April 2 Rockford City Council briefs

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117571408018336.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘After much procedural debate, aldermen were able to lay over the RMTD matter by a simple majority vote.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11757141061865.jpg’, ‘File photo’, ‘Rockford City Hall‘);

Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) Board Chairman Gary Marzorati addressed the Council during public participation to deny claims RMTD’s ridership has declined over the last 10 years. A week earlier, Rockford attorney Mario Terara urged aldermen to question RMTD’s proposed expansion in the form of an East Side Transfer Center on North Lyford Road. Terara and Ald. Joe Sosnowski (R-1) both indicated a decrease in riders between 1996 and 2005, but Marzorati argued numbers have risen in the last two years.

“Our last 10 years are 1998 to 2007,” Marzorati argued. “Our ridership in 2006 was up 10 percent. Our ridership in 2007 was up 12 percent.”

A Codes and Regulation Committee report recommending denial of the project’s required zoning map amendment and special use permit was on the evening’s agenda, but aldermen voted to lay the matter over another week.

Marzorati called the delay a “stall-tactic.”

Rockford real estate attorney Mario Terara also spoke during public comments, but without directly mentioning the proposed RMTD expansion on Lyford Road. Instead, Terara chose to focus on development along the East State Street corridor, which includes the parcel on Lyford Road just north of State Street. Describing the area as a precious resource for bringing in tax dollars, Terara subtly suggested development of hotels, retail and restaurants in that area would better serve the community.

“We must look to maximize the benefits of this area through prudent management,” Terara said. “To do otherwise would have us fall short of our city’s potential.”

Aldermen awarded a $12,452 bid to Entre Computer Solutions for city computer network switches.

Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) proclaimed Friday, April 6, to be Tartan Day in Rockford and urged citizens to recognize the contributions of Scottish-Americans in the city’s history.

Mayor Morrissey proclaimed April 2 to be Rockford YouthBuild Day. YouthBuild is operated by Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc. (CCS) and is geared toward the development of low-income 16- to 24-year-olds who did not finish high school. YouthBuild has helped more than 500 young people in the Rockford area through its combination of academic programming and vocational skills training.

The week of April 2 was also proclaimed Hire the Future Week in honor of a youth job fair held April 4 at the Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center. Aimed at finding part-time jobs for 16- to 21-year-olds, the event boasts 20 participating employers and is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

In honor of a county wide cleanup set for April 21, Mayor Morrissey proclaimed the month of April 2007 to be Great American Cleanup Month and asked groups and individuals to volunteer for the beautification effort. Volunteers are urged to call Winnebago/Rockford Clean & Beautiful at 1-815-637-1343 to sign up.

In the spirit of reaffirming equal opportunities in housing, Mayor Morrissey also proclaimed the month of April 2007 to be Fair Housing Month.

Aldermen approved a committee report recommending $122,000 for additional Kishwaukee bridge design engineering to Dixon-based Willett, Hoffman & Associates, for a total cost not to exceed $260,000.

The council approved a committee report recommending approval of the city’s end of an agreement with Winnebago County. Through the agreement, the county will pay certain city employees an hourly wage for work related to a $260,000 Illinois Housing Development Authority grant. The funds are expected to fix up at least eight single-family homes in northwest Rockford. The Winnebago County Board approved its end of the agreement March 22.

Lisa Brown was re-appointed to the Community Action Agency (CAA) Board for a two-year term expiring in January 2009. Brown is a public relations specialist for RMTD.

The City Council unanimously reversed the Zoning Board of Appeals, denying an annexation agreement and special-use permit that would have allowed for the re-opening of the Sunset Drive-In at 1801 Samuelson Rd. Although many aldermen welcomed the idea of an outdoor theater in Rockford, the site’s proximity to residents became the deciding factor.

“It’s a wonderful, great idea,” Ald. Lenny Jacobson (D-6) acknowledged. “Unfortunately, the location, the location, the location just doesn’t make it feasible.”

Aldermen passed a resolution authorizing Phase II of an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to reconstruct Harrison Avenue between 11th and 20th streets. The city’s share of the $10,180,000 project is $2,036,000.

from the April 4-10, 2007, issue

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