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Villa Grove Council meets as committee as a whole

The Villa Grove city council met for their monthly Committee as a whole meeting on Monday, July 22, with aldermen Johnson and Griffith being absent.

Under the newly passed ordinance, the council will undertake voting meetings on the first Monday of the month, and the fourth Monday meeting will be used as a discussion session for issues facing the city and individual wards.

After roll was called and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, Andy Kieser was on hand to give an engineering report, and stated that demolition plans for the old water plant were ongoing.

Next the floor was opened for public comment, and none was offered.  

City administrator Jackie Athey was tending to city business at the Murdock board meeting and therefore gave no report.

Public works chair Scott Arbuckle reported that plans were underway to locate and prepare to move the lines that run under the Sycamore Street bridge in preparation for the bridge replacement project. 

Mayor Gunter then stated that since she had been out of town the week previously, she would have no report, and then turned the meeting toward city business.

The first discussion item concerned the city’s ordinances regarding general maintenance of properties and vehicles and the enforcement of those ordinances. After some discussion, it was determined that Chief Gire should be present before any action on altering ordinances would take place.

The next discussion on the agenda was a discussion of ordinances concerning the regulation of landlord owned rental properties. Mayor Gunter stated that it was important to look at whether a revision of existing ordinances was needed. 

“We have a lot of landlords who are doing it the right way,” Gunter stated. “There are a few who are the issue.” 

All agreed that the way the ordinances are enforced is an issue, and there was some discussion of bringing the citation and enforcement of violations under the purview of building inspector Mike Broeker. Broeker, who was on hand, was amenable to the idea, but alderman Garrett raised the point that the police force should be able to canvass the city for obvious violations. The council ultimately decided to confer with city attorneys before making any decisions.

Next, the councils discussed the need for fencing at the back of the water plant. While most agreed with Arbuckle’s assertion that some sort of security was needed, Alderman Allen was concerned with the cosmetics of having a chain link fence with barbed wire on top. 

“We don’t want our new water plant to look like a prison,” Allen said. The council then tasked Arbuckle with conferring with city engineers regarding the situation, and also with researching the possibility of other solutions.

Next, Mayor Gunter asked the aldermen if there were any other items they would like to discuss.  

Alderman Hooker stated that he had three items to discuss, with the first being kudos to the streets guys for taking care of the issues at Pine & Vine and on Wilson Street in his ward. Gunter was in agreement.  

“We’re getting a lot of compliments about the city’s response times to issues by public works,” Mayor Gunter stated.

Second, Hooker wanted to thank Mayor Gunter for her contributions to the Celebration of Freedom.  

“Mayor Gunter’s family connections led to the city’s ability to contract with Melrose Pyrotechnics, one of the best fireworks companies in the world. Gunter also was responsible for the food vendors, Mr. Steve, the children’s entertainer and both Lou DiBello and Garrett and the Geezers performances. Finally, Gunter’s husband Rory was solely responsible for the synching of the music to the show, which so many found so moving,” Hooker said. “The entire celebration was conceived by Gunter and her family.”  

Finally, Hooker brought up the idea of the council being able to censure individual members whose actions are deemed detrimental to the council as a whole for discussion.  

Alderman Allen then stated that he wished to remind everyone that Aldermen were not to go to city employees directly but were to go through the city administrator to maintain the chain of command. Allen then stated that he would like to see a system in place where aldermen could check the status of work orders.  

Next, Allen brought up the idea of replacing some of the older water lines in the city, possibly in conjunction with any proposed future project to repair or replace aging concrete streets in Ward I. 

Finally, Allen mentioned that there had been discussion ongoing and that for $1,600, access to water and electricity for vendors could begin to be provided at Richman Park.

Alderman Blaney then briefly discussed the fall festival, stating that there were no plans in the works for 2019. Alderman Hooker then brought up the idea of a local arts fair for future discussion. Blaney then asked about sewer caps, and Scott Arbuckle reported that they were on order and should be in soon.

Finding no other business, the meeting adjourned at approximately 7:45 p.m. 

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