The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Council wants to restore Harrisburg Lake

  • Harrisburg City Council plans to return Harrisburg Lake to the beauty spot it once was with an effort to enforce ordinances that have been largely ignored in recent years.
    • email print
  • Harrisburg City Council plans to return Harrisburg Lake to the beauty spot it once was with an effort to enforce ordinances that have been largely ignored in recent years.
    Public Properties Commissioner Dale Fowler is tackling the clean up effort.
    "I toured Harrisburg Lake and it's definitely a diamond in the rough. It's a beautiful spot and it can be a beautiful spot," Fowler said.
    The lease agreement states lessees are to keep up their dwellings and that stays there are supposed to be of a temporary nature.
    "Some lots it seems obvious to me have not been utilized in some time," Fowler said.
    Several cabins — estimated at 10 to 15 — seem to have been abandoned. Some are filled with garbage and have broken windows.
    Some residents — half by Commissioner John McPeek's estimation — seem to be living at the lake full time which is in violation of the lease.
    "We need to really start overseeing who's renting properties," Fowler said.
    The leases must be renewed every three years.
    Mayor Ron Crank suggested sending city police to Harrisburg Lake to write tickets for ordinance violations, get violators in court and collect fines. He also proposed looking into rewriting the ordinance to allow only camping trailers be permitted.
    Street Superintendent Rick Brown said sending renters a copy of the city's ordinance should be the first step.
    Council agreed the recreation area should be a priority.
    "It's really, really nice out there. It's just a shame we've let some people live out there who have absolutely ruined it," Commissioner John McPeek said.
    Brick streets
    Brick streets have been a contentious issue over the years with some residents complaining about the bumpy surfaces while others like their historic charm.
    Crank said some streets, though, are simply too costly to maintain as brick. City crews recently had to dig a hole across North Webster Street and the city ordinance regarding brick street calls for it to be repaired with brick.
    "It's going to cost $17,000 to put the bricks back," Crank said.
    "I make a motion to change the ordinance to use either concrete or asphalt over the patches we have to do on brick streets."
    Commissioner Ron Fearheiley said brick streets also cause a problem for city snow trucks that sometimes dislodge bricks.
    Commissioner Bart Schiff cautioned that many residents are fans of the streets.
    "A lady was driving through from Canada and she liked the brick streets. That's why she moved here," Schiff said, adding he lives on a brick street and is not personally a fan of the rough driving surface.
    Crank said at the time the brick street ordinance was enacted the city had more money available for such niceties. Water Superintendent Kelly Hefner said the city exclusively uses concrete now instead of asphalt for patching street surfaces and Crank amended his motion to allow only concrete be used to patch brick streets.
    Page 2 of 3 - Downtown TIF
    Council formally approved a motion to proceed with the Harrisburg Downtown Tax Increment Finance District and approved the TIF plan. The intent is to beautify the downtown, attract business to the downtown and to attract businesses along the state Route 13 bypass.
    A TIF district last for 23 years. It caps property tax at the current level and offers tax incentives for existing businesses to improve or new businesses to build which increases property value. The city uses the increment between the starting property tax amount and the increased property tax amount for infrastructure improvements. Street lighting, sidewalks and parking lot paving are three priorities of council for the downtown.
    Keith Moran, president of Moran Economic Development, said his company's eligibility study found the downtown meets several of the three criteria needed for being included in a TIF district: Age of structures with 50 percent or more being 35 years old or greater, obsolescence, deteriorated conditions in 528 of the 626 structures in the area and in 423 of 480 structures in the developed area, excessive vacancies with 51 examples of buildings being vacant, inadequate utilities, deleterious land use or layout, excessive land coverage and overcrowding of structures and lack of community planning.
    Moran said the TIF's budget is $19.2 million.
    "I would hope you guys can generate $19.2 million over its 23-year lifespan. I doubt you will get that, but hope you get that," Moran said.
    He said it is better to overshoot in creating a budget amount because to exceed the budgeted amount requires more procedure.
    "We took the approach that once the things in we don't have to touch it again in 23 years," Moran said.
    Approval of the TIF plan sets into motion a notification procedure for taxing bodies affected and will set a meeting with those bodies in October.
    Council approved Brown and Roberts for TIF related engineering work.
    During the meeting:
    Hefner said residents should not be alarmed to see city crews opening water hydrants at odd hours. He said crews are doing hydrant flushing at later hours so that peak water usage hours are not terribly disrupted. Flushing can create brownish water that can stain clothing. Hefner said residents can test by running cold water and if it comes out of the faucet brown, to run it three of four minutes to clear before using hot water.
    Safety Officer Bill Ghent presented a Safety Program of trainings for each department. Crank said he asked Ghent to put the program together in an attempt to lessen the cost of worker's compensation claims.
    Council approved a settlement agreement with Raleigh Water District that has been an ongoing litigation issue discussed in closed session for months.
    Approved advertising for bids on a piece of property on the city's bike path right of way north of Locust Street. The property is 30 feet wide and a business is interested in building there if it can buy that property. Commissioners indicated advertising for bids was a formality, that the bid requires construction of a property to begin within 90 days and that if there are multiple bidders commissioners are not bound to approve the highest bid.
    Page 3 of 3 - Hefner said the new automated water meters should be in Sept. 19 and installation should begin Oct. 1.
Terms of Service

    Events Calendar