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City Council returned to business April 28 after a spring break and jumped right up. Rats, green power and newspaper boxes were among the items discussed, along fresh gelato. Spring is definitely in the air.

Ah, rats. As beautiful as the planters and foliage are along Sherman Avenue in front of Barnes & Noble, those planters have apparently become home to rats and their burrows. Council voted to spend just over $40,000 to install rodent abatement and replace some of the plantings in the 14 planters along Sherman. Funding comes from the Washington National TIF account.

“It seems like we want to be moving the rodents,” said Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward. “But some will be going on to heaven.”

Next came the selection of a provider of electricity to consumers under the City’s aggregation contract. Electricity aggregation allows the City to negotiate an electricity rate for all residents who do not opt out of the aggregation group. Once again, the City selected a power provider who promises that all power comes from renewable sources, or the 100% green option. Illinois Power Marketing, doing business as Homefield Energy, will be the provider.

Turning to the newspaper boxes, Director of Public Works Suzette Robinson said there were 122 such structures in downtown alone. On the whole, though, the trend is toward fewer boxes Citywide. In 2012 there were 298 boxes at 59 locations. At present, there are 223 boxes at 46 locations, Ms. Robinson said.

The decrease creates an opportunity to consolidate, Ms. Robinson said. City-purchased housings cost about $1,400 per four-box unit. The City would they require a permit for the use of each box, though it would not charge a fee.

“How are you going to decide who gets to put their literature in a box?” asked Ald. Rainey.

The City will aim for diversity, responded Ms. Robinson. “You’re getting into trouble,” said Ald. Rainey. The matter was just up for discussion and no action was taken, so it remains to be seen what will come next. Worth noting was the absence of any newspaper boxes on the west side of town, a fact pointed out by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward. “You noticed that, too?” said Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward.

Fresh gelato is coming to the west side, though. Council voted to grant a special use permit to Frio Gelato at 1701 Simpson St., then suspended the rules to pass the permit immediately. Frio Gelato currently sells gelato wholesale, but now plans to sell directly to the public as well. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, for one, said that she plans to stop for gelato on her way to City Hall – the shop will be right on her route.