Council Approves almost $10 Million in Infrastructure, Development Work

Almost $10 million in infrastructure improvements to repair and replace local neighborhood streets, to fix residential sewers back-ups and a development project adding much needed downtown housing and commercial development all received the go-ahead from Decatur City Council Monday night.

Members during a regularly scheduled meeting also approved a new Decatur Public Library contract and voted to go ahead with new community entryway and wayfinding signage.

Council members voted unanimously to fund an agreement with Dunn Company for more than $2.2 million to provide asphalt street reconstruction on streets that have deteriorated over time due to age, freeze-thaw cycles, and traffic loads while a similar agreement with Otto Baum Company for $1.3 million will provide some street reconstruction and other work along the streets paved as part of the aforementioned project with Dunn Co. An additional $710,000 was authorized to carry out mill and overlay street work to be paid for with state funds.

The street work for the most part is to be prioritized based on roadways in the worst condition throughout the community, with much of the work being done on local neighborhood streets. Due to financial constraints, the city did not have an active local road improvement program until last year with much of the work done having to be funded as part of the State of Illinois’ program and on the state’s timetable. In February 2016, the City made the difficult yet necessary decision to implement a Local Motor Fuel Tax of 5 cents per gallon on unleaded fuel and 1 cent per gallon on diesel fuel to address the city’s crumbling roadways and associated infrastructure.

Officials have regularly emphasized an understanding of the fact that any new level of tax is never easy to accept, however this new funding source represented the most feasible way to address this critical need with plans to use funds to attack streets in the worst condition first. The funding is kept separate in a special fund that can only be utilized for this work and – in an effort to limit the public tax burden – the tax will be eliminated in 10 years.

In other business, council approved a redevelopment agreement with MDA properties LLC to add residential units downtown and that will facilitate new commercial development to the city’s central business district. By December 31, 2017 MDA agrees to expend what is estimated to be more than $2 million to redevelop properties and improve sidewalks and other infrastructure in the 100 blocks of West Main and Wood Streets and the 100 and 200 blocks of South Church St. The work will come in exchange for the release of a lien on property located at 101 S. Main St. placed with a previous property owner.

Council members also voted 7-0 Monday to approve a contract with Entler Excavating Co. for $3.5 million to perform the Nelson Park Neighborhood Combined Sewer Separation Project. The Nelson Park area has long been a source of complaints from residents about sewer backups which this project will help to address.

Contact Billy Tyus at 217-424-2727 for more information.