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Plans for future Fire Station #2 are pressing forward

By Devese “Dee” Ursery

COLLINSVILLE — The City of Collinsville is moving forward with its plans to construct a new fire station.

During the regular bi-monthly city council meeting in Collinsville, staff and council members held a public hearing to discuss the proposed budget for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2024. They also discussed ordinances and resolutions that dealt with road construction projects, a new hire and the purchase of land.

Staff recommended and received approval for the purchase of a plot of land located on Pine Lake Road for the construction of Fire Station No.2. The subject property is zoned “B-4” Commercial District and is an irregular shaped lot approximately 182.9 ft. by 158.99 ft. Chief John Bailot, Collinsville Fire Department, presented details on the cost of the vacant lot that will be used for the new fire station.

“It is currently an empty parcel as you can see it has an irregular shape, but it looks like it’s going to work very well for the new future Fire Station No.2, which is the reason for the purchase,” Bailot said. “It’s also located in a general area as proposed in the Master Plan.” 

 Bailot explained that there’s a 90-day due diligence period and within that period their design team will dig deeper into the property and ensure that it’s right for the future fire station. “We will be doing soil examinations, using geotech, environmental testing and then placing the projected size and location of the building to see if it all works and if it doesn’t we got that 90-day due diligence period and we can pull out of that,” Bailot continued.

In the business prior to public input section of the meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss the proposed budget for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2024. During the public hearing Financial Director Dustin Ziebold detailed what the City is doing to maintain a good financial standing while main revenues for not only Collinsville, but cities throughout the country remain relatively flat.

“I feel our financial position is strong, but like everybody else, we’re extremely vulnerable right now,” Ziebold said. “Depending on how things happen in the next 12 months, the economy of the country will have an effect on us.” 

Ziebold believes the City still has to be cautious because there’s still the potential for a recession. “We did keep our estimates very conservative on the revenue side with all of that information coming in daily with changes in the markets and things like that,” he said.

A motion was also approved an ordinance regulating solar energy panels throughout the City. Caitlin Rice, city senior planner explained that the City is lacking on the zoning side.

According to Rice, they normally don’t touch roof mounted units unless it’s a historic property, but for free standing solar panels, they are only currently able to treat them as accessory structures.

“So this text amendment is to bring it all together and add in regulations for the form and character of the solar panels and differentiate between requirements for commercial and residential properties,” Rice said. 

“The overall purpose is to encourage solar energy systems, while also protecting the public in general welfare through form and permissibility. This will be applicable to all solar panels.”

A keynote to roof mounted solar panels is only applied to general regulations and then we have splitting up commercial and residential for free standing solar panels, according to Rice.  Anything that was constructed that doesn’t meet current standards or after the adoption of this ordinance they will be classified as legal nonconformity.

This text amendment proposes a new subsection, 17.060.280 — Solar Energy

Systems, which would regulate solar equipment for permitted use, location, form, character,

groundcover, and stormwater calculations, per documents. The proposed text amendment was drafted with guidance from Illinois Solar for All and Illinois Grow Solar, which each provide model ordinances and references to best regulatory practices. They also divide regulations into residential and commercial land use categories in order to protect the residential character of the City’s neighborhoods by limiting visibility of ground mounted solar panels.

During the consent agenda portion of the city council meeting housekeeping duties were discussed and approved. A motion was made and approved for the payment of bills for the period ending Nov. 17, 2023, in the amount of $1,281,614. A motion was also approved to pay payroll for the period ending Nov. 10, 2023, in the amount of $1,052,439. Minutes for the Nov. 14, 2023 City Council meeting as prepared by the City Clerk were approved as well.

City Engineer Troy Turner detailed an ordinance authorizing an addendum to the professional services agreement between the city of Collinsville and Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. in the amount of $55,880.00. The addition is for the preliminary engineering services for the Summit Ave. reconstruction from Notting Hill Road to Alco Drive. This addendum will bring the total contract value to $205,858.00. 

According to official documents the project was needed because the pavement along Summit Avenue from Notting Hill Road to Alco Drive was in poor condition and needed to be resurfaced. This section of road currently does not include pedestrian or cyclist accommodations.

“The original scope of work was $149,978, by TWM,” Turner said. “After that was done there were some additional items that were added to the scope of the services based on what we call going through a Project Development Report with IDOT.” 

Turner said that process required the City to do a Preliminary Environmental Site Assessment because one of the sites was flagged as a potential environmental site. He said after going through that and also having to do more details on a retaining wall there was an extra $16,000 of design work. “That also led to them redoing the plans, specifications and estimates that they had done, which was another $15,000,” Turner continued.

The Project Development Report Phase was mostly for geotechnical reports and  the Environmental Site Assessment that they had to do according to Turner. The rest of it was incorporated in the plans and specs of the cost. 

“They also had to do something called Type, Size and Location,” Turner said. We have a retaining wall that will be about 10 feet tall that requires them to go in and do a full geotechnical report based on the height of the wall.”

Turner said they had to do a stability analysis to make sure that it was gonna be designed right and not fall over and go into the road. And then there was just more utility coordination than we had planned.

“Right now we’re working on the first phase, but our project report encompasses six phases going from Johnson Hill Road all the way to Clay Street. In some of those portions they’re gonna try to take out some of the site distances we have at the hills where you go up high and then you come down low,” Turner said.

“As part of that we’re going to get into some utility conflicts with the gas mains. Also a power pole will need to be moved. There’s just some stuff that we didn’t include in the original agreement with utility relocations. This total cost is $55,880 and it’ll bring the total contract to $205,858.”

The project was submitted for and awarded Surface Transportation Program funds in the amount of $430,404. The local match for the construction portion of this project is $143,468, Madison County approved a request from the City to pay for this portion of the project. The City will be responsible for Preliminary and Construction Engineering, Right-Of-Way Acquisition, and any construction expenses over what was estimated.

The total estimated cost for Preliminary Engineering, Construction Engineering, Right-of-Way Acquisition, and Construction is $884,752. The amount of federal funds that have been awarded to the City is $430,404 and a local construction match of $143,468 has been approved by Madison County. The expected total cost to the City is estimated to be $310,880, Tax Increment Financial funds were utilized to pay $149,978 of this project, the remaining $160,902 will be paid for utilizing Motor Fuel Tax funds.

Council approved a resolution allowing the City to utilize MFT Funds in the amount of $55,880. This will be used to pay for Preliminary Engineering Services for the design of the Summit Avenue reconstruction from Notting Hill Road to Alco Drive.

The final order of business during the city council meeting, council members approved an ordinance making Derek Jackson city manager. This ordinance removes the term interim from his title making him the permanent city manager.

“I think he has the confidence of everybody that works for the City and the city council,” Mayor Jeff Stehman said. “ We are thrilled to have you move into the permanent position as you have really stepped up in a very difficult time.”

The next scheduled regular city council meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec.18 at City Hall, located at 125 South Center Street.


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