OK, Council, you said you’d bond out no more than $12 million but now staff is coming at you with a proposal for borrowing $14 million.
It’s not that Peace Road and the fire stations don’t need attention. They do — especially Station 2. But is this really the way to do it? Bundling the police station funding with three other projects ’cause it’s “only” $2 mil more? Because there’d not be much time to examine the fine print on the new proposals.
Let’s start with some fine print about asbestos in Station 2, a 55-year-old building. It is not mentioned in the agenda backup memo. How much of the $180,000 estimate is meant for asbestos removal/remediation? When do we get to find out?
[Change of title, minor reworking completed about 9:40 a.m.]
From the Daily Chronicle yesterday:
DeKALB – Some members of the DeKalb City Council raised concerns Monday about the lack of a basement in the new DeKalb police station.
The issue surfaced while a representative from PSA Dewberry, the architecture firm in charge of designing the $12 million building, as well as a construction manager and city officials, gave the council an update on the building’s design phase.
“The lowest level was the most expensive real estate on the entire project,” [Public Works director T.J.] Moore said. “… We could get everything we absolutely needed to have by giving up something we wanted to have.”
Now that work has begun on the proposed police station site on Lincoln Highway, Northern Illinois University students have become aware what the city intends to build there. Some don’t like it.
The most immediate issue is a station sitting across from the Center for Black Studies and NIU Resources for Women, and in particular the potential for damage to race relations. There are also suspicions about the message inherent in its proximity to the NIU Police HQ, and wider worries about classroom disruptions and safety in a pedestrian-heavy area.
If you watched the November 21 and November 28 city council meetings, you saw NIU students laying out the concerns about PD placement. You also then, unfortunately, have witnessed the city framing this as a matter of aesthetics — that if they build a pretty enough building, this will all go away.
The students have started a petition to relocate the PD site away from the NIU campus: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/move-the-construction-site-away-from-the-niu-students/
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
As predicted in Sunday’s post, suddenly DEKALB’S FIRST RESPONDERS ARE #1 PRIORITY AND OMG WE MUST BUILD THE POLICE STATION RIGHT NOW, according to our city council.
It offends me deeply, because the The NUMBER ONE PRIORITY statement is a BIG LIE. The people who really have made public safety the priority are the folks who have protested new SUVs, serial land acquisitions, and ReNew DeKalb’s insatiable appetite for baubles ever since the first of the budget troubles appeared three-plus years ago.
If first responders were really the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, Council would have insisted one or two of them be hired instead of a central purchasing person and an economic development person/company.
If public safety were really the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, Council would have found a way to squeeze a couple more cops out of the $400,000 freed up from the debt restructuring.
They should knock it off already. The real story is probably some combination of a) the City being shamed by recent events, and b) the banker overlords requiring a new infusion of tax dollars now that the downtown project is winding down. Read the rest of this entry
A special meeting Monday of the DeKalb City Council and the Financial Advisory Committee is set to examine two Municipal Building remodeling/building options with emphases on police station space needs and improved access for people with disabilities.
One of the options presented includes a proposal to sell off city property worth $2.2 million to help finance a renovation and addition.
We don’t know where the rest of the money will come from. Perhaps some bucks have been “freed up” by the debt restructuring. After paying some employees twice for not working and having the General Fund balance dip to $22,000 recently, it’s uncertain whether they can make a solid case for it, though. Read the rest of this entry
I jumped in about 7:30 last night, in the midst of citizens’ comments so the proclamations must have taken a long time! Here’s my assessment of what I saw.
The saddest part, of course, was Council’s approval of almost all of ReNew DeKalb’s wish list. With that they closed the door on the possibility of using TIF funding for the badly-needed police station expansion for the next 10 years; an option that, in light of our poor financial position, we should have held onto.
Also, the city left out something important in its repayment calculations. It’s all well and good to ask whether we can repay the $12 million if EAV within the TIF drops another 5% or 10%, but nobody mentioned what the threshold is for real trouble. Why is a 10% drop the arbitrary worst-case scenario? Is it because we’d hit trouble at 11%? 15%? Holy cow, I can’t believe nobody asked. This is a failure of imagination that could really end up biting us.
The Good Read the rest of this entry
DeKalb City Council members will soon be looking at city-owned real estate, 154 parcels in all, possibly with an eye to selling off some of these assets. But you, Dear CB Reader, do not have to wait for city staff’s compilation to get a sneak peek at the totality. After the jump, I have listed the properties using identifying info found online via the Tax Payment & Assessment Search at dekalbcounty.org. Read the rest of this entry
Is it wrong to prefer a Council meeting without Wogen and Simpson? I’ve decided there’s no immediate need to get rid of Wogen unless he starts showing up again, or if the 3rd Ward wants the mayor to appoint somebody to the spot. And Simpson can take as much time off as he likes unless the 1st puts up a fuss.
In other news, I’ve decided it’s A-OK with me for Council to raise my taxes — as soon as the following conditions are met: Read the rest of this entry