Collinsville OKs New Public Works Facility

By Emily Klein, Reporter

The Collinsville Public Works and Street Maintenance departments will see a new facility built within the next year complete with offices and vehicle maintenance space, which the city council agreed upon at the Monday, July 22 meeting.

The city council approved the use of Arch Images to help with architecture and interior design of a Public Works facility on Johnson Hill Road and Juda Avenue. The budget for the project shouldn’t exceed $315,000, and infrastructure work is planned to start early January. The board voted unanimously to allow the plan of building the facility,

The 7,000-square-foot building will be used for office space for public works and the street department, and there will be a training room, break room, locker and restrooms in the main building. There also will be storage for salt, gravel, pipes and trucks. Attached to the office space in the main building will be a vehicle maintenance facility with 18 bays to repair city vehicles. There also will be storage for tools and other related objects.

The objective of the design is to allow room for expansion if the city needs it, and the current building plan can host 45 full- and part-time employees. The building will also be surrounded by vegetation on a large plot of land, which was important to the board since the facility will be surrounded by residential area.

“While it’s in a central location, it’s important that we maintain that buffer of vegetation,” said City Manager Mitch Bair.

One of the other main concerns the board had about the building was ensuring it was energy efficient. The building will use stylish materials that are lightweight, but insulate the building well.

The council also discussed an ordinance that would regulate how long residents can keep trash cans on the curb, trying to combat many complaints the city gets about trash cans being left on curbs for long periods of time. After much discussion, however, the ordinance was eventually tabled.

Originally, the ordinance was proposed to be under the Title 8 Health and Safety Regulation, but many council members agreed that it didn’t fit under that title. The ordinance would allow trash cans to only be put on the curb at 5 p.m. before trash day, and must be taken off the curb before noon the day of. Director of Community Development Derek Jackson told the board the department receives weekly calls from residents complaining their neighbors leave out trash cans indefinitely, causing a nuisance. Johnson also said that many of the trash cans left out cause bug and pest problems.

Council members were confused about the language of the ordinance, saying that having an ordinance like this and handing out violations seemed harsh. Council member David Jerome also brought up that some residential lots don’t have a space to put trash cans besides the front of the house or in the garage. He mentioned that his garage is rather small, and opts to put his trash can in front of his house.

“Can’t it go at least in the front of the house?” Jerome asked Jackson. “We purposefully got cans that were not an ugly color so they could be put next to the house or in front of it without being an eyesore.”

Currently, trash cans are allowed on the side of residents’ houses, not in front of the house or garage. Carbondale, a city close to Collinsville, has a similar ordinance which makes residents have a privacy screen on the side of their house for trash cans. The board agreed that it may be harsh to make residents build screens for their trash receptacle.

“Some people don’t have the ability to wheel the can to the side of the house — I’m one of them,” Jerome said to the board. “If I can’t put it in front of my house, I have to put it in my garage.”

Board members agreed that it would be useful to at least have an ordinance regulating how long trash cans are allowed to be on the curb and where they should be stored, especially for cans that become a nuisance. However, many members of the council pointed out that how the ordinance is written now, it seems like the city will be handing out citations left and right.

“I don’t love the fact we have to have an ordinance for trash cans,” said council member Donna Green said. “I like the fact that we’re thinking about this, though.”

Green said that prior to this discussion, if a resident has a neighbor who keeps trash cans on the curb for long periods of time, there is no action the city could take. She suggested Mayor John Miller could include a comment in The Scoop, the quarterly newsletter from the city, about trash can placement. After much discussion, the ordinance was tabled in order to revise the language.

“I think it’s not about the citations, it’s about setting a standard,” said council member Jeff Stehman.

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