1/19/2014 4:26:00 PM Coal City on track for industrial development
Ann Gill Editor
For the first time since he was elected mayor, water infrastructure isn't at the top of Neal Nelson's list of goals for the coming year.
"The priority for 2014 will be industrial development," the mayor declared in outlining his plans for the next 12 months. Of course water infrastructure is on the agenda, but unlike in the past, it's taking a back seat.
As the mayor points out the infrastructure improvements to the town's storm sewers are wrapping up and work is already underway to upgrade aging water mains. So it's time to refocus.
"The village board has taken significant steps over the past year to put in place the infrastructure and commitment to bring jobs and a larger tax base to the community," Nelson said.
The mayor and village board have given priority to the south end of the village where Providence Logistics will construct an industrial park on over 200 acres located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Reed Road.
In the coming months residents will see the construction of a side track off the Union Pacific (UP) line into the park, the mayor said.
Nelson said the railroad is working with the village and representatives from Providence to get users committed to the site.
"I hope by the end of 2014 we can announce the first user out there that will be in by 2015," Nelson said.
In addition to Providence's Inland Logistics Park, the village is working to bring a manufacturing facility to the Reed Road corridor.
Project A, a specialty consumer product packaging company, is currently working with the village on a financial package that would assist them in relocating here.
It's a project that, like Providence, has been in the works for quite a long time.
"What I've learned is that good things take time and bad things happen fast," said Nelson, who believes any type of industrial development will be good for the village and its citizens.
"With ever increasing costs including personnel, insurance and police protection it is essential for our community to increase its tax base or face cuts in services in the next five years," Nelson said.
Industrial development brings with it the hope of residential growth and an increase in commercial business.
Nelson likes the sound of both. He sees industrial development to the south bringing new citizens to town and with that comes an increase in sales as workers who live in town or commute will stop to shop at local stores and fill up their gas tanks resulting in sales tax dollars.
Nelson believes three services - water, infrastructure and police protection - are the most important services the village provides.
In order to meet the future needs of the village, town officials have authorized an update to the town's comprehensive plan.
"This is an important planning project which will aid us in determining how our community should grow and prosper," Nelson said.
The update is in the hands of the North Central Illinois Council of Governments (NCICG) and is part of a bigger project undertaken by the village to determine Coal City's future.
Robinson Engineering is currently in the process of putting together a phase one engineering study that looks to update and improve Broadway from Division Street (Route 113) south to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad track and on to Spring Road.
The federally-funded study could lead to additional federal funds coming to the village to complete some of the improvements outlined in the document.
Both the phase one study and the comprehensive plan are to be completed this spring and presented to the village board.
"Broadway is a wonderful downtown corridor," said Nelson.
The mayor wants to see more store fronts in the area that's been designated as the core business district. He commended the building owners who have taken advantage of the village's facade improvement program to improve the looks of their buildings.
Nelson said in order for these and future businesses to strive in the community, residents must be willing to shop local.
When asked, the mayor said he'd like to see the addition of a sporting goods shop, one that caters to outdoorsmen.
"A place where hunters and fisherman could go to purchase the gear they need, like boots and clothing, rods and reels. With all the outdoorsmen in our community and all of the recreation clubs around, I think this is the type of business that would be successful here," Nelson said.
He'd also like to see the addition of another automobile dealership.
No look ahead would be complete without mention of infrastructure, particularly water.
The village is poised to finish the last large storm water project that is focused on Spring Road, South Broadway, Elm and Mazon streets.
"Thanks to the taxpayers and village board we now have the ability to capture and move waste water out of town. It wasn't long ago a storm the size of the one in April 2013 would cripple portions of the community and cause taxpayers financial burdens trying to pump, push and redirect excessive storm water out of town. With the storm and sanitary improvements over the last four years we can now focus on improvements to our potable water system," Nelson said.
According to the mayor, Trustee Ross Bradey is looking at several options when it comes to water treatment and the reliable delivery of potable water to residents.
Improvements are currently underway to replace aging water mains.
Water main replacement is currently underway on Blackstone and Park streets and plans are in place to install a new main in the east alley of the business district.
The village, Nelson said, will be investing nearly $300,000 to improve potable water service.
Also ahead is discussion and possible action on a plan for the future expansion of the town's sanitary treatment facility.