MetroCentre parking deck off table

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-119083176331293.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘The week of Sept. 24 was proclaimed Lew Crampton Week (pictured) in Rockford.‘);

Remembering numerous subsidies and other bail-outs the city has provided Rockford’s MetroCentre over the years, a majority of aldermen decided $2 million is simply too much to pay to take over the facility’s parking deck on Main and State streets.

Days earlier, Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) called the $2 million premium a “fair price,” noting construction of a new deck would cost about $15,000 per stall. He’d hoped to include a $2,025,000 allocation for the acquisition as part of a multi-project fall bond issue.

The 8-5 vote against creating a funding mechanism, which would allow for the purchase, puts on hold plans Mayor Morrissey had to revamp downtown parking. Morrissey said ownership of the deck would allow the city to offer both permit and pay-as-you-go parking, giving more options to downtown shoppers.

Even before the item came to the council floor, aldermen were skeptical of the $2 million price-tag, noting the highest bid the structure received on the market this past year was only $1.3 million. Morrissey attributes the low bids to low-balling bargain-hunters.

Long-term costs of maintaining and operating the structure also factored in to the council’s decision. $4 million in unanticipated state funds is earmarked for the MetroCentre in a state capital plan passed by the Senate, giving aldermen all the more reason to take a wait-and-see approach.

Aldermen Frank Beach (R-10), Jeff Holt (D-11), Nancy Johnson (D-8), Linda McNeely (D-13), Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7), Bill Timm (R-9), Joe Sosnowski (R-1) and Carl Wasco (D-4) were enough to defeat the Finance and Personnel Committee report.

Bond sale moving ahead

The council approved committee reports to authorize the issuance of $5.25 million in general obligation bonds for the following projects:

$1.1 million for the Liebovich Expansion

$1.1 million for the Northwest Rockford Sewer

$3,050,000 for the Library East Branch

City asks General Assembly to pass capital plan

The Illinois Senate recently passed a state capital plan, which would be funded by expanded gaming. The plan is likely to find resistance in the House, but Rockford leaders are asking legislators to reach a compromise to ensure cities throughout Illinois will start seeing some much-needed improvements.

A resolution strongly encouraging the passage of such a capital plan was unanimously approved by the city council. The resolution also urges the Illinois Department of Transportation to expedite projects in the Rockford region.

Flood relief update

Although the temporary Disaster Relief Center closed its doors Sept. 22, flood victims will still have until Oct. 21 to apply for assistance. To apply, call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 1-800-621-3362.

Mayor Morrissey reported FEMA has already received 710 applications from within Rockford.

The mayor added city leaders should have a better idea as to the details of the possible acquisition of flooded homes along Keith Creek within 10 days.

Ald. Frank Beach (R-10) recognized five local contractors who donated $10,000 each in staff and equipment for the cleanup of a large stretch of Keith Creek. Beach thanked Rockford Blacktop, Schlichting Construction, Sjostrom Construction, Stenstrom Construction and the Northwest Illinois Contractors Association for their contributions to the community.

Committee Reports

A Finance and Personnel Committee report recommending Rockford Forms and Graphics be awarded a printing contract was approved at an anticipated annual cost of $41,438.

Aldermen approved a report recommending Champion Environmental Services, Inc., of Gilberts, be awarded a $587,000 contract for the demolition of four buildings at the City Yards.

The council also passed a report recommending the award of a not-to-exceed $104,118 bid to Fehr-Graham & Associates for an engineering agreement related to the City Yards project.

The council gave its nod to a report recommending the creation of a Healthy Neighborhoods Program to provide a variety of services throughout the community.

A report recommending Auto Clinic of Rockford, Inc., receive $11,351.50 in tax increment financing (TIF) funds was approved. The funds are to be used for renovation and repair after the business sustained flood damage in August.

Chicago-based FMLA Source/ComPsych received approval for Family Medical Leave Act management for the city at an annual price of $19,620.

Aldermen agreed to enter into an agreement to reimburse Eagle Land Development for the cost of upsizing the water main diameter in the Redington Chase subdivision as part of the city’s ongoing $75 million water project. The reimbursement is not to exceed $195,545.

Public participation

Joe Owen, vice president of the Orchid neighborhood group, spoke about community policing, and the importance of getting involved.

“We don’t have enough neighbors looking out for neighbors,” Owen indicated. “We’ve got too many neighbors fearing neighbors.”

Owen argued the success of the Weed and Seed program, whose merits have been the subject of some debate recently.

“It’s working,” Owen said. “Not as fast as I would like, but it’s working.”

Owen invited the public to a Kishwaukee Corridor Weed and Seed Town Hall meeting, which was held Sept. 25 at the Patriots Gateway Community Center.


In honor of outgoing Burpee Museum President and CEO, the week of Sept. 24 was proclaimed Lew Crampton Week in Rockford.

Crampton, who departs for Ohio in October, is credited with a number of notable accomplishments since taking the helm in 2001. During his tenure, the museum managed to raise $12 million in funding and doubled attendance, which Mayor Morrissey said transformed the facility from a local to a regional destination. Perhaps most notably, a museum expedition to Montana’s Badlands unearthed the now-famous dinosaur Jane.

Crampton, who has also been extremely active in various groups and boards throughout the community, assured he’d be back in Rockford from time to time.

Crampton received a standing ovation from city council attendees.

Mayor Morrissey also proclaimed October 2007 Head Start Awareness Month in Rockford, urging the public to support the program’s commitment to providing an educational “head start” for preschoolers from low-income families.


Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) was not present.

from the Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2007, issue

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