Shelbyville council covers wide range of topics

A proposed beer garden for the Iron Keg, along Morgan Street between the bar and the Shelby County Detention Center, was requested at a recent Shelbyville City Council meeting. The council is looking at the request and a separate beer garden license.

The Shelbyville City Council conducted quite a bit of business during a recent meeting: While liquor, trees, roads and the Chautauqua, yet again, led the discussions, other nuts and bolts issues were also discussed.

The opening prayer, Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag and the consent agenda were almost automatic. A spokesperson for a downtown lending library project could not be at the meeting, so that item was tabled, then the city had to handle insurance renewal.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield increase was 5.6% for the coming year. Commissioner Martha Firnhaber asked Derek Hayden, a local insurance broker who was in attendance, if that was in line with current increases. He relayed that it is common for some increases to be 8 or 9%. Commissioner Thom Schafer referring to the 5.6% increase said, "We can't do much better than that.'" A motion was made to accept the contract and passed unanimously.

Liquor discussions then ensued. The council temporarily suspended the council meeting on a 4-0 vote, with Mark Shanks, who has a liquor license, abstaining. They went into a liquor commission meeting. They approved two variations that would allow Joe's Pizza to serve at two wedding receptions at the Best Wedding facility. The liquor commission adjourned and the city council was called to order again, but liquor was still the topic.

There was a request to approve a beer garden at the Iron Keg. Charlie Sims of the Iron Keg made a presentation about a proposed beer garden on property the Iron Keg owns behind the bar. The bar is on Main Street. The plan would be to construct a metal pole building, 40 by 50 feet, and put an 8-foot privacy fence around it. The building would be behind the Iron Keg and the Longbranch Restaurant in the area between those buildings and the Detention Center.

"The idea is to give our customers a place to sit outside and smoke and drink and visit," Sims said. "It would still be within the zoning for business. The lot is combined with our business. There is a paragraph in the license that says that liquor cannot be served off the premises. This would be on the premises. The fence would be there, so it would not be an eye-sore."

Commissioner Schafer asked about bands coming in to play in the beer garden and Sims said it is not in their plans currently. Shelby County Sheriff Don Koonce was not able to make the meeting. However, Shelbyville Police Chief Dave Tallman relayed Koonce's concerns.

"The sheriff is very concerned about the noise level after 8 p.m.," Tallman said. "He feels it would upset the prisoners in that it might make them rowdy inside the jail."

Schafer said the idea of a beer garden is a novel idea. City Attorney Jack Kiley spoke.

"In other communities, the liquor license is not tied to the beer garden," Kiley said. "They usually have a separate application for a beer garden license."

"Well, we need to look at it if we're going to create a beer garden license," Firnhaber said.

Kiley addressed Sims: "It would make sense for us to figure out what we would want first and see if that would fit with what you are wanting."

Mayor Jeff Johnson agreed: "So, we will take it under consideration and get back with you."

Sims seemed to agree with that.

Mayor Johnson mentioned, while they were discussing liquor, that Casey's general Store had inquired about a change were they to sell hard liquor.

"We can think about that as we look at these things." Johnson said.

City Engineer Alan Spesard had road business to bring up. The first item was the contract bid for furnishing seal coat road material. There was just one bid from Howell Paving. The bid was for $61,173.50. Spesard said they had estimated it would be around $60K.

"How is that compared with last year's cost?" Firnhaber asked.

"Cost of material and spreading it has gone up," Schafer said. "Considering that, it's in line with probably about the last 5 years."

The bid was approved unanimously. Spesard then brought up an inter-governmental agreement with the State for work to be done on Sylvester Drive just west of IHI Turbo off Rt 16.

"A grant had been approved in the fall to upgrade Sylvester Drive near IHI Turbo," Spesard said. "It would be a 50/50 cost share. This would come out of the West District Fund and would be a "reimbursement agreement." The agreement was unanimously approved.

There was also an agreement to be approved for a bike path along Rt 16 out towards Walmart.

"This is for phase 1 engineering for the path project. The agreement is for 80% to be paid federal," Spesard said. "A firm has already been hired, they are just waiting on the agreement. There also is a resolution attached that needs to be approved that says the city will pay the 20%, $19,720."

"Is this something we need to do, so we can apply for the next part of the grant?" Firnhaber asked. "Yes." said Spesard. The agreement and the resolution were both passed unanimously.

Trees and the Chautauqua were discussed under other business.

Commisioner Schafer said that Wright Tree Service is in town, working for Ameren to center cut trees for power lines.

"These trees will then eventually die," Schafer said. "The company has offered to cut down the trees, which would be on the boulevard. What does not fit in their chipper, they would leave and we would be responsible for hauling them off. Now, when they get done trimming them and leave, these trees are ugly. We'll take a hard look at this, but I am leaning to remove them. We will have to eventually, anyway, at our cost. All we're out (if they remove them) is picking up what's left."

Firnhaber was concerned with the integrity of these trees, especially in high winds on the boulevard next to traffic, after they are center cut. The city crews are already going around cutting down trees on the boulevard that are tearing up sidewalks.

The 20-year discussion about what to do with the Chautauqua Building at Forest Park was addressed, again.

Commissioners Shanks, Schafer and Mayor Johnson met recently with Rick Collins the owner of Trillium Dell, a timber construction company out of Galesburg. They discussed the options about what to do with the Chautauqua Building: repair it, demolish it, replace it?

Commissioner Shanks said he will be in town again on Wednesday.

"He will give us numbers for repair of the trusses and for demolition and facts and figures on replacement buildings," Shanks said.

Commissioner Firnhaber asked if a company out of Galesburg can give numbers on a project that local people may be doing. She also asked about their engineering fee. Shanks said it was going to be lower than the money allocated.

Shanks reported that Collins said that if a structure is 30% damaged they don't recommend saving it. Shanks reported that Collins said the Chautauqua was about 5% deteriorated. Firnhaber questioned that.

"When I look at the Chautauqua, I think, just a 5% estimate (of detrioration)!" she said, incredulously.

Schafer replied that this is the start to compile the information Firnhaber was looking for.

"I'm not a structural engineer," Schafer said. "There are deficiencies for sure (in the Chautauqua), but I'll defer to their expertise."

In other business, the city approved the sale of 319 N. Douglas for $2500, minus commission. They also approved a general license for Strasburg Tree Service.

The council adjourned to go into executive session concerning litigation.

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