The Village of Oblong continues to look at ways to improve the village, and how to pay for it.
During the Wednesday night village board meeting Mayor Teresa Fielder and trustees reported on, discussed and approved a number of items that could mean big things for the village. First up was report from Trustee Keith Waldrop on the status of two potential state grants. Waldrop has been working with State Sen. Dale Righter on a grant to resurface the walking path around the lake, install new lights and make other improvements estimated at around $70,000.
The second grant would resurface and make infrastructure improvements to South Range from the four-way stop to the high school at a cost of around $1.2 million. Both grants are being submitted by Righter with the lesser grant looking very positive, reported Waldrop. The larger grant is still in the early stages.
The village will not be submitting a grant request through the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission for work on the sewer lagoon. While the village did gather enough completed surveys from residents, a clause in the application states a village must have a minimum billing of $31 a month for sewer. Oblong currently only bills around $17 a month. Trustee Dave Hasty said if they raised the sewer rate that much they could afford to do the work without the grant. So they decided not submit a grant application.
Hasty did say that having the surveys complete now gives them the opportunity to apply for other grants.
Development in the Colmark TIF district is moving a couple of steps forward. Trustee Bill Burke reported that changes to the original covenant would allow for multifamily dwellings, modular as opposed to mobile homes, and limit the size of out buildings. The changes would have to be approved by all parties, including all Phase I property owners before moving forward.
Burke noted that a great deal of the original covenant requirements have not be adhered to over the years, and that one limitation is no commercial business could be operated within the TIF district.
The holiday season is coming more quickly that most people like to think about. The Oblong Boy Scouts were granted use of the park for Christmas in the Park on Dec. 8. Resolutions to close Main Street for the Homecoming parade on Sept. 20, and Halloween parade on Oct. 26 were both approved.
The village did approve moving forward on taking possession of the property at 313 N. Wilson. The village has around $1,900 invested in legal and mowing fees in the property that has been abandoned by the family. A search resulted in one lien on the property that has been released by the creditor. Fielder will direct the village attorney to draw up change-of-deed papers for the property. Plans for the property include demolition and resale.
In other reports Fielder said the Oblong Dog Park sponsored by Leadership Crawford County has around $6,900 of the needed $7.500 for fencing. This month's Home Town Pride award went to Letty Homan at 202 S. Adams. She also reported that the Illinois Department of Transportation has changed the requirements for achievement signs posted with the name of the village.
Village trustees had a first reading and will vote next month on the an ordinance prohibiting the placement of a cannabis dispensary within the village limits. Local municipalities can prohibit the placement even thought state law allows their existence. Those wanting to add input to the issue should contact the mayor or village trustee.
Police Chief Chad Pusey reported only three arrests during the Crawford County Fair. He also reported that his department issued 16 citations last month, had 15 offences reported, handled two traffic accidents and had 133 calls for service.
Two other beautification and recognition projects are also in the works. Keith Waldrop reported on a proposed mural dedicated to former Oblong Police Chief Jack Fancil, who was killed in the line of duty 49 years ago. Waldrop is working with the same artist who did the Harmon's mural and the new mural in Robinson.
50/4 Oblong is the name of a new philanthropic organization proposed for the village. Hasty explained they are looking to establish a group of 50 people dedicated to donating $100 four times a year that would go directly in to the beautification of the village. If achieved the group would be a separate entity from the village board, with the ability to raise and spend $5,000 a quarter, or $20,000 a year on projects.
For more information on 50/4 Oblong interested individuals are welcome to attend the Ad Hoc Committee meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28 in the village hall.