Aledo leaders consider letter to Pritzker

Cala Smoldt/Correspondent
The Mercer County Family YMCA is set to begin construction on their expansion project the week of May 11.

ALEDO — Mayor Chris Hagloch is reaching out to other Mercer County cities and villages to get their input and consider writing a letter detailing how leaders throughout the county feel about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s phased plan to reopen Illinois — following discussion during a video chat council meeting May 4.

Some aldermen expressed their displeasure with the governor’s plan.

“I think we should start opening up our businesses. What I believe the governor is doing is not legal, and I think we should start opening up some of the businesses, if not all of them, with social distancing,” said Aldermen Barry Cooper.

Alderwoman Ila Bertrand had concerns, “Probably half of people going in and out of stores did not have masks on. I don’t know how well people are following directions. If we had social distancing — I don’t know that people would follow that.”

City Administrator Chris Sullivan said because the city didn’t close the businesses, they don’t have the authority to officially reopen them. “We haven’t asked any of them to close, the only thing we closed is the public parks.”

He said if a business doesn’t have to have state licensing, he doesn’t think there’s a penalty for opening back up; “I think that’s an individual choice the businesses need to make.”

“We aren’t, as as police department, nor are we as a city, attempting to enforce executive orders of the governor, however, that’s up to the businesses to do that, that would depend on their licensing.” Sullivan is also the city’s police chief.

In a daily public address to the state on May 6, Gov. Pritzker responded to a reporter question asking if businesses that open “too soon” could risk losing their state licensure, he responded, “We will be looking at each of those businesses and determining whether we have the ability to do that and when we could do that.”

Hagloch posed the question to the council: “What could we do as a small community to relieve some of these businesses and get them back open?”

The council was agreeable to have him reach out to other Mercer County mayors, and village presidents for their input.

“We’re not Cook County, and I think we know how to social distance. We’ve had enough practice at it now. Residents are concerned and worried about it now…. (they’re) not going to gather around groups they don’t feel comfortable around.

“...Sometimes it just takes one to get that wheel going,” he said. “It’s a touchy situation too - because we don’t want to do something that’s going to be an issue for the health department — we work very well with them."

The council also discussed reopening city parks in the coming days… three days later, on Thursday, officials announced they would reopen city parks on Friday (May 8).

Aldermen approved a second month of utility relief for Aledo residents. They’ll see billing at half the normal water and sewer rates for the month of April, billed out May 15 and due June 5. It doesn’t affect the other portions of the city bill, gas or garbage rates. This measure also continues deferral of liens, shut-offs and waives building permit fees for another month.

Last year, the Mercer County Family YMCA announced a $4 million capital campaign project to expand their facility at 401 S.W. 2nd avenue. Work on that project is set to begin May 11. Aldermen approved a requested partial street closure on S.W. 4th street between 2nd ave and 3rd ave. The west bound lane will remain open and the street will be marked for one-way traffic only during the period of the closure. The closure allows for contractor trailers to be stored on the street for the duration of construction.

According to an article on the campaign last year, additions planned include an auxiliary gym, kids' gym, wellness center and weight room, family changing center, intergenerational room, meeting and educational rooms, expanded lobby/entrance, serving/teaching kitchen, and additional parking.

Mercer County YMCA CEO Sarah Brown said the anticipated completion date is February 2021.

The council approved the Reverse Osmosis Membrane Replacement Project in the amount of $95,862, $5,862 over this year’s capital improvement budget. According to Public Works Director Justin Blaser, the difference will come from other projects that came in under budget. Current filters were installed and put into service in 2014. The cost covers purchase and installation of 126 replacement membrane elements, 42 pressure vessel head seals, and related parts.

The city is submitting a USDA Rural Business Development Grant application seeking $30,000 with the assistance of 353 Court, LLC, in action taken Monday night. If granted, the money would go toward assisting downtown business owners with coaching, mentoring, aiding with growth, and developing emerging entrepreneurs - with the assistance of 353 Court.

The review period for the application is set to be through May, 2020. “Notification of approval wouldn’t be until August or September, 2020, due to COVID-19,” documents state.

Aldermen also approved:

• Donating the annually budgeted amount of $5,000 to the Mercer County Family Crisis Center

• A request for proposals for the sale of property in Progress Park - a portion of Lot 15 of Subdivision 2, 4.16 acres.

• A request for proposals seeking a firm for city branding and imaging services.