MESD mulls options for sewer line fix
The Metro East Sanitary District (MESD) commissioners are weighing their options as they seek funding for repair or replacement of a critical and badly deteriorated central sewer line.
“The sewer transport line continues to be in severe need of repair and the board is searching for funding,” James Craney, an attorney for the district told the Chronicle.
The 60-year-old collector system serves some 13,000 residential and businesses customers in the Caseyville, East St. Louis, Fairmont City and Washington Park areas, as well as in small portions of Venice and Madison. It will cost about $5 million to replace, according to the district.
The MESD Board of Commissioners last year established a special service area (SSA) in area served by the collector line; along with a special, designated property tax in the SSA, to pay for the line replacement.
However, Twentieth Judicial Circuit Associate Judge Julie K. Katz, on May 4, nullified the SSA and the special tax.
The ruling came after St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly filed suit against the MESD, April 24, contending the district had created the SSA illegally. It was issued the same day Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons filed a similar suit against the district in the Third Judicial Circuit.
In her ruling, Judge Katz noted that under Illinois law, sewer districts are not authorized to create special services areas. That power is reserved generally for municipalities.
The ruling likely means MESD tax increase will not appear on property tax bills that are scheduled to go out over the coming weeks.
The special SSA levy had been expected to increase tax bills by about $300 to $400 annually for a $100,000 home.
The SSA had been established in an effort to relegate costs for the renovations to only those district property owners benefitting from the district’s sanitary sewer service, district officials say.
Although the court ruling means the district will not be to begin renovation of the collector line this year, service for customers of the district’s sanitary sewer system will continue, Craney said.
The MESD serves a nearly 35-square-mile area of the American Bottoms from the Mississippi River to Illinois 157, and from the southern areas of the Granite City and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville areas of Madison County, south to the Sauget area of St. Clair County.
The district’s primary function is maintaining the area’s vast network of drainage canals and ditches, including federal levees and several storm water pumping stations.
However, it also provides sanitary sewer service in the central section of the district not served by other sewer systems.
MESD commissioners plan to continue discussion on the replacement of the central sewer line at their June meeting.
State awards $3.4 million for Metro transportation projects
Five Metro East communities will benefit from a package of $37 million in Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP), announced May 7 by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the grant program provides federal funding to facilitate biking and walking paths, trails, streetscape beautification work and other projects designed to encourage safe travel across the various modes of transportation at the local level.
Communities in IDOT District 8, a ten-county area encompassing Metro East, will receive a total of $3,422,780.
The local awardees are:
- City of Columbia, Main Street Streetscape Phase 3 — $600,720
- City of Wood River, Wood Rover Streetscape Phase 2 – $412,030
- City of Edwardsville, Illinois 157 Shared Use Path – $943,200
- Village of Millstadt, Washington Street Streetscape improvements – $245,150
- City of Highland, Broadway (Illinois 160) Streetscape improvements Phase 1 – $1,221,680
The Metro East projects among 54 selected for ITEP statewide this year. In all, IDOT received some 218 applications for ITEP grants during the current funding cycle.
To be eligible, applicants must commit a local match of at least 20 percent to their project and demonstrate a plan to have their awards spent within four years.
The next call for ITAP projects will be during fall 2019 followed by a spring 2020 award announcement.
Madison Co. eyes ‘community investment areas’
Commercial and residential development in unincorporated areas would be encouraged mostly within new “community investment areas” — close to existing municipal boundaries or major traffic routes — under a proposed new Madison County Comprehensive Plan, slated for consideration by key county governmental bodies this month.
Under the proposed comprehensive plan — designed to provide guidance for development in the county’s unincorporated areas — new business or residential projects be encouraged largely within areas that already have in place the infrastructure and services needed to support them, according to county planners.
Specifically: within one mile of the existing boundaries of large municipalities, one-half mile of smaller communities, and along rural highways or at intersections.
Central to the plan are several major themes, according to planners: strong communities; prosperous agriculture; treasured homes and property; abundant, healthy and beautiful open spaces and natural resources; prosperous economy; robust and efficient transportation network; and low cost of living.
The proposed new comprehensive plan is also designed to be more “consumer friendly” than the county’s largest plan, finalized in 2000.
Formulated through a series of public meetings around the county over the past two years, a final draft of the plan is tentatively slated for review by the Madison County Plan Commission May 17 and County Board’s Planning & Development Committee for May 19. It must then go to the full County Board for approval.
A copy of the draft plan is available on the Madison County website (www.co.madison.il.us), under “Departments” and “Planning & Development.”
Nite Spot on endangered historic places list
The Nite Spot Café, Collinsville Road and 45th Street in Fairmont City, is among the sites listed on Landmarks Illinois’ 2018 list of endangered historic places.
“An iconic location along Illinois’ portion of Route 66 that once served the many travelers on America’s ‘Mother Road,’” the not-for-profit preservationist group says of the aging frame structure.
The privately-owned building sits vacant and in need of maintenance, the organization notes.
It faces demolition as the nearby Fairmont City Library hopes to acquire the Nite Spot site for a building expansion.
Also, included on the lists of 13 endangered historic places: The State Fairgrounds in Du Quoin and Springfield.
ESL Center to offer free meals for enrolled children
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s (SIUE) East St. Louis Center Summer Program will provide meals to all enrolled children, 18 years of age and under, free of charge, according to a university press release.
Meals will be provided at the center beginning June 11, 2018 and ending July 20, 2018.
Acceptance and participation requirements for the program and all activities are the same for all regardless to race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the administration of the meal service, SIUE emphasizes.
–Metro East Area News Briefs–