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By Carmen Ensinger
Carrollton Mayor Mike Snyder announced at the Aug. 12 City Council meeting that the council had approved, at a special meeting held on Aug. 10, to pursue a grant through the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program, which is administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
This is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space.
“This opportunity came up very fast and they gave us roughly a month to get everything together and get the application submitted,” Snyder said. “Greg Hillis, with Benton and Associates, had already done some work for us in good faith and come up with some improvements we sorely needed at Fry Park.”
At the Aug. 10 meeting, Hillis, consulting engineer for Benton and Associates, presented information about the requirements for application for the grant and provided specific details of the project for the grant for the city.
The deadline for submission of the grant is Sept. 1 and the city can apply for up to 50 percent of the project cost which is approximately $400,000.
“Some of the improvements we decided on include new playground equipment, upgrading the bathrooms, adding a walking path which would tie into the bike and walking path that we will be getting through the other grant and getting us some handicap parking,” Snyder said. “We will be updating the tennis courts as well but instead of updating both of them, we will update one of them and turn the other one into two batting cages.”
Benton and Associates charged $5,000 to prepare the grant application. The total proposed budget for the project, including the CPA report cost and the design fees of $51,000 is $393,000.
Hillis emphasized the need for community support for such a project. To apply for the grant, the city would need to make a presentation in Springfield and having interested Carrollton officials and residents attend the presentation in Springfield in support of the project would make for a stronger application.
Hillis suggested holding public meetings and to include letters of support from local businesses and show evidence of funding sources and the city’s commitment to the project.
While the grant application is due in by Sept. 1, state consideration of the application might not take place until December of 2021 or January of 2022. If accepted, the time frame could begin in June or July of 2022. In addition to securing a loan from the bank, the city would have time to conduct fundraising to be applied to the city’s cost share.
The grant would provide $100,000 up front with the other $100,000 to be paid during construction and upon completion of the project. The city would have up to two years to complete the project.
The city would be responsible for removing the existing playground equipment before the new equipment could be installed. Benton and Associates would be responsible for creating the design of the final plans of the project.
“We had such a short time to prepare for this, but we thought it was a really good opportunity for the city and our parks,” Snyder said. “Basically, we are getting everything half price and if we are chosen to receive the grant, we will have plenty of time to come up with the funding. We already have an additional $50,000 from the extra grant on the bike path.”
Alderman Larry Gillingham agreed it was a good grant for the city to pursue.
“I am behind this 100 percent, which is probably a switch for me, in fact I made the motion to approve it,” he said. “But I think it is really a good thing. We have to think bigger than within our own self and think ahead. Everyone I have talked to about this has been excited. I think we can meet the parameters of the grant and I think this is the first step in improving more areas in our city.”
Gillingham said now is the time for the people of Carrollton to step up and show their interest in their community.
“Anyone in this community is welcome to come and participate in these meetings and certainly welcome to come to the public meetings we have on this project,” he said. “We have plenty of time to get the money to proceed with this. I think this is going to help our park and our young people. I think we are on the move and we are doing it the right way.”
In other action, the council approved a supplemental Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) resolution in the amount of $13,000.
“We have to get permission from the state to use the money we have in our MFT fund,” Public Works Director Steve Rosentreter said. “The money in there is for road maintenance, but this money was used to put in a culvert on Brooklane after it washed out, and we had to make a resolution to make the state happy.”
Mayor Snyder praised City Clerk Donna Nonnemann for the work she has been doing on the Carrollton City Codes.
“She has been working diligently on this since she came on board with us,” he said. “She deserves a lot of praise because she has been going all the way on this and really taking care of business for us.”
Dee Darr was approved to take the place of Barb Wilson on the Pool Board. Wilson has been a long-time member of the Pool Board and Snyder thanked her for her many years of dedication to the Carrollton Pool.
Police Chief Mike McCartney asked the council to appoint Roodhouse Police Chief Kyle Robison as a part-time police officer for the city.
“We still have two openings for part time officers and I think Kyle will be a great asset to our department,” McCartney said. “He said would even be willing to ride along and work with our new officer.”
Before the is adjourned, aldermen are asked if they have anything they would like to discuss. Alderman Tim Reif, who wasn’t present in person because he was in quarantine, but was present on speakerphone, wanted to speak on County Market.
“Last week, they only had 16 orders in two days,” he said. “That is not our community supporting a grocery store. We have this wonderful opportunity here but we are not showing this company, who wants to put a store here, that we are ready to support it. So, I want to encourage people to use that service.”