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From the September 24th edition of The Cairo Citizen...

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Cairo Council takes action on agenda items at meeting

The Cairo City Council took action on several agenda items at its Tuesday meeting.

Councilmember Lorenzo Nelson made a motion, seconded by Councilmember Richard Pitcher, to adopt the meeting agenda.

Three visitors were on the agenda to meet with the council.

Bob Swenson, SIU

Urban Design Class

Swenson provided the council with an update on what the Design class has been doing in Cairo in addition to Cairo Vison 20/20.

Swenson told the council the class’ major project this summer was the Shotgun House preservation/restoration.

“I hope to continue in greater depth next year,” Swenson said.

Swenson told the council this is the third fall semester SIU students have came to Cairo.

“We have done a lot of work related to Cairo,” Swenson said. “The maps at Cairo Chamber of Commerce represent that effort and work.”

Swenson explained the class also needs to work with the council and hopes the administraiton would create an advisory group to provide someone to work with directly -- on projects that mean something to Cairo.

“The initial project on the Toll House came from a class 10 years ago,” Swenson said.

He told the council the Urban Design Class will be meeting and working with the Cairo School District to create plans to update and make energy efficient the old Junior High School building.

Phil Campbell, Cairo Development Proposal

Phil Campbell, who currently lives in Florida, but maintains an address in Herrin, Ill., discussed a two-pronged proposal to “promote tourism in Illinois, assist in rebuilding and revitalization of downtown Cairo, create employment opportunities and turn one of nature’s marvels into a destination point.”

According to Campbell, to accomplish the objective he would lease Fort Defiance Park, including the Toll House building. The Toll House would house a bar and grille to attract people.

The five-year plan for the park includes the immediate rebuilding of existing R.V. campsites, with sewer hookups at each site; designated specific tent camping; construction of permanent restrooms and shower house; and rebuilding of the stage and observation deck.

A variety of events and festivals would be planned for the park to attract tourists, according to Campbell.

Within the five year plan, Campbell projects the rent payments to the city would be $100,000 per year and 220,000 new tourist visits to the city.

If the five year projections are reached, by the 10th year, Campbell estimates 500,000 tourists per year and the annual rent to the city to reach approximately $230,000.

In addition to the plan for Fort Defiance, Campbell presented an overview of a downtown restoration project, which would bring those tourists into the city, and get them to spending tourist dollars.

Campbell’s proposal calls for renovating approximately 12 existing downtown sites. Within five years, the properties would house “motels, coffee houses, restaurants, bars, dance halls, adult entertainment establishments, liquor stores, gas station/convenience store, ice cream shop, camping store, pizza parlor and whatever other enterprises tourists demand”.

“We must bring in tourists to revitalize Cairo,” Campbell said. “The people who are left here aren’t enough to support new businesses.”

The council told Campbell they were unsure what they could do legally regarding Fort Defiance and the Toll House building with the amount of grant monies which have been used in that area.

“The park is the draw to Cairo,” Campbell said.

Cairo Treasurer Preston Ewing told Campbell and the council that the park’s deed from the state of Illinois indicates the park must be operated by the city.

In addition, according to Ewing, no more than 25 percent of the Toll House facility can be leased out. The space leased out must also maintain the theme of the proposed museum.

Ewing also told the council and Campbell that when the park is not operated as a public facility, the property reverts back to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Some of the council expressed concern about the plans downtown including “adult entertainment” venues.

Councilmember Tyrone Coleman expressed concern since a city ordinance prohibits that type of business in Cairo.

“From my standpoint, adult entertainment businesses are not negotiable,” Coleman said.

The council asked that Campbell present a different type of business proposal with more information in the outline.

Councilmember Elbert “Bo” Purchase said he feels a planning commission would be ideal in this situation.

“I’m all for what he wants,” Purchase said. “We need the money. I think a planning commission is a first step.”

Mayor Judson Childs asked the council to each recommend someone for the planning commission. The planning commission will then contact Campbell to discuss further business plans.

Kyle Smith, Alexander County 911 coordinator

Smith addressed the enhanced 911 system the Alexander County ETSB is working on.

Smith said he was there to find out if the city would be interested in having an open dialogue between the city, county and ETSB concerning shared dispatching costs.

Currently, the city provides 911 dispatch and receives approximately $1,500 per month.

When the Enhanced 911 service come online and the 911 call center is located in the sheriff’s office, the costs for dispatching would be shared between the county, city and ETSB, but exact costs to each entity hasn’t yet been worked out.

Childs questioned if the city’s dipatchers would be offered the opportunity to transfer to the 911 call center. Smith told the council the dispatchers would be given the opportunity to transfer, but couldn’t guarantee the dispatchers would retain their jobs.

Childs expressed concern that the city’s dispatchers would not be guaranteed employment if the center is moved from its current location.

Projected costs, once the 911 service goes online, is estimated at $141,000 for both salary and benefits at $10 per hour; $162,144 at $12 per hour and $193,000 at $15 per hour.

Smith said the costs would be split three ways, but couldn’t indicate how the split will occur.

“The council will need to have more discussion about this,” Child said.

Ewing asked how it would be handled if with three payees, what would happen if one payee failed to pay.

“That issue would have to be addressed by a lawyer,” Smith told the council.

“We all will work together to work something out for the benefit of the entire community,” Smith said.

In other business, Pitcher made a motion, seconded by Councilmember Kathy McAllister, to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. The motion passed.

Nelson made a motion, seconded by Councilmember Linda Jackson, to approve payroll and the bill list. The motion passed.

Pitcher made a motion, seconded by Purchase, to adopt Resolution 2009-315, a resolution of support and commitment of funds. The monies, from the Motor Fuel Tax funds, represent a 25 percent match to a $406,700 CDAP grant to repair the sewer at the north end of Cairo, near Elmwood Housing. With the vote, the council committed $101,700 in motor fuel tax funds as the 25 percent match.

Jackson made a motion, seconded by Purchase, to allow the treasurer and city clerk to close the city of Cairo Rural Business Opportunity Grant USDA/Transloading Facility bank account. City Clerk Lorrie Hesselrode explained to the council the funds have been depleted.

McAllister made a motion, seconded by Purchase, to allow the treasurer and city clerk to close the city of Cairo St. Mary’s Park ballpark fund bank account.

Purchase made a motion, seconded by Jackson, to accept the bid of John Maginel for 2000 Elmwood School bricks at $.35 per brick. Nelson passed.

Pitcher made a motion, seconded by Purchase, to accept the bid of Evelyn L. Rubinas and Lori G. Smith for the property located at 1606 Washington Ave.

Following a brief executive session to discuss personnel matters, Coleman addressed the issues of children walking in the streets and lights, or lack of, on bicycles.

Pitcher thanked Suzy and John Holland for help in getting trees trimmed in St. Mary’s Park.

Pitcher also said he addressed with Coleman about the police department addressing cars on the sides of streets without current registration stickers.

McAllister announced that she and Purchase are hosting a Back to School cookout at St. Mary’s Park this weekend.