City has to scale back sidewalk improvements

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Two weeks after the Vandalia City Council OK’d the startup of a sidewalk replacement program, city officials learned that their eyes were bigger than their pocketbook.

With Mayor Rick Gottman reporting that the city had included $25,000 in its budget for sidewalk replacement, the council voted on July 22 to solicit bids for improvements in 22 areas of town.

But the council learned on Monday night that the $25,000 would not go as far as earlier hoped.

Gottman said that he and Public Works Director John Moyer had come up with repairs totaling 13,188 square feet.

The city received six bids for the sidewalk replacements, and the cost on the lowest of those was $4.50 per square foot, submitted by Moore’s Inc. of St. Elmo. At that rate, it would cost the city $66,960 for all of the planned repairs.

In light of that, Gottman said, the city will have to take a closer look at those areas warranting sidewalk replacement.

The mayor said he has asked Moyer to review the list of proposed replacements and prioritize those, picking those areas where repairs are most-needed.

Alderman Chad Feldpouch questioned why the cost estimates on the bids varied, and Moyer explained that some of the bidders went into more detail than required, and in those cases, the bidders’ estimates were higher than that submitted by Moore.

Also at the meeting:

• After meeting in closed session for just a few minutes, the council voted unanimously to turn down an offer to purchase the building on Veterans Avenue currently used by Orgill Inc.

According to a letter from Orgill officials, the company was offering to sell to the city 19.5 acres, including the 440,000-square-foot warehouse facility, for $3.5 million, which they said is about 50 percent below the current appraised value of the property.

Orgill is in the process of relocating its operations in Vandalia and Memphis to a new facility in Missouri.

• The council approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake Lot No. 131 from Reynold Carroll of Vandalia to Jimmy and Karen Warren of rural Ramsey.

• The council approved the final plat for the Fillmore Subdivision, as recommended unanimously by the Vandalia Planning Commission. Jason and Dina Luster’s subdivision is located on Fillmore Street between Sunset Car Wash and Brookstone Estates.

In that subdivision, FAYCO Enterprises plans to build a group home.

• The council approved lease enhancement with AT&T Wireless (Cingular Wireless) for a tower in the 2000 block of North Eighth Street. The lease includes a one-time payment of $1,000 to the city.

The lease enhancement covers the placement of a tower within the area designated for its placement.

• The council approved the prohibition of parking on the west side of Rock Island Avenue between Jackson and Fillmore streets.

City Administrator Jimmy Morani explained that the Family Y of Fayette County will be Miller Field in that area of Rock Island Avenue for activities, and that it does not want families parking on the west side and crossing traffic to get to the field.

• The council approved two ordinances related to the rehabilitation of The Depot.

The council OK’d increasing the number of Class E liquor licenses from six to seven, and also approved the replacement of a lease agreement between the city and Michael Mabry with one between the city and the John Truitt family for property in the former Illinois Central Gulf Railroad right of way.

The Truitt family is purchasing the property from Mabry and his mother, Debra Hamel, and renovating The Depot.

• The council observed a moment of silence for Ardin Brandt, a former village president in St. Peter and the husband of retired county clerk and recorder Isabelle B. Brandt.

• Vandalia Director of Economic Development and Tourism JoAnn Givens reported that she “continues to get good reports” from Motown Technology & Sports Facility Inc. on its plans to build a $300-million sports and entertainment facility here.

Givens said Motown has chosen a contractor for the project, and that Motown officials “haven’t been concerned about” their ability to obtain financing for the project. Under an agreement with the city, Motown has until October to present proof of funding, though that is a negotiable deadline, Givens said.

• Members of Boy Scout Troop No. 401 and their Scoutmaster, Mark Abendroth, attended the meeting to thank city officials and local contractor Andy Craig for repairing the road to the Boy Scout camp on the west side of Vandalia Lake.

Abendroth said Scouts will begin clearing brushes and otherwise cleaning up the property, and that they will have city officials out there for a cookout in the near future.