City asks that two blocks of Gallatin be opened up

Despite the fact that work on the downtown enhancement project has been halted by the weather, it remains months ahead of schedule.

But that’s no comfort to the merchants in the two blocks of Gallatin Street where the finished roadway remains closed to traffic.

Prior to Monday’s city council meeting, Alderman Dean Black approached Mayor Rick Gottman about remedying that situation.

Black said merchants in the 300 and 400 blocks of Gallatin Street are continuing to suffer from decreasing business, due to the fact that potential customers have to walk considerable distances to get to those businesses.

Gottman said that he and City Administrator Jimmy Morani would talk to HMG Engineers of Carlyle about the possibility of getting that stretch of Gallatin open to traffic and parking.

Morani reported that he had spoken with the engineers about getting the intersection of Gallatin and Fourth streets opened up.

The intersection cannot be used until stop signs are installed and some concrete work at the northeast corner of the intersection is completed, he said.

Also at the meeting, the council approved two ordinances designed to provide an alternative penalty for liquor license holders who are cited for ordinance violations.

One ordinance states that a liquor license holder may be fined between $100 and $500 for such things as fraud related to their license; conviction of a crime; or conducting an activity that constitutes a breach of peace or “a menace to the health, safety or welfare of the public.”

The other ordinance approved by the council clarifies the definition of public indecency in the municipal code.

The approval of these two ordinances comes on the heels of a ticket being issued to the owners of Thirsty’s for public indecency during a mechanical bull promotion.

City Attorney Jack Johnston said that prior to the action, the city’s municipal code allows for the revocation of a liquor license when a license violation occurs. “There is no provision for a fine,” Johnston said before the vote.

With the passage of the new ordinance, the holders of liquor licenses are subject to both fines and administrative action on the licenses.

Alderman Bret Brosman said he supported the ordinances because there are circumstances that warrant a lighter penalty.

“We should have some penalty short of revocation of a license,” Brosman said.

Vandalia Police Chief Larry Eason said the passage of the first ordinance allows police to locally enforce a state law that bans smoking in public places.

Revisions to the state law in the past year, Eason said, have made it more burdensome and expensive to arrest individuals on state charges for smoking in public places.

Eason said that bar owners have told him that they have no problem with city police enforcing the smoking ban as long as there is consistent enforcement.

In other action on Monday:

• Gottman reported that the city is continuing to benefit from its contract with Governmental Consulting Solutions.

Included in the services provided by the Springfield firm is work to get state payments for water service provided to Vandalia Correctional Center.

Gottman said that since Dec. 22, the state has made three payments totaling $39,612.64.

• The council met in closed session for more than 90 minutes to discuss probable litigation and personnel issues. No action was taken after the council returned to open session.

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