Council approves $5k to Main Street for summer concerts, golf cart for JPD, commission appointees

By Benjamin Cox on May 14, 2019 at 4:08pm

Property, a golf cart, and sponsoring a popular concert series were the talk of the City Council Chambers last night. The Jacksonville City Council had a lot of new business involving property around the city and approved money for purchases and sponsorship at the first meeting with the council’s newest members fully seated.

City Attorney Dan Beard announced the acquisition of the property located at 221 East Morgan Street. Demolition of 2 buildings in the 200 block of East Morgan had begun earlier in the week. The property is formerly owned by U.S. Bank, who closed their branch there in 2009 and have told the city that they’re no longer in need of the space. The 221 address is mostly used as a public parking lot currently, but now will fall under the city’s full ownership and upkeep

The Public Protection Committee then announced that will be waving bids for the purpose of a gas powered golf cart for the city police department. The item will find its purchase money from seized drug money funds, thus coming at no cost to local taxpayers.

Chief Adam Mefford details what the golf cart will be used for by the department.

“It’s more maneuverable downtown so we can patrol the plaza area with it in the parking lots on Friday and Saturday nights when the bars let out. Typically, we do that on foot and with squad cars. Sometimes, we need to move quickly from place to place, and going back to a car or walking on foot might take too much time, so the golf cart can be utilized to expedite that response time. Also, with the new golf cart path, we will use it for lake patrol. There has been some concern regarding safety of pedestrians and bicyclists on the path. We want to be able to establish a presence on the path, which can act as a visual deterrent for unsafe practices. We’ll also use it for community oriented policing and special events, including the Morgan County fair. With the lighting system that will be in place on it, we will be able to use it as a traffic control device at the fair, freeing up a squad car that may be needed elsewhere in the community.”

The council approved the city’s 3rd consecutive sponsorship of the Downtown Concert Series with $5,000 going to Jacksonville Main Street. Mayor Andy Ezard explains why the city continues to be a part of the series.

“Part of the deal when we went and got the initial grants for the concert series was events, and we’re a strong partner with Main Street. We see that this concert series brings in a lot of people to our town on a Friday night, and it’s only natural that we support this because it’s on our turf.”

Mayor Ezard also went on to have multiple committee appointments approved by the council for the evening. The mayor urged the council to reach out to community members to fill some of the still-vacant seats on multiple commissions at the city.

“If people want to get involved in government, be on a city commission or a committee, I would love to hear from you. We’re always looking for good people that want to serve. We do have vacancies here and there, though not many at the moment because we’ve been actively filling the seats recently. But if you want to call my office and tell me you want to serve, these aren’t paid positions on these commissions, but we’re definitely trying to find people in Jacksonville that may be able to fit a certain niche to serve the city.”

In other business, due to the Jacksonville planning and zoning commission just meeting a week ago, the council passed an Emergency Clause for amending the Jacksonville Zoning Map for a property located in the 600 block of West State Street. Hometown Veterinary Clinic will be relocating from their current spot on East College Avenue to the property. They asked for the rezoning ordinance to be passed by the council so they can begin renovation of the project immediately.