Western Report: Galena City Council trolley ordinance visited and revisited

A few weeks ago, this column talked about the Galena City Council and its inability to come to any final decision about the so called “Trolley Ordinance.”

Last year, after receiving a letter from Tri-State Travel requesting that the council amend the allowable weight and length requirements of the trolleys, the council voted to amend the ordinance to raise the weight limit from 18,000 to 33,000 pounds and the limit on length from 30 to 35 feet. This was a major change, almost doubling the overall size of the trolleys. Only Ald. Murphy voted against it. (Ald. Murdock was absent, and Alder. McCoy had not yet been appointed.)

This change caused quite a stir from residents in the neighborhoods along the historical tour routes of the new, larger trolley. They appealed to their aldermen, wrote to the local papers and showed up at council meetings. The residents complained the increased noise, fumes and possible damage to their streets made these larger “buses” unacceptable.

After hearing the concerns of these residents for weeks, the council voted to cancel the amendment they approved last year and put the old limits back in the ordinance. Aldermen Murdock and McCoy both voted against the motion, citing Mike Hillard, the owner of Tri-State Travel, because of the earlier council vote to allow the larger trolleys, had more than $350,000 invested in his large trolleys.

But the ordinance went back to the original size limits of the trolleys, and again the residents talked to their aldermen, wrote to the papers and spoke at council meetings. But this time it was in praise of the council for their brave action to do what was right for the residents.

OK, so then Hillard, like any good businessman would, went back to the council and urged them to reconsider their denial of his big trolley. He explained to them that their vote and then their reversal of their vote was a very serious detriment to his business.

So, the Galena City Council, in a very predictable action, reversed itself again. They cancelled the canceling of the amendment to the original ordinance. Got that? The bigger trolleys are back in the neighborhoods.

And, as it stands now, the council wants to discuss the ordinance and its limits all over again. Excuse me, but shouldn’t that have been done first? Does this council just want to spend our tax money on making and cancelling ordinances in favor of whoever is asking at the time?

Right now, there are residents in Galena starting to appeal to their alderman, writing to the papers and preparing to speak at the council meetings in hopes the Galena council will reverse itself again.

John Huschik is a free-lance writer from Galena and covers the Jo Daviess County political scene.

From the May 24-30, 2006, issue

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