Wankel asked that the electric company do whatever is possible to help beautify the site, with the idea being that the substation will be one of the first things people see as they enter Jacksonville.

In regards to the resolution to extend a water main to Country Club Road, that issue was tabled last night. The council stated that they would consider specific claims from homeowners present at the meeting, as well as look closer at whether or not the city could be considered liable for what the homeowners say are elevated lead levels in their well water that they claim was the result of the city’s dredging of Lake Mauvaisterre several years ago.