Eight of the nine Hillsboro Planning Commission members attended their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Also in attendance were Mayor Don Downs, City Engineer Jeremy Connor, Code Enforcement officer Mike Lee, City Clerk Cory Davidson, City Planner Jonathan Weyer, and a concerned citizen, Chris Garner.
Connor sought input about the Seward Street Bridge proposed project. His firm, Hurst-Rosche Engineering, wants the new structure to fit in with other recent community developments like the plans for Central Park, for which the bridge and Seward Street serve as a northern boundary.
He explained to the commission the difference between two options under consideration – a bridge with open abutments or another with one closed abutment, which is the current design. The present bridge is close to or over 100 years old. The grant which Hillsboro seeks is “...highly competitive,” and public input is one of the criteria. Connor hopes walking and bike paths to be developed at the park can be a part of bridge planning.
Connor gave commissioners who wished them forms for their comments. Pictures of the options may be viewed at city hall, and members of the public who wish to submit input can e-mail Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mrs. Garner was present to ask the commission to consider recommending sidewalk work on North Oak Street north from the Tremont Street intersection. She said the street itself is often used as access to Hillsboro (incoming drivers on Routes 16 and 127 who are aware of the hazards in turning left at the top of the hill to enter Main Street) use Oak. Also, when events like Old Settlers close Main Street, Oak becomes heavily traveled. Those times make safe sidewalks for pedestrians essential, but the ones now in use have fractures caused by tree roots. Many are brick sidewalks, but they are grass and weed covered. Her role was to call attention to the plight of pedestrians in that area of town.
Mayor Downs reiterated the need for downtown infrastructures; he, Weyer, and Hurst-Rosche are revisiting Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) grant, which again is highly competitive and for which the city has been turned down twice. The undersurface needs (clay tiles serve the storm drains, and they are ancient; lead pipes serve as water inlet pipes to buildings, and more than one building is served by one pipe) are separate from above-ground needs, but the city needs financial help for both.
Barb Hewitt gave the Imagine Hillsboro report: the Fall Festival was a success. The Christmas Fest will be on the first weekend of December, and the Downtown Festival Committee has joined Parks and Recreation.
In his Hillsboro Community Development Corporation update, Don Karban said he expects ground-breaking for a single family dwelling in the Hickory/North Oak Street property to occur next week. The Natural Resources Committee still needs a chairperson since Kendra Wright now serves on the city council. He also told the group about a newly-formed organization called the Bike Club which is sponsoring two rides on Friday, Oct. 29; it will have a short ride around town and a longer four-mile route for more ambitious riders. The Volunteer Imagine Hillsboro committee painted the house behind the Harkey House (its rental supports the Harkey House and the Blackman-Evans house maintained by the Historical Society). Some touch-up work remains.
Little has changed since the last vacant property update, but new teeth may be added to existing ordinances. A formal recommendation may be forthcoming at the commission’s next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Questions were asked about the status of the billboard across from NAPA and the Presbyterian Church because of a potential safety hazard. Mayor Downs told the commission that although the city owns the billboard, it is leased for years into the future, so a complex situation exists.
Commissioners in attendance besides those giving reports were Mike Ryan, Mark Osborn, Dave Powell, Chairman Tom Gooding, Dave Booher, and Michelle Ondrey (by phone).
The public is welcome to attend the Nov. 16 meeting; it begins at 12:30 p.m. in city hall chambers.
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