Galesburg OKS lawsuit payout, motion to create plan for community center

Samuel Lisec
Galesburg Register-Mail

GALESBURG — Members of Galesburg’s City Council approved a $180,000 settlement offer to a Galesburg man who has sued the city and four Galesburg police officers for violating his civil rights.

The settlement offer was approved in a 5-1 vote on Monday, with council member Bradley Hix voting against it and council members Kevin Wallace, Dwight White, Jaclyn Smith-Esters, Sarah Davis and Larry Cox voting in favor. Council member Wayne Dennis was absent.

The council members had no questions or comments on the item before voting. 

'Champ' Coleman lawsuit:City weighs $180K settlement after Galesburg police accused of racism, wrongful arrest

Now approved by the city council, the settlement still needs to be accepted by the court and Steven “Champ” Coleman II, who initiated the lawsuit.

If the settlement is accepted, the city will pay Coleman $180,000 and forgive approximately $3,100 in fines and fees for his former business, the Uptown Bar & Grill, 74 N. Chambers St.

The settlement would not count as an admission of liability by the city and would release the city and four officers from the pending lawsuit that Coleman filed against the city and four officers on May 8, 2019.

Coleman sued the city and four officers for allegedly violating his civil rights in a June 19, 2019, incident inside the now closed Uptown Bar & Grill, which Coleman opened in 2016.

Coleman alleged he was arrested without legal justification and as a result suffered damages including the loss of liberty, physical pain, emotional distress and financial damages including medical expenses, attorney fees and bond money. 

Coleman, who is African American, also alleged his equal protections under the law were violated by Galesburg officers due to racism. He says he also was the target of a pattern of harassment for years as a result of his prior career with the Galesburg Police Department.

Residents weigh in:Open house prompts public opinions on city options with Churchill as community center

Galesburg council votes to create community center master plan

The city council approved hiring the Farnsworth Group to create a “master plan study” for what programs and facilities would be accommodated in a new community recreation center.

The agreement was approved in a 4-2 vote with council member Bradley Hix voting against it, and council member Larry Cox abstaining. Dennis was absent.

The agreement had been tabled twice amid the divided council’s long-running debate over the importance and cost of creating a new community recreation center for the public of Galesburg.

Now approved, the city will pay the Farnsworth Group $18,800 plus time and material to meet with the mayor, council members, and city staff to establish priorities, program needs and identify the space and other amenities needed for those agreed upon needs and priorities.

The professional services will also include a tour of two previously completed community center projects nearby, an evaluation of the existing Churchill Junior High School building and an evaluation of constructing a new building to house the programs instead of renovating Churchill.

Previous action:City acquires Churchill building, stalls on proceeding with master plan

Update on Hawthorne and Broadview

During the meeting’s public speaking section, Interim City Manager Wayne Carl provided an update on the status of Hawthorne Pool’s renovation.

Carl said that the city plans to post the bid documents for the repairs to the facility’s steel columns in July but that a consultant determined that the rusting to the columns isn’t as bad as initially expected. However with current construction costs, the overall cost of the project is not projected to change.

Jeannette Chernin expressed concern about the status of the Broadview Inn and its open entryways as Railroad Days is slated to begin this week. Carl affirmed that the city plans to have the former inn walked-through and re-boarded up ahead of the festivities in the public square. 

Council extends public speaking time, other ordinances, resolutions

The city council approved an amendment to the city’s public speaking ordinance, extending the time allotted to each public speaker from 3 minutes to 5 minutes. 

The city council approved allowing the city to sell approximately 2.96 acres of property at W. Carl Sandburg Drive to a developer that submits a proposal to create a community-based outpatient clinic to be leased for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The council’s agenda states that city staff believe there are at least three different developers interested in purchasing the land for $250,000. 

The city council unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s municipal code regulating beekeeping. According to the council’s agenda, the Illinois Department of Agriculture requires all beekeepers to register with the IDOA and be inspected. 

The amendment now requires every person maintaining or keeping bees to provide the city a copy of their IDOA registration and inspection certificate. All apiaries must also be identified with the Illinois registration number in weatherproof lettering, provide a source of water and “a need to requeen if there are aggressive characteristics.”

The city council approved the transfer of Tax Increment Financing funds for respective facade grant agreements with Iron Spike Brewing Company and The Bar 65. The council also approved TIF funds for redeveloper assistance for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony’s project at 95 N. Seminary St.

The total amount of TIF funds allocated for the three different projects amounted to $218,146 and were unanimously approved.

The council unanimously approved accepting a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and authorized spending approximately $125,00 for a new Galesburg Fire Department training tower.

The council unanimously approved initiating the demolition process for properties located at 701 N. Prairie St., 213 Pine St., 1169 Lombard St. and 1145 E. South St.