By Stephanie Malench
The City of Highland held its first City Council meeting of 2021 on January 4 via teleconference. The first order of business was Mayor Joe Michaelis proclaiming the month of January Radon Action Month. Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas and is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States (number one among non-smokers).
One in 15 homes in the United States has elevated levels of radon and is possible in any home even if other homes in a neighborhood do not have elevated radon. The purpose of the proclamation is to encourage residents to have their homes tested.
The City Council passed one resolution. The resolution was in support of fair housing practices ,in recognition “that the economic stability of the city depends upon stable, integrate, and balanced patterns…and that discriminatory acts and unlawful housing practices contribute to the formation and preservation of segregated neighborhoods, and interfere with the achievement of stable, integrated and balanced living patterns” “thereby affecting the quality of daily life of the citizens of the city and depriving [them] of the benefits of interracial, inter-religious, and intercultural association”.
The above practices are defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Block Grant Regulations and are required for the city to use government funds for housing projects.
A notice was approved to secure bids to replace the water main from the water treatment plant to Prarie Rd to be paid for with funds from the water distribution account.
Four ordinances were approved. The first three pertained to properties at 907 Main St., 911 Main St., and 913 Main St., all being developed by TJO Holdings. The first ordinance authorizes the interim city manager to execute the amended development agreement and the second is the amended development agreement for 907 Main St to the previous development agreement dated April 6, 2020. The developer has decided that the 1.1 million renovation and improvements are not feasible without city assistance. The city has agreed to provide up to 20% of the total project costs in incentives to the developer and is to come from the city’s portion of the incremental taxes and sales taxes generated from the property.
The remaining ordinances passed pertain to the City’s intent to purchase the empty lots at 911 and 913 Main St. for $10 to construct a new city park, named “Plaza Park”. The space, adjacent to the City Square was determined necessary by the City as a result of COVID-19 to provide a safe place for citizens to gather, socialize, eat, drink and enjoy games and events. Plaza Park will be a new public space for events, festivals, food vendors, bocce ball and bags leagues and more.
The City will construct four new ADA compliant public restrooms, picnic tables, checkers/chess tables, sidewalks and new lighting and camera surveillance so residents feel safe and comfortable as well as add additional parking behind the park. The City will lease a patio and outdoor dining area to TJO Holdings, LLC. TJO will also have the exclusive right to use the property for events and festivals spanning the course of a weekend at least four times per year for no more than 20 years.
Other amenities are still being designed and analyzed for available funding.