Committee approves ‘Tim Dimke Drive;’ library liquor license laid over

By Jim Hagerty 
Contributor 

CITY HALL — A city street may soon be re-named to honor the outgoing leader of the Rockford Park District after the Code and Regulation Committee voted Monday to turn Green Street into “Tim Dimke Drive” for three years.

The measure now moves on for a vote at the full City Council meeting. Alderman meet next Monday, June 19.

Dimke will cap a 44-year career that he started as student worker a Page Park this month. Working his way through the ranks, Dimke succeeded Webbs Norman as RPD director in 2006, when Illinois Association of Park District’s President Tim Flickinger sparked the hire amid plans to find the new director via a national search.

A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Dimke helped orchestrate several park district expansions over the years, having a hand in the Nicholas Conservatory, Sportscore Two, Indoor Sports Center and the UW Health Sports Factory.

Dimke attempted to retire in 2015 and collect a pension while remaining with the park district as a paid consultant. The plan was blocked by Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which ruled Dimke could not collect a pension because he was not technically retiring.

• In other committee business, the Rockford Public Library is seeking city approval for a liquor license to serve alcohol at fundraisers at its facilities.

The library has been serving liquor-by-the glass at is facilities for years by hiring caterers with liquor licenses. However, it was recently discovered by the library that it is against state law for libraries to serve alcohol without a local liquor permit.

The matter was broached briefly last night but tabled when alderman wanted more information. Members of the Code and Regulations Committee also laid the matter over two weeks ago amid debate.

Some of the confusion lies in whether the library is subject to the City of Rockford’s liquor license requirements. “The Rockford Library District is a separate taxing body,” Alderman Venita Hervey noted.

Other points of discussion include whether granting the library permission to serve alcohol would compete with private catering businesses and whether children would be present during events where alcohol is served.

Alderman Tuffy Quinonez, D-11, said he wants more information about the library’s plan and assurance that officials are not planning to open a bar inside any of the facilities.

Republican Third Ward Alderman Chad Tuneberg said allowing the library to serve liquor, especially along the river, makes sense.

“We are all in agreement that we don’t want a college fraternity keg-party atmosphere, but the previous council already had plans in place to have events and utilize our river,” Tuneberg said. “For us to have facilities sitting unused or dormant after hours wouldn’t be prudent.”

• Meanwhile, the Rockford Finance Tax Force has met and will mull ideas about how to close the gap on the projected $6.5 million budget deficit for 2018. Leaders say the city will end the current year on track with the 2017 spending plan, but that budget woes in Springfield will play a big role in next year’s outlook.

The task force is turning to measures the city made in 2009 when leaders made revenue adjustments to close an almost $9 million shortfall. Task force members are: Chris Black, Rock River Water Reclamation District; Eric Jones, Rockford Police Department; Garry Cacciapaglia, City of Rockford; Christopher Scrol, Rockford Firefighters Local 413 president; Alderman Kevin Frost, R-4; Alderman Ann Thompson-Kelly, D-7; Howie Sorenson, Lindstrom & Sorenson Accountants; Michelle Petrie, Wintrust Commercial Bank; and Noel Nickel, SwedishAmerican Hospital.

The task force will review areas of the operating fund and create ways to collaborate with the county on how to improve spending. A final report is expected to be presented to aldermen later this summer. Measures from the report could be up for votes this fall.

The state faces a third year without a full budget with a June 30 deadline to pass a spending plan. R.

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