City Beat: Creative solutions to the New Towne situation abound

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

It seems that doing anything but addressing the housing problems facing Rockford’s most disadvantaged citizens is on the mind of the City Council.

And so it was Monday that a two-hour closed session resulted in the decision to onboard two legal firms to evaluate the city’s options over an investigation by HUD.

Let us forget that the New Towne “problem” could’ve been resolved right now had council stuck to discussion and debate on the merits of the proposals in front of them instead of resorting to a new benchmark for Monday night pettiness down on East State Street.

The Council will vote next week whether to approve this new additional expense, or they could simply okay the plat map for New Towne and hope that HUD finds that measure enough to turn a blind eye going forward.

The price tag for hemming and hawing and driving the city to the brink of federal oversight: a mere $60,000, and that’s just to start. Beyond the initial month or so of legal digging needed just to figure out the extent of the HUD inquiry, who knows? Another $60,000, maybe a $100,000, and in the midst of a city budget shortfall.

Some council members and civic leaders not long ago waxed poetic about New Towne being an act of merely kicking the can down the street when it came to fixing the systemic housing problems in the city. Who would’ve thought they’d send the can off the block altogether?

All those behind-closed-door sessions and load protestations certainly are blazing a new trail as Rockford looks to address its housing crisis. Let’s give the City Council a round of applause for searching out these new and exciting – and unnecessarily expensive – solutions to the New Towne question.

• If any council members need a break from all the hustle and bustle come next summer, the Northwoods League’s new Rockford franchise has announced its 2016 schedule.

The still-unnamed collegiate wood-bat league side will kick off a 36 game home schedule May 31 against the Wisconsin Woodchucks, with the home finale coming August 14 against Kalamazoo.

General Manager Chad Bauer says getting games done in time for families is the first thing on the minds of the new Aviators Park tenants.

“We recognize that previous teams didn’t act on the fact that so much of the community rises at the crack of dawn to go to work,” Bauer said.

“If you punch a clock at six or seven in the morning, I think you will like being able to watch nine innings and still be able to leave around 9 p.m.”

Tickets start at only $8, a family-friendly price to be sure. For information, call 815-240-4159.

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