City learns it’s costly to open Gallatin blocks

Once they found out the cost, Vandalia officials weren’t so interested in getting a two-block stretch of Gallatin Street open when construction is delayed.

The council declined on Monday night to take any action on a request from numerous individuals, including some aldermen and businesses in that two-block section, to open the 300 and 400 blocks of Gallatin open to traffic when weather brought a halt to work on the downtown project.

Hank’s Excavating and Landscaping of Belleville, the general contractor for the project, informed the city on Monday afternoon that it would cost $3,870.33 each time the two blocks were opened to traffic when no work was being done.

The other option was to keep one lane of traffic open while work was being done on the other side of the street, and Hank’s said the cost for that option is $18,892.68.

The estimates include the cost of setting up and removing temporary traffic controls, lane closures for detector loop installation, installing cones each night to block parking spaces for the next day’s work and lost work hours from working around traffic.

The idea of opening the two blocks to traffic during periods when work is halted due to the weather was suggested by Alderman Dean Black, who had heard from merchants in the 300 and 400 blocks of Gallatin.

Merchants in those blocks have reported having little or no business for days at a time.

Because of the cost, there wasn’t much discussion among city officials at Monday’s meeting.

Alderman Mike Hobler said, “I would rather see us spend the money to help those businesses (have access to their buildings).”

The discussion ended with no motions being made on the issue.

Also at the meeting, the council agreed to pay a Texas firm to help promote the city at up to seven trade shows.

The one-year agreement calls for Site Location Partnership will represent Vandalia at national trade industry shows, and to enhance the city’s presence on the Internet.

Director of Economic Development and Tourism JoAnn Givens said she began looking into a contract with such a firm after the city began “looking at its budget dollars for travel and trade shows.”

The agreement also allows the city to send one or two representatives from Vandalia to the trade shows, which would enhance the city’s efforts in making contacts with manufacturing, distribution and warehousing firms, Givens said.

“I think it’s a good value,” she said, explaining that participation in some trade shows is limited to members, and that membership fees alone can run as high as $6,000.

In other action:

• The council voted to allow bars in the city to remain open 90 minutes longer on Super Bowl Sundays.

Several bar owners asked to city for an additional hour for the Super Bowl this Sunday, changing the time for last call from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. All bar customers are required by city ordinance to be out 30 minutes after last call.

Fred Tessman, owner of the Full Moon Bar and Grill, said the bar owners were requesting the additional time because the Super Bowl traditionally is not over until about 9:30 p.m.

Alderman Larry Cable suggested adding two hours, which would allow for the event of overtime play in the Super Bowl, or other circumstances that would cause the game to run longer than expected.

As that suggestion was discussed, Alderman Lisa McNutt suggested a compromise of 90 minutes, and that suggestion was approved in a 4-2 vote.

Cable, McNutt, Bennett and Brosman voted for the 90-minute extension, and Hobler and Jerry Swarm cast dissenting votes.

The action also allows for the 90-minute extension in future years. On Super Bowl Sundays, local bars will be allowed to serve alcohol until 10:30 p.m., and all customers must be out by 11 p.m.

• The council approved an ordinance amendment establishing an alley on the west side of Eighth Street between Randolph and Main streets.

The council approved the zoning classification for the Burtschi Subdivision north of Interstate 70 from light industrial to single-family residential.

• After meeting in closed session for about 40 minutes, the council approved the execution of a third option agreement for slightly less than 20 acres south of the city’s western Interstate 70 interchange.

The second option agreement for the land – which is owned by Randy and Janis Edwards, Robert and Pam Mars, William Opel and Deborah Opel – was set to expire this Sunday.

The option cost is $3,000, and the purchase price for the land is $33,000 per acre.

• Givens introduced Mark and Teresa Focht of Greenville in announcing that the couple is getting ready to start a new business, Vandal Wash, in Vandalia.

The business will be located on Rock Island Avenue, just south of Lo-Macs, and will include a friction car wash, pet wash area and laundry mat.

The Fochts plan to break ground on the 3,440-square-foot facility in march and open the business in May.

The Fochts own Mark’s Heating, Cooling and Plumbing Inc. in Greenville.

• Cable, who said at the council’s last meeting that he believes there should be more street lights along West Main Street out to the new Sloan Implement building, announced on Monday that Southwestern Electric appears unwilling to install the additional lighting.

Cable said he will continue to push for the street lights. “I definitely think it needs to be done,” he said.

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