Council restricts parking on Jamestown Drive

Mayor Gary Graham was honored by Brad Cole, the executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, for his years of service to both O’Fallon and the IML.
“On behalf of all the mayors of all of the communities in Illinois, I’m here to say thank you to Mayor Graham for your service to the city of O’Fallon and also to the state of Illinois. I want to thank you both personally and professionally,” said Cole.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – Parking along Jamestown Drive will now be limited in a measure to prevent high school students from parking along the street on school days.

The ordinance states that no parking will be permitted on both sides of Jamestown Drive between Highway 50 and Holliday Drive during the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. while the high school is in session. Alderwoman Courtney Marsh began the discussion by voicing her objection to the proposal.

“I understand driving to school is a privilege and not a necessity. Restricting parking on Jamestown is not going to stop students from parking off campus. They’re just going to park on another street. We currently have East Third, East Fourth, East Fifth, East Sixth, East Seventh, South Hilgard, South Augusta, South Smiley, Weber, and Agnes all with restricted parking. Now all they’re going to do is move to Edna or Holliday or Southview. If someone doesn’t want to park on campus they’re not going to park on campus,” Marsh said.

Marsh then requested the ordinance be sent back to the Public Safety committee so it could be further studied.

Alderman Matt Gilreath, who represents Jamestown Drive, said it was time to vote on the proposal, as the residents have waited long enough.

“The people of Jamestown have waited five or six months for the council to do something. Tonight is the night for us to decide on this. If you vote it down, vote it down. But we’ve worked for six months on this. People want transparency in government? This couldn’t be a more transparent process. We’ve discussed it in two committees, we discussed it at the last city council meeting. Its been pretty much decided except for this last step and now we’re trying to curtail it again. It’s time to put something on the table and put it up for a vote tonight,” said Gilreath.

Gilreath said the main issue has nothing to do with students being unable to afford the $100 annual parking pass the high school requires students to buy to park on campus.

The meeting Monday night was the final one for Ward 7
Alderman Harlan Gerrish, who did not run for re-election.
“I’m really very happy in O’Fallon. It’s a great little town,” Gerrish said.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

“If you can afford a $12,000 car, the gas, and the insurance for it, you can afford a $100 parking permit for the year. The issue is somewhat teenage rebellion, kids not wanting to listen. The real issue is that there are problems in our community just like in every community in America. Unfortunately drugs and things that go along with that are a problem. At O’Fallon High School its not a huge issue, but a lot of the kids parking over [on Jamestown] don’t want their cars subject to search and seizure laws that are on the high school, so they’re parking across from there. By passing this ordinance tonight, we’re keeping our schools and community safe,” Gilreath said.

Marsh’s motion to send the ordinance back to Public Safety was rejected by the council, with only Marsh and Alderman Ned Drolet voting in favor of the measure. Following that, the ordinance was passed by a vote of 12-1, with Alderman Richie Meile voting against the measure.

The signs restricting parking will be installed no earlier than July 1 so as not to impact the students within the final few weeks of the 2016-17 school year.

In other news…

  • Following an executive session, the council approved the sale of two city properties. The first property sold was the former bank building and parking lot located at 200 South Lincoln and the home located at 110 East Third Street to Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation. City Administrator Walter Denton stated that Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation intends to develop doctor’s offices within the building and use it as a local clinic. The purchase price for the property is $550,000, with an additional $100,000 paid to the city to be used for the construction of a new public parking lot located directly to the west of City Hall.

The second property sold is located north of Taylor Road and was sold to Denny Blumberg, operating as the Reserves of Timber Ridge, LLC. In the sale contract, the property is broken into two tracts. Tract one, which consisted of 34.21 acres, was sold at a price of $30,000 per acre and totaled $1,026,300.00. The second tract, made up of 2.19 acres, was sold for $104,000 per acre, along with an additional $1,600 per lot for each lot in tract one on which a home is constructed. The second tract ultimately could be worth up to $108,800 in lot fees. The purchase price for the acreage is $212,800. Supplementary documents show the subdivision that will be developed there is called The Reserves of Timber Ridge.

Both sales passed unanimously.

  • Bishop Dudley from New Life in Christ Church addressed the council during the public comment portion of the meeting, urging them to pass a resolution that would allow the church to obtain an occupancy permit for their sanctuary addition prior to the completion and paving of a back parking lot. Previously the council stated the permit would only be granted when the lot was completed. Dudley requested that the council issue the permit so the church can use the space and that the church would finish the lot a few months afterwards.

The council approved the resolution later in the meeting by a vote of 12-1, with Alderman Matt Smallheer as the objecting vote.

  • During the Clerk’s Report, a request from O.U.S.A.R.T. to conduct a roadblock was approved. Alderman Drolet voted nay.
  • During the Mayor’s Report, Mayor Graham took time to praise people he has worked with over the past twenty years, including the city attorney, many prior elected officials, and the city staff.

“Our citizens are wonderful. We have a town we should be proud of. We have great schools, great police, and its not because of the mayor or the council, its because of the citizens that have been attracted to O’Fallon because of these things.”

Graham stated that O’Fallon is a caring and welcoming community and he doesn’t envision that ever changing.

“I just want to thank you for being your mayor,” Graham concluded, choking up.