By SAMANTHA PIDDE
Minor conflict was voiced recently when the Mount Carroll City Council approved an ordinance rezoning a portion of East Benton Street that will be used for the construction of a new Carroll County senior center.
During its Dec. 11 meeting, the council discussed the property owned by Harold Andresen at the eastern edge of Mount Carroll along East Benton Street, just west of the Illinois 64 intersection.
The Harold A. and Marilyn Kay Andresen Charitable Trust is paying for the construction of a 6,000 square-foot senior center building, estimated to cost $300,000, along with the purchase of the land earlier this year for $96,100.
The facility will serve as a community center with offices for several local agencies, including the Senior Center, Carroll County Transit and the Veterans Assistance Commission.
Ald. Kevin Powers voiced disappointment that construction work had begun at the property before the re-zoning ordinance was passed. Mayor Carl Bates pointed out that a building permit had been approved and the city had agreed to re-zone the property. The ordinance had just not been ready until now.
Powers expressed displeasure with the entire process, saying the construction and the city's plans to offer water and sewer infrastructure to the property have not been discussed enough. He noted that when the matter first was broached, he was against it. He added that the matter was not spoken about again until now and the creation of infrastructure is being pushed through.
Mayor Bates denied this, saying they have been talking about the issue for the past couple of months. He added that when Powers first spoke against it, the estimated cost was approximately $200,000. Now estimates are closer to $70,000, with Sewer and Water Supt. Bill Zink saying he feels his crew can do it for $50,000.
"The reality is it has been in front of you for months," Bates said, noting the council just approved a permit resolution from MSA for the project, saying that was the time to discuss the project.
Powers added that he has heard from several people that they do not want the Senior Center to move from the downtown area. He said this "gift" of a new center and new infrastructure will not generate tax dollars.
Ald. Mike Risko agreed, saying that possibly the city should not have to pay for all of the infrastructure costs, asking, "Why can't the Senior Center put some skin in the game?"
Ald. Joe Grim said the city's "skin in the game" is putting the proper infrastructure in for development. and Mayor Bates said the extension of water and sewer to that area will increase surrounding property values which could allow for redevelopment in that area.
Council members voted unanimously to re-zone property from industrial to commercial.