May 7 Rockford City Council briefs

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117873056530976.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘Ald. John Beck (R-12) served as chairman pro tem while Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) was in Springfield attending a fundraiser for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22).‘);

All in attendance at the May 7 Rockford City Council meeting observed a moment of silence in honor of Jon Lundin, who passed away May 3. Lundin was a local historian, author, president of the Abilities Center and was also instrumental in Rockford’s efforts to revitalize local industry.

Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) noted Lundin’s enthusiasm and aptitude for creating and developing ideas to benefit the citizens of this community.

“I can’t imagine Rockford, Illinois, without Jon Lundin,” Mark said, “but I can see what’s great about Rockford, and I can tell you it’s because Jon Lundin was a part of this city.”

Ald. John Beck (R-12) presided over the City Council in Mayor Larry Morrissey’s (I) absence. Aldermen Lenny Jacobson (D-6) and Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7) were also absent as they accompanied the mayor on a lobbying trip to Springfield.

During public participation, Roger Coffey asked aldermen to reduce or waive the cost of permits for disabled people older than 65. Coffey has made similar requests of the City Council twice before.

A committee report recommending award of bid to Giles Engineering of Waukesha, Wis., for geotechnical services was approved in the amount of $25,945. Giles Engineering was the lowest of four bidders.

A report to award a bid of $49,950 to Mike Harris Mason Contractor, Inc., was approved. The project, for painting and structural repairs to the west wall of the Symbols Building, 316 W. State St., had already gone out for bid, but Harris was the only firm to respond. When bids were again requested, Harris was still the only bidder. Aldermen explained Harris is the only local company capable of doing the work. The building, which is not owned by the city, was damaged during demolition of the adjacent property.

City Administrator Jim Ryan reminded the community of the May 15 fly-in to Springfield. The 30-minute flight each way on an Allegiant Air MD-80 is a welcome change of pace for city leaders who normally take buses to the state capital. If you’re interested in participating, contact Tom Seymour of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-(815) 316-4310.

Ald. Nancy Johnson (D-8) proclaimed May 16 to be Senior Follies Day in honor of the performing group’s two shows at the Coronado Theatre. Performances will be at 2 and 7 p.m., May 16. The senior singers and dancers range up to 90 years of age.

The week of May 13 was proclaimed Odyssey Senior Living Planning Week in Rockford. Odyssey Health Care’s first annual Senior Living Planning Day will be May 19 at Rock Valley College from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be free health care presentations and clinics conducted by various local agencies. For more information, call 1-815-637-2200.

Ald. Mark reminded citizens of the second annual Magnolia Festival being held May 12 from noon until midnight. Admission to the festival at North Main and Auburn streets is $5.

Ald. Dan Conness (D-14) congratulated the Rockford Icehogs for making it to the United Hockey League (UHL) finals, where the ’Hogs will battle for the Colonial Cup before moving into the American Hockey League (AHL) next year as a Chicago Blackhawks affiliate.

Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) returned to City Hall May 7. McNeely has been recuperating from a broken leg and thanked all who’ve wished her well during her recovery. McNeely expects to be wearing a leg cast for another three weeks.

“Until then, I will at least try to make it here to the council meetings,” pledged McNeely, who hadn’t attended a committee or council meeting since March 5. “I’m certainly glad to be back with all of you, working with the business of the 13th Ward and the City of Rockford.”

Aldermen passed a committee report recommending approval of a lease agreement with Joseph James Partners, LLC (also known as JJ Partners) for office space at 303 N. Main St. The Workforce Investment Board and related agencies will occupy the space and be responsible for lease payments. The eight-story former Gas and Electric/CAMCO Building has been under renovation by Matthew and Peter Provenzano, in partnership with Paul Nicolosi of the Buckley Companies, LLC. The renovation is being paid for in part by $750,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds. WATT Publishing and the Mid-Northern Group have also moved their operations into the building. Aldermen Joe Sosnowski (R-1) and Jeff Holt (D-11) abstained. Sosnowski works for Buckley, and Holt is employed by the Fridh Corp., a Buckley competitor. McNeely voted “no.”

The City Council also passed a committee report recommending approval of the 2007 River District Work Plan along with $40,000 in funding. Funds will come from the East and West Side TIF Districts in the amount of $20,000 each. McNeely voted “no.”

Aldermen passed an ordinance recommending approval of a development agreement between Community Collaboration, Inc. and the City of Rockford. The city will pay $50,000 in 2007 and $150,000 in 2008. Community Collaboration, Inc. is a non-profit aimed at synergizing case management among various local social service agencies through a new software system. April 26, the Winnebago County Board committed $288,800 to the project. McNeely voted “no.”

An ordinance to approve a development agreement between the City of Rockford and the Abilities Center was also passed. The city will provide $2,500 per position for up to 10 permanent jobs expected to be created. Per the agreement, a majority of the positions are to be filled by moderate-to-low-income applicants. The Abilities Center is a workforce development organization. McNeely voted “no.”

Aldermen approved a resolution for design and construction engineering for Harrison Avenue bridge improvements over Union Pacific and CNIC rail lines at a cost of $150,000.

The council also approved a city/state agreement related to Harrison Avenue bridge improvements. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will contribute $3,907,000, and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) will provide $5,040,000. The city’s share is $333,000, plus anything over the project’s estimated $9 million price tag.

from the May 2-8, 2007, issue

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