Archive for the ‘ Plans & Surveys ’ Category

I’ve read the College Town Partners documents that were leaked to the Preserve Our Neighborhoods (PON) group. (Want copies? Send an email to preserveourneighborhoods@gmail.com.)

The agreements, which were never signed, lay out a corporate partnership between City of DeKalb, NIU, a local developer and two banks.

They strike me as kind of nuts, actually, being fraught with conflicts of interest that government bodies could never ignore. Whoever developed them — at this point I’m envisioning somebody’s partially demented but clout-heavy uncle who must be humored — possesses no grasp of the “public” part of public projects.

For example, the agreements place the DeKalb city manager in the position of manager of a self-interested company operating in the same community. They also attempt to make rules for the participation of the government bodies (e.g.: confidentiality, non-compete clause, predetermined developer) but that’s the flip of what’s supposed to happen.

The plans as written didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in sunlight. Still, somebody thought enough of them to stuff 60 pages into an envelope to mail to the PON folks. Why? I think it must be a warning that an awful lot of planning has been going on behind closed doors, and that some of it may not represent the public interest.

Speaking of which, let’s look at the recent naughtiness of your mayor that ties in here. Read the rest of this entry

NIU president Baker and the mayor each spoke to the group, as did NIU vice-president Bill Nicklas and an architect who explained the process involved in the development of the Bold Futures Thesis.

In a nutshell, NIU wants to transform the thesis into a real plan for better use of the physical campus in nurturing a sense of place. It is one of several initiatives they hope will improve enrollment and retention of the hip, urban Millennial Generation.

When audience members expressed concern that the university is also pushing development plans for nearby historic neighborhoods without their input, the NIU representatives seemed genuinely surprised that they’d reached this conclusion. The NIU thesis isn’t a plan yet, they said; and besides, the focus is on the campus center.

Funny. I’d reached the same conclusion that the audience did when I attended the March 15 City of DeKalb strategic planning meeting. There, VP Nicklas shared his top budget priorities that involved the city and my notes show one of them is “Locust Street enhancements.”

So, I think maybe the NIU folks are back-pedaling a little.

However, I also believe the city has hitched its caboose to the NIU train with a little sleight-of-hand. Read the rest of this entry

Traffic Studies

A new police station on Route 38 is in the works, and a proposed expansion of the DeKalb Public Library would involve closing a portion of North Third Street.

Clearly, each of these projects/proposals if built would impact traffic patterns at their respective locations.

Mac McIntyre brought up the need for a traffic study at the police station site a few months ago so I’ve been doing some research into the requirements as time allows.

Communications with the state Department of Transportation have convinced me that it would likely not be possible for the City of DeKalb to obtain a permit for the police station construction without a traffic study. Indeed, ComEd will have to obtain a permit to dig a hole for a pole before it begins utility work at the site.

Additionally, I just found out that the city approved “administratively” a traffic study, now in progress, for the police station site.

All’s well then, right? NO. My reading of the Municipal Code does not allow for an “administrative” decision on traffic studies. The procedure is for the director of Public Works to make a recommendation and for the city council to vote on the recommendation.

I’ve put the applicable section of Chapter 23, Article 7 after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Survey for DeKalb Residents

Have fun with this . . .

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/kayshelton_survey

Taj Mah-Library

[Updated 7/18 with links to more coverage, at bottom.]

Dimensions, features and amenities planned for the new DeKalb Public Library have been lifted from “A Building Program for the DeKalb Public Library,” September 19, 2009. The plan is to build an 89,000 square foot facility that serves 70,000 people, based on projections of 2% growth per year out to 2030. Building and participant details come after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Route 23

There was a transportation meeting at Kishwaukee College on Tuesday. It reminded me of an idea I’d heard and would like to throw out to you.

At the meeting, they remarked that non-local truck traffic was decreasing on Route 38 and holding steady on Route 23 so there is no reason to pursue costly bypasses. Well, there is one road in DeKalb where truck traffic must be increasing and that is Peace Road.

The county maintains Peace Road but building proper roads for heavy truck traffic is much more expensive than for regular roads. Should this perhaps be a job for IDOT? What if the part of Gurler that runs east from 4th to Peace (which eventually will be inhabited by industrial and commercial interests), then Peace Road all the way north to Plank Road in Sycamore, were designated Route 23?

It’s true that the city wants to tackle the South 4th Street revitalization with the help of IDOT, but the other idea clearly has merit as well. I thank M. for bringing it up.

Ethics & Downtown Revitalization

All we know for sure is this: DeKalb Mayor Frank Van Buer cast a vote against Gavin Wilson’s candidacy as 5th Ward alderman. The mayor is now found to have close political relationships with Wilson’s opponent in the race and with the man who challenged Wilson’s ballot petition.

Van Buer’s campaign manager, Don Floyd, says that the mayor did disclose, by way of filing electronically with the Illinois State Board of Elections (btw, the irony has not escaped me). He’s got a point. How is it that the opposition party–in this case the Republicans–didn’t dig up that nugget? How did the Daily Chronicle miss it? As for myself, I didn’t blink or think twice at the time, when Van Buer said “We were advised that that was a mandatory.” That’s ’cause I trusted him.

I assume that when Van Buer sought legal advice, it was from the city attorney. Perhaps he should also have visited with the city manager, who is the designated ethics advisor for the city. That way the mayor’s men maybe wouldn’t have to be engaged right now in a flurry of damage control activity because the ethics of the situation called for recusal. Recusal would have saved the day.

At any rate let’s pursue a big-picture hypothesis brought to the fore by Gavin Wilson:

The Mayor and I were not strangers. He had just recently sent me a letter asking me not to write any more letters to the Chronicle, or it would undo all the things he was trying to accomplish, (for instance, removing the only viable parking in the downtown). I did write more, and I know this was not an action that would endear me to him.

Read the rest of this entry

Council Pre-Watch 7/11/07

This week’s council meetings have been rescheduled for next week after Monday’s rain-out, which turned streets south of Rt. 38, from Second to Seventh, into rivers. (I myself am the sudden owner of lakefront property, which happens whenever there’s a “100-year-flood,” or about every four years.)

I noticed this item in the city manager’s notes for the regular council meeting:

ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A SPECIAL SERVICE AREA NUMBER TWELVE (DEKALB BUSINESS CENTER PLANNED DEVELOPMENT) IN THE CITY OF DEKALB, ILLINOIS AND PROVIDING FOR A PUBLIC HEARING AND OTHER PROCEDURES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH. A Public Hearing needs to be held in order to consider establishing a Special Service Area for the property located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Gurler Road and Illinois Route 23, commonly known as DeKalb Business Center. This property was annexed into the City on December 11, 2006. The Annexation Agreement provided for the creation of an Owners Association, which will be responsible for maintenance of the common areas and storm water retention areas. The Special Service Area would only be activated in the event that the Owners Association fails to provide the required maintenance. Read the rest of this entry

While I’m not inclined to take back all of my impressions described in the first “Parking Thing,” the fact is that I made some assumptions that turned out not to be true, the biggest and wrongest being the belief that the downtown merchants had been well represented on the revitalization task force. In fact, they have been shockingly under-represented. There is nothing bizarre about opposing the location of the town square across from your business when you weren’t consulted in the first place. My bad.

The Parking Thing

If you click here you’ll go to an archives listing of letters to the editor regarding the “parking thing.” Here’s the latest from The Confectionary owner Tom Smith, in a response to another person’s support for using half the parking lot at North Second and Locust for a town square :

2. He states that only 20-25 parking spaces would be eliminated from the 1,100 spaces in the plan area. This is misleading. The lot has 52 spaces, plus two handicapped ones. That is half the lot that would be eliminated. There is already a perception of a lack of parking. To eliminate half the lot for 365 days a year would heighten that perception.

Actually, it’s Mr. Smith who is misleading people. Why does he keep leaving out the part about the parking being replaced? Every single one of the two dozen parking slots will be recovered when they change the Locust Street parking from parallel to angled, which reportedly will be done first. Nobody will have to walk any farther than they do now. Read the rest of this entry