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The April 11 City Council meeting provided a series of ups and downs more extreme than most. A night full of setbacks, holds, and apologies had some glimmers of good news, including an increased grant of $1.3 million toward the Emerson/Green Bay intersection project.

Public Works Director Dave Stoneback announced the good news. “We were successful in getting an additional $1.3 million,” he said. “We are moving forward in obtaining the additional $800,000 in STP funds.”

The problem started when bids came in well above the engineer’s estimates for project costs. The City expected and authorized about $8.33 million, and bids came in at over $11.18 million. City staff at the time said they would seek more grant funding to fill the gap, and Mr. Stoneback said Sat Nagar, City Engineer, was able to find at least $1.3 million from CMAP.

“Thank you very much for the great work in such a short period of time,” said Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward.

Mr. Nagar said he expected an answer on the additional STP funding within a couple of weeks. Council voted on April 6 to proceed with the project regardless – any additional grant money is money the City does not have to borrow on the bond market. 

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, voted against the project, saying she had some concerns with the plans as presented.

Council also agreed to participate in a blight-reduction program funded by the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Using a grant of $455,000, the City plans to acquire and demolish between one and four residential properties in certain census tracts.

The number of properties to be demolished depends largely on acquisition costs, said Nora Holden-Corbett, the City’s Grants and Compliance Specialist. Somewhat ironically, in order to acquire blighted property then demolish structures using taxpayer funds, the City must first clear back property taxes off such blighted properties.