By Annabelle Knef
O’FALLON – Mayor Herb Roach said that the City of O’Fallon will need to fill between five and seven city council positions in the coming months and encouraged the involvement of community members interested in continuing their growth “and the operations of our community.”
At a town hall meeting on July 11 at the O’Fallon Fire Department where Roach announced vacancies would open in the next five to eight months, he said the forum was for the community to ask city officials any questions they may have regarding city projects.
“This is your meeting and the idea is to give you information and answer the questions that you may have,” Roach said.
Discussion at the town hall mostly focused on road projects.
Director of Public Works Jeff Taylor informed those who gathered that a consultant hired by the city analyzed every road within city limits and based off of that information, they were able to determine which roads needed attention. He pointed out different construction activity currently taking place around the city, most notably the new roundabout at Milburn and Old Collinsville Road.
Taylor reported that good progress has been made at the Milburn-Old Collinsville roundabout since construction started shortly after Memorial Day, and expects it to be completed in August before schools are in session.
A second project that just began yesterday is intersection improvements at Central Park and Greenmount Road, according to Taylor.
“That project just started, what you’ll see initially are temporary traffic signals,” Taylor said. “We’re hoping that will be completed sometime later this fall.”
He said that during the construction of the intersection, there won’t be any lane closures.
Assistant city administrator Grant Litteken said that the city is working hard to provide additional parking throughout O’Fallon.
“The first and easiest one to provide additional [parking] spots will be next to the Chamber of Commerce,” Litteken said. “This was done by relocating a bus route in coordination with St. Clair County.”
Litteken said that the parking construction should be complete by the end of the month.
He also said that beyond public investments and projects, there is an “extensive” list of private investments taking place around O’Fallon.
One investment includes Marcus Theatre- which has been approved for an expansion of two “high quality” IMAX screens.
Another is McDonald’s on Highway 50 in front of Walmart, which is getting ready to remodel its interior and exterior, Litteken said.
He also acknowledged the recent successful opening of Lion’s Choice in the old Tim Horton’s location.
“We’re working hard to continue the growth in O’Fallon,” he said.
Litteken added that the city is working on a website that’s “going to help market the city of O’Fallon a little bit better.”
The future holds a lot of re-development as well, he said.
Southview Plaza is one area that Litteken said is on its way to a “demolition and remediation of the environmental contamination from a laundry mat.”
Regarding the city council openings expected in the coming months, Roach encouraged the group to consider becoming involved.
“I think you’ve got to want to do this for the right reasons, you have got to want to do this because you care about the community and you want to see this community be the place where families want to come and where businesses want to come,” Roach said.
Roach said that the family aspect of O’Fallon is what makes it the “most popular location in Southwestern Illinois and one of the most popular in the greater St. Louis area.”
“This city is my family,” he said.
Roach said that potential city councilmen should be prepared to put in the time for the job.
“This is not something where you’re just going to come to a meeting once or twice a month,” he said. “You’re going to dedicate every Monday night.”
“You have got to be prepared to speak your mind if you feel strongly about something,” Roach said. “Because the only way we really come to the best result is when you hear both sides of an issue.”
Roach said that an individual on city council has to think about more than people in just their ward.
“The tricky part is you have to stop and think ‘well maybe that’s good for my ward but is it really good for the overall community,’” he said. “You’re representing the people of your ward who elected you but you are also representing the entire community.”