Talk on the streets

The improvement to a section of a street on Vandalia’s north side was OK’d on Monday, but only after a lengthy discussion earlier in the evening on other needed street improvements.
The city council approved the low bid of $57,998.25 from Precise Construction Services of Vandalia for new pavement on a 200-foot section of Janett Avenue.
The Precise bid was one of two received by the city, the other being a $75,808.65 bid from Sheldon Schulte Construction.
The improvement will be made to the east of the recently improved intersection of Janett and Eighth Street.
That road project was one of three matters discussed by the council’s streets committee prior to Monday’s council meeting.
At the start of the discussion, Mayor Rick Gottman said the city needs to consider where it’s money is being best spent.
Gottman said he believes that the city needs to look at making improvements to Randolph Street, particularly on the uphill part of the street east of 1400 block of Randolph.
Randolph Street, Gottman said, has a much higher traffic count, which would support work on that street.
City Administrator LaTisha Paslay said that the count for Janett is about 1,200 a day, while Randolph is 4,500.
Director of Public Works Marlin Filer said that there are no funds in the budget for Randolph Street, and that the committee agreed in May to take on the Janett Avenue project.
Filer supported the improvement to Janett based on the number of heavy trucks All-Steel and Mid-Illinois Concrete using that street.
He also noted that his staff expends a considerable amount of time and labor with continuous work in that area.
With Randolph Street, Filer said, the city has two options – redoing the entire stretch of the street or patch bad spots with concrete.
“To do the whole thing would cost millions,” he said.
Likely added to the cost of that, when the issue was brought up by Alderman Steve Barker, would be the expense of needed infrastructure improvements under the street.
Gottman said that he would like to see concrete patches for rough spots, and Barker recommended including that in next year’s budget.
Filer said that he would like to also improve Janett west of the intersection.
“When we were finished there, I was going to move to Randolph,” he said. “I do have a plan.”
Gottman suggested that Filer begin doing an assessment of city streets to give an idea of which streets are in the worst shape and in need of improvements.
While he favors work on Randolph Street, Gottman reiterated from an earlier meeting that the city will next year have to begin budgeting for a new water plant and then for a new sewer plant.
As the discussion ended, Alderman Andy Lester there is not enough of the year left to do an assessment of streets needing attention and address some of those issues.
Lester said that the Janett project is included in the budget. And, he said, “If we don’t get this done, we won’t get any pavement done (this year).”
Also at the regular meeting:
• The council approved the transfers of Vandalia Lake lots No. 46 from Bobby Barbour of Troy to Randy Pryor of Vandalia and No. 315 from the city to Christina Pirtle of Troy.
• The council approved an intergovernmental agreement through which the city is giving to Vandalia Correctional Center a wood chipper that the VCC staff will refurbish.
• The council voted to reduce the number of Class D liquor licenses (package liquor) from three to two.
• Police Chief Jeff Ray reported that the city has thus far not been able to hire a crossing guard for the intersection of Eighth and Fletcher streets.
He said that a guard is needed from 7:30-8:10 a.m. and from 3-3:30 p.m. on days that school is in session, and that the guard is paid $13.23 a day.
• Gottman said that he had received a number of favorable comments about the work done by youth Group Mission Trip youth who were in town to make improvements to homes of the elderly and disabled.
• At the request of Alderman Mike Hobler, the council approved the reimbursement of $940.99 to Cameron Withers for expenses incurred in completing his Eagle Scout project at Vandalia Lake.
Hobler said that Withers installed benches, landscaping and a sign board at the restrooms at the lake marina.
• Asked by Lester why Vandalia was not included in the city’s Passport program for state historic sites, City Administrator LaTisha Paslay said they were told that Vandalia was too far south.
She added that they are working on a similar program for Vandalia’s historic sites, with visitors getting a stamp for every site that they visit.
• Gottman reported that all environmental issues at the former Walmart building have been addressed and that demolition of the building should get under way in the near future.
The mayor also reported that the demolition of Capitol View Steakhouse, which was destroyed by fire in June, will also begin soon.
• Paslay reported that the city’s Bicentennial Committee will hold a Community Picnic from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9, on the Vandalia Statehouse lawn.
Tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 4-12 (3 and under are free, are available from committee members and at city hall. The menu will included fried chicken, pork loin, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, rolls, and tea and lemonade.
The event will also include children’s games and live music by Judy McNutt and Drew Sheafor.
The picnic will also serve as the kickoff for the bicentennial Brothers of the Brush competition. Males growing facial hair for the bicentennial will be entered in competitions.

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