Villa Grove city council discusses parking issues

The Villa Grove city council met on April 26 for their Committee of the Whole meeting, with all aldermen, plus Mayor Eversole Gunter, Clerk Osborne, Administrator Athey, Public Works director Lake and Chief of Police Rea in attendance.

After the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the mayor called for public comments, and finding none, moved on to the agenda.

First, Administrator Athey made her report. She stated that the RFP for the sale of the utility is ongoing, with different tweaks being suggested and made by her and the city attorney. She also noted that summer rec was in the process of getting the fields ready to play, as well as purchasing new jerseys and equipment for the teams. 

Next, Mr. Lake updated the council on public works projects. He noted that the first truck load of mulch had been delivered to the Richman Park playground, and that the second load was expected soon. He also noted that he is working with Summer Rec director Heath Wilson on coordinating the prepping of all fields in VG.

Chief Rea then made a brief report, noting that his squad was continuing to address the ordinance violations in town, in addition to their other duties. 

Mayor Eversole Gunter then made her report, stating that with Covid restrictions being what they are, the city couldn’t host any Alumni weekend events. She was hopeful that change would come that could allow it, but at this time such changes hadn’t taken place. She then noted that the Fireworks display, set for July 2, was still a go, since folks would be able to easily social distance at the event, including the bike parade. Possible children’s activities were still being reviewed for inclusion at this time. 

Mayor Eversole Gunter then called on the council for any other items that they wished to discuss, and Alderman Blaney brought up the idea of doing away with wards and just having the top vote getters in any given election serve on the council.  Alderman Hooker countered by saying that a move like that could result in all six council members living in the same ward, and that he couldn’t support that idea. 

After a brief discussion, the Mayor then called for the discussion of new business, which consisted of:
* Garbage franchise agreement with Advanced Disposal/Waste Management.

* Three-hour Parking w/$100 fine per violation.

* Parking ordinance draft.

* Sludge truck repair.

* Hiring of temp/seasonal public works help.

* Annual TIF fund transfer.

* SGR Common Ground Conference a b c.

* Rebranding of Senior Center – Zest for Life Center; signage.

* Other items brought before the Council for discussion.

After having solicited four other waste hauling companies and getting no responses, the council discussed the possibility of renewing the contract with United Waste, who recently purchased Advanced. After much discussion, the idea of signing a shorter contract for now and allowing the company to prove themselves for 12 months before entering into a five-year agreement as they were pushing for, was recommended for Administrator Athey. 

Next, the council discussed making parking on certain city property a three-hour maximum, with $100 fines as a way of discouraging people from parking on city lots and parks. 

Next, the council got into a spirited discussion about some proposed changes to the parking ordinance, with alderman Garrett taking exception to certain verbiage with the document itself about parking on grass rather than on concrete or gravel. The mayor pointed out that the police had the ability to show discretion in issue violations, and after much back and forth, the council moved on to the next item.

Consensus was quickly reached on repairing the sludge truck, on hiring seasonal help, and on attendance at the Common Ground Conference. Alderman Griffith then questioned the decision to rename the Senior center to the Zest for Life Center, but the majority were open to the new ideas, given the lack of participation in senior center activities. 

Finding no other business, the council then moved to adjourn at approximately 7:20 p.m.

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