Wednesday, April 30, 2008

D Gorton Weighs in on Blyer Field

Bleyer Field is the former football and track fields of Carbondale Community High School. When the school closed and moved to the east side campus, the land was sold off through closed bids. That included the buildings as well as the 12 acres that constituted the athletic fields. The school buildings are not part of the present discussion. A corner of the property is just across from Hickory Lodge which is owned by the Carbondale Parks District. Hickory Lodge went through its own convulsions after the Parks Commission tried to sell it off.

The mass of the property sits just a few dozen yards from Main St. across from where Schnucks Grocery store is located. The property is now up for sale for $1.9M (Tuesday's Southern Illinoisan quoted a figure from the realtor of $1.5M) according to the realtor, though it was bought for around $175,000. Significantly, this includes several parcels that are directly on Main St and are contiguous with Bleyer Field. It is important to know that Bleyer Field is zoned R-1-8. Which means that the planning office of the City envisioned large, single family homes on the plot. Adjacent parts of it are zoned differently.

Last year Bleyer Field was named as an "enterprise zone". It follows a pattern, however, of the Carbondale School Board selling the property cheap, and then government agencies making it attractive to developers. The folks who own the property, Gelco Management of Vienna, Illinois, have lived a particularly charmed life. They allowed the property to fall into disuse and become a magnet for homeless in the ramshackle buildings on the site. Only after one of the homeless stabbed another on Main St., and the nearby community became incensed, did the City force Gelco to clean up the site. At about the same time, Gelco was cited as a polluter in their demolition of Lincoln School In Benton. In that case they were referred to the Illinois Attorney General by the EPA for their apparently criminal mishandling of asbestos.

In order to realize the highest possible profits from the site, it is logical that the owners would want the R-1-8 zoning to be changed to something commercial. How else could one ask $1,900,000 ($1.5M?) for land that was originally $175,000? I don't even want to go into the obviously inept Carbondale School Board's method of selling land. To that end I suggest that neighbors talk to Lawrence Dennis who actually questioned the school board's reasoning at the time of the sale. His tale is hair raising.

We asked Kevin Baity who is the Assistant City Manager for Economic Development to give us any information that he had. Kevin was especially forthcoming and should be commended.

However, the rumors are all over the neighborhood that Hollywood Video, which adjoins Bleyer Field, has lost its lease because the landowner wanted to sell to a developer. There is also the rumor that Mugsy McGuire's has been sold, or soon will be. Is it CVS or is it Ward Chrysler? No one knows for sure. In addition there are empty lots and abandoned fast food restaurants all along W. Main St.

I believe that the neighborhood is supportive of development as long as it is appropriate to our area. We are entering a very difficult period with the possibility of gas prices in the $5 to $7 range - a potential killer for regional shopping centers. Development on the West Side should be done carefully to avoid the mistakes that have plagued economic planning in too many Southern Illinois Communities. I adher to Rod Dreher's view that "Small, Local, Old and particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New and Abstract". Walkable neighborhoods with excellent services that end our need for an automobile for every errand seems not just attractive, but in light of skyrocketing fuel prices, absolutely necessary. That is at least one crucial element of appropriate development.

I will state unequivocally that the development of Bleyer Field and the areas along Main St. will affect our neighborhood for the next several decades. If it not done in a way that is appropriate, we will suffer loss in our property values, not to mention our quality of life. Bleyer Field can reasonably be said to be the key to our entire West Side.

D Gorton

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

City Comments on Bleyer Field

In response to some questions (not from me) about the plans for the old CCHS football and track fields, Kevin Baity, Assistant City Manager for Economic Development sent the following email:

Good Morning,

The former Bleyer Field was acquired by Mr. Lloyd by way of a sealed bid
format from the Carbondale High School District #165. It is my understanding
there were only two bids and his was twice the lower bid amount. The
property contains approximately 12.63 acres more or less and contains three
zoning districts (Secondary Business - SB, along Main Street; Residential -
R-1-5, along Linden Street at the north end of the track; and R-1-8 for the
majority of the property between Bleyer Drive and Oakland Avenue). The owner
has listed the property with Ann Colborn and Associates of Marion, IL.
Members of the Planning Department and myself have met with Ms. Colborn to
discuss the current zoning, points of access and utility availability for
the property. Ms. Colborn is actively pursuing developers for the property
in her capacity as RE agent. Currently we are not privy to such information
and in the event we do become involved that information is generally bound
by a Confidentiality Agreement. The City has not received an application for
any potential rezoning of the property.

In November 2007, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity approved our application to extend the Enterprise Zone to areas
along West Main Street, including the former Bleyer Field. I am attaching an
informational brochure that explains the incentives offered through the EZ.

I hope this information answers some of your questions. I would be glad to
discuss this further if needed.

Kevin Baity
Assistant City Manager for Economic Development
200 South Illinois Ave.
Carbondale, IL 62902

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Kopies & More Moves

Just noticed this over the weekend but longtime Strip stalwart Kopies & More has abandoned its location at 811 S. Illinois for a spot in the Grand Avenue Mall over on East Grand across from Lewis Park

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hollywood Video Followup

As was mentioned in the comments to yesterday's post about Hollywood Video, the chain did file for bankruptcy last fall. However, according to the staff there last night when I stopped in, the store is not closing due to the filing as the other Hollywood Video stores in the region (Paducah, Herrin and Cape Girardeau, I believe) are remaining open. Rather, the lease was expiring and, from what the shift manager said, the landlord showed no interest at all in negotiating an extension.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hollywood Video Closing

Got a phone call a few minutes ago informing me that Hollywood Video was closing its store and that videos were on sale for $5 each. Good for your DVD collection, bad for the economic well being of Carbondale, especially the west side. The last think that side of Carbondale needs is another empty storefront.Publish Post

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Coal City Diner

According to their website, the Coal City Diner will open in the spot vacated last year by the Hibachi Grill at 227 West Main. Target date for opening is August 8. Until then, the restaurant is offering lunch deliveries from the menu here. They do request all orders be made 24 hours in advance which will sure kill off impulse lunch orders.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mugsy's Sold?

Heard a rumor this afternoon that the property Mugsy McGuires is located on has been sold to CVS Pharmacy, which plans to raze the building and build a new pharmacy building there. In late 2006, CVS sought a rezoning to move from its current location to a spot on S. Oakland between Walnut and Main. That atttempt failed, this one, if true, should be more successful.

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Yep, I'm 30 today.

For those of you so inclined towards giving extravagant presents to random birthday celebrants, feel free to make a pledge to WDBX's membership drive in the name of old folks everywhere. I only need another $40 to make my goal.

As my gift to you, I've got a live guest for this week's extra-noisy broadcast-- Carbondale's own Karthik Kakarala. The Nightlife should have more information about this in their next issue, should you prefer your musical announcements in a printed format.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

King II

Apparently, this isn't the first time a local group of students has sought to honor MLK Jr. by renaming something after him. I've been reading SIUC's Days of Dissent: A Memoir of Student Protest, written by Allan H. Keith and privately published last year (picked up a copy at Rosetta Books before it closed) and found this brief paragraph on page 34:

In April (1969) the Student Senate reaffirmed its support for renaming the University Park residence hall complex for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Chancellor MacVicar rejected the proposal because he said SIUC's policy was that names must be for persons who had "made significant contributions to campus life".

Just goes to show, there are never any new ideas.


Monday, April 21, 2008


Apparently the picture accompanying this article is causing a bit of a squall in the pages of the DE (If someone with better DE fu than I would send me a link to the picture, 'twould be greatly appreciated). See here, here, and oh, yes, here for more responses. Geez, the university needs $75 million in repairs and no one bats an eyelash but put two men kissin' on the front page...

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Historic Properties Tour

In case you're free next Monday evening:

The Carbondale Preservation Commission will be hosting a Bus Tour of Historic Properties on Monday, April 28, 2008. The tour will include the Arbor District and will include a stop at the Buckminster Fuller Dome/Home.

Boarding will begin at 5:45pm and the bus will depart at 6:00 pm from the City Hall/Civic Center lobby at 200 South Illinois Avenue. We will return at approximately 8:00 pm to the Civic Center. Please call 457-3259 or 457-3235 to reserve your space and join us for a very special evening.

This tour is open to the public, free of charge, and everyone is invited to attend.

Chris Wallace, PlannerPlanning
Services Division
City of Carbondale
(618) 457-3259


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shoud the USG Be Abolished?

Given the turnout for the recent elections for USG, the responses to this letter make a good argument for eliminating the USG.


Charlie Birger tour?

With the interest Americans have in our past, especially the lurid parts, and the e80th anniversary yesterday of his execution, it's surprising no one has taking advantage of Charlie Birger's exploits here in Southern Illinois to set up a guided tour of the locations associated with the story. The Rend Lake tourism organiation has already posted a driving tour of some important locations in the story.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Earthquake link roundup / primer for non-Californians

I was awakened last night by the earthquake-- a 5.4, according to everything I've read so far. My former Californian resident wife is suddenly full of interesting earthquake info. In a nutshell-- head outdoors, as I don't want my 90-year-old home crashing down on my head. Apparently, my large yard is an earthquake safety luxury those crazy Californians would love to have... Anyways, here's a roundup of bloggers discussing what may be the biggest earthquake in recent Illinois history:

Dave Ferguson wonders "did you feel it?"

Ron Hogan plans to sue for loss of soda

Susan is reminded of grandpa's vibrating bed. Why grandpa had a vibrating bed? We'll never know.

Poor Jennifer has to get up way too early.

Ultimate Blogging Machine sacrifices accuracy for speed.

WSIL-TV's website had nothing as of the time of this entry, haha. Not quite a scoop, but still!

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency advocates a "duck, cover, hold" approach to earthquake safety. They also have good information about earthquake preparedness, and a family earthquake plan.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Apparently, GELCO Management & Developers, LLC, out of Vienna Il, the company that bought the old CCHS football and track fields a few years ago for $175,000, and have left them sit and deteriorate since then, is being investigated by the Illinois AG, regarding the demolition of Lincoln School in Benton. Here's the press release from the state EPA's website

Illinois EPA refers GELCO Management & Developers to Attorney General for enforcement
Agency taking action to stop illegal handling of asbestos containing material at former Benton school building

SPRINGFIELD--- Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott has asked the Illinois Attorney General to take the necessary legal actions to prevent GELCO Management & Developers, LLC, headquartered in Vienna, from performing any further demolition activities at the former Lincoln School in Benton, and to require that GELCO take actions designed to protect the public and workers from exposure to asbestos contamination.
During a June 2007 inspection, the former school was found to contain regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM). The Illinois EPA found that GELCO improperly proceeded with demolition activities disturbing a significant amount of RACM. The Agency also observed that GELCO conducted the demolition without proper inspection, and without taking necessary precautions when handling and removing RACM materials. Illinois EPA was not notified prior to the demolition, as required, nor were the proper emission control procedures followed.
In the referral, the Illinois EPA recommends that, before resuming demolition activities, GELCO retain a licensed asbestos abatement project designer to design and submit a plan to remove all asbestos-containing materials and remediate all asbestos contamination. Once the Illinois EPA has accepted a program, a licensed asbestos abatement contractor will be hired to implement the program.
The Illinois EPA will continue to provide the Attorney General with technical and legal support as needed.

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Well, I was wrong.

Thought this story had died when I posted yesterday but the SI has a follow up article here. Judgeing for the comments section, it should have a few days worth of legs. Wonder if it will draw as much controversy as the Poshard plagiarisms story did?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Closure for Eikenberg

This story has sure dropped out of the local news fast. Apparently the SIUC athletic department has reviewed women's basketball coach Dana Eikenberg's behavior and found nothing worth acting on. It will be interesting to see what athletic director Moccia's plans are to deal with the issues raised by the review.

I did like this blaming the media comment Eikenberg added toward the end of the article:

"Because of your articles, we're going to have to talk about this for the next two years," Eikenberg said. "The more we continue to communicate and talk about it, the more we'll have to defend ourselves.


Monday, April 14, 2008

10 Deadliest Roads

According to this article in today's Southern Illinoisan, these are the 10 deadliest roads in southern Illinois:
Top 10 Deadly Roads:

1. Illinois 37

2. Illinois 3

3. Illinois 149

4. Illinois 154

5. US 51

6. Illinois 148

7. Illinois 4

8. Illinois 127

9. Illinois 15

10. Illinois 14

As one commenter on the paper's website wondered, are there more particular areas of each road that are more dangerous. Is it safer to drive 127 north of Murphysboro than south? How likely are accidents around Diamonds or Club Coyote? I see that you're relatively safe when driving along Hwy 13, which is a load off my mind.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

How Much Is That Chancellor in the Window?

Missed this on first read of yesterday's SI article but the chancellor's position pays $290,000 a year. Pretty good money, but then, given the track record of past chancellors, they may not collect it for that long.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Follow to the Press Release

Following up on Dave's post earlier today, here's the SI's article on SIU Board of Trustee member Samuel Goldman's assuming the interim chancellor's position at SIUC. I found this comment by SIUC spokesman Dave Gross interesting,

"His housing allowance will no longer be paid by the university. The fringe benefits and (chancellor's) salary will not follow him,"

given the comments about arbitration that Trevino's lawyer, Shari Rhode, (yes the same Shari Rhode working for Janet Vaught) has been making to the media. According to an interview on WSIU yesterday, Rhode expects arbitration regarding the disposition of his salary and benefits to take 9-12 months

And this was fast.


Interim Chancellor

SIUC Chancellor's page was posted yesterday with a message from Sam Goldman.

Friday, April 11, 2008

City Clerk III

The Southern has an article on the city clerk's position shift. Not much new in it, save for the mention that the terms under which Vaught was originally hired have changed and Mayor Cole's comments on the entire situation:

"This was the way it had functioned for decades; it's a matter of managing a position within the government, it's really not that big of a deal," he said. "I don't remember a big deal being made of it when it was switched (in 2003)."

In response to Rhode's suggestion that the city could have handled the move better by letting Vaught operate under her original terms, Cole said Rhode does not draft city policy.

"The city council sets policy for the city of Carbondale," he said. "If Ms. Vaught's attorney thinks that way then ? perhaps she should run for city council."

Cole added: "This is a matter of dealing with the management of a position. It seems to be personalized and I am not getting into that."


Putting ducks in a row

Need a break from Carbondale politics? Allow me change bloggy gears for a moment and discuss something that's on my mind...

Year after year, I'm the poor sap tasked with kicking off the WDBX membership drive, and this time around is no different. I'm always game for it-- on those early mornings, I begin the excruciatingly slow process of reminding Southern Illinois that WDBX is mostly listener-supported.

As you can imagine, I don't often meet with a lot of success during that first week. At best, I get a drunken caller asking for TAO's phone number. It's rather disheartening.

This time around the sun, I've resolved to do things differently. That's why I'm putting you all on notice now-- WDBX's membership drive begins at 4 a.m. Saturday April 19th, long before you'd normally be awake. It is my hope that you will rouse from bed, phone in your pledge, and thereafter count yourselves among the enlightened minority who support community radio.

Although being a member is its own reward, I'm going to sweeten the deal by giving something nice and musical to my first three new or renewing members.

Here's the number: 618-457-3691

(And hey, here's some WDBX in-use equipment, vintage 1975!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

City Clerk Change

Today's DE has more information on the change in the change in the chain of command of the City Clerk's position. From the article, and other comments, it appears it was Mayor Cole's desire to move the clerk's office directly under the mayor and city council and the city council acquiesced. Councilwoman Corene McDaniel offered this reasoning in support of her vote:

..... she voted in favor of Cole's proposal because the city clerk should not know information shared by the Council as it searches for a new city manager, who would have been the clerk's boss. McDaniel said Vaught has attended the meetings to review applicants for retiring City Manager Jeff Doherty's successor.

"I would hate to think that all my employees know about me before I do," McDaniel said.

There's also an article in this week's Carbondale Times (not online, pick up a copy around town) about the rejiggering with the interesting addendum that though the original proposal would have given the council approval in hiring a city clerk, the council would have had no say in firing. Councilman Lance Jack opposed the measure as written and it was rewritten to require council approval on both hiring and firing. Jack, Cole and councilmen Wissmann and McDaniel all then voted for the change.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Still Hanging

According to this article in today's DE, Chancellor Trevino is still hanging in there disputing the charges/claims made against hem, which are still being kept on the QT. According to the article, due to privacy laws, the public may never know what the reasons were for putting Trevino on leave.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Illinois Works

In case you're free this evening, I received the email below forwarded from the Chamber of Commerce. Wonder if they will listen if you ask about things we don't need, like the widening of 127 north from Murphysboro:

llinois' infrastructure affects us all. It fosters business growth, world-class schools and thriving communities. It's time to pass a new capital improvement bill and we want to hear your concerns.

Tell us why Southern Illinois needs a capital bill at an Illinois Works Coalition Listening Session.

Hosted by Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard

Wednesday, April 2
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Carbondale Civic Center
Room 108
200 S. Illinois

Illinois Works is Governor Blagojevich's $25 billion capital improvement program designed to make crucial investments in our schools, roads, bridges, airports and transit systems. In addition to repairing and rebuilding our infrastructure, Illinois will also create 700,000 jobs and stimulate our slowing economy.

We hope you will join us. Together, let's rebuild our infrastructure and put Illinois to work!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

City Council Agenda

In case you didn't click the link to Dave's posting of the city council agenda for tonight, here it is. Lots o' stuff being purchased but the major event will be the discussion of the 2009 budget and 5 year Community Investment Program:

Visitors are welcome to all meetings of the City Council. The use of cell phones and pagers is prohibited in Council Chambers. All electronic devices should be turned off before entering. If you wish to address the Council on a matter not covered by the printed Agenda, please raise your hand during the portion of the Agenda entitled “Citizens Comments and Questions” and you may be recognized by the Mayor. If you wish to address the Council concerning an item which is listed on the printed Agenda, please raise your hand at the time the Mayor invites audience comments on that item. Time allowed for audience comments may be limited at the Mayor’s discretion.

All matters listed under “Consent Agenda” are considered to be routine by the City Council and will be enacted by one motion. Unless otherwise specifically requested by a Council Member, there will be no separate discussion on these items.

  1. Roll Call

  1. General Announcements and Proclamations

  1. Citizens’ Comments and Questions

  1. Public Hearings and Special Reports

1. Public Hearing on Proposed FY 2009 City Budget.

  1. Consent Agenda

1. Approval of Minutes of the Regular City Council Meeting Held on March 18, 2008.

2. Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 3/10/08. FY 2008 Warrant # 1032.

3. Acceptance of Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.

4. Illinois Municipal League Legislative Bulletin 2008-06.

5. Appointments and Reappointments to Boards and Commissions.

6. Award of Purchase of an Ion Chromatography System for the Central Laboratory.

7. Award of Purchase of Variable Frequency Drives for the Water Treatment Plant.

8. Award of Purchase of a Street Sweeper for Street Maintenance.

9. Award of Contract for Composition, Layout and Printing of Carbondale Communique for FY 2009 and FY 2010.

10. Award of Purchase of a One-Ton 4X2 Pickup Truck with Crew Cab and Utility Body for Public Works - Water Distribution.

11. Ordinance Approving Paul Lewer’s Request to Designate The Train Inn Located at 406 East Stoker Street as a Landmark District on the Carbondale Register of Historic Places.

12. Award of Purchase of a Zero Turn Radius Mower and Attachments for Cemeteries.

13. Award of Purchase of Materials for Handrail Replacement at the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant (Digester Tanks and Grit Chamber).

  1. General Business

1. Discussion of FY 2009 Budget and Five Year Community Investment Program Budget.

2. Ordinance Amending Title One, Chapter Three, Article B of the Carbondale Revised Code as it Relates to Employment of the City Clerk.

  1. Council Comments

  1. Adjournment


Tina's Hallmark Closing

Caught this article in Sunday's Southern. After 20 years, Tina's Hallmark will close at the end of the month. I was bemused by Kevin Baity's comment towards the end:

"In the course of business, there always will be those that come and go," he said. "The west side is a very stable area."

Let's see, in the space of a year, you've lost two businesses that have been on the west side for over 20 years, and Aldi's is making noises about moving to a new location as well. The only businesses that have moved in during the past year are a coffee shop in Murdale and the First Southern branch, as well as a Mexican restaurant, grocery and tattoo shop in the strip mall behind Murdale. The only other businesses that I can think of that have moved to the area during the past 10 years or so are the used car dealers on the north side of Main and the Dollar General Store that relocated from its old spot in Eastgate Shopping Center. Stable maybe, thriving, no.

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