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Pekin puts the brakes on parking lot project, off-premises LED signs and billboards

The city parking lot behind the Fast Dragon restaurant in Pekin needs repairs.
Steve Stein
The city parking lot behind the Fast Dragon restaurant in Pekin needs repairs.

A parking lot rehabilitation project and off-premises LED signs and billboards were put on hold Monday by the Pekin City Council.

Concerns about a 29% higher than anticipated lone bid for the 300 Margaret St. parking lot rehabilitation project and the bid's impact on the budget convinced City Engineer Josie Esker to recommend the council table a contract award until budget discussions for the 2024-25 fiscal year begin in April.

That's what the council did, by a 5-2 vote.

Miller & Son Construction of Mackinaw submitted the lone bid for the project, $439,163. The city's estimated cost was $341,462.

An additional $40,000 in contingency funds was recommended by Esker, who also said $25,000 for two charging stations could have been cut from the project.

The asphalt parking lot slated for a mill and overlay is north of the Fast Dragon restaurant.

The project also includes the removal and replacement of the alley between Margaret and Court streets and sidewalk and curb work.

Council members Dave Nutter and Rick Hilst voted against tabling the bid award.

A six-month moratorium on approvals of off-premises LED signs and billboards was put in place Monday by the council.

The moratorium will give the Zoning Board of Appeals time to review and change the city code, which doesn't properly address off-premises LED signs and billboards, said Nic Maquet, the city's chief building official.

Changes need to be made to the code to address the duration of a message, transition time between messages, brightness of a sign and the spacing and location of signs, Maquet said.

Digital billboards at 1610 Broadway St. in the parking lot of a shuttered car wash and the Sonic Drive-In at 3601 Court St. were approved Feb. 26 by the council.

The companies planning to install those billboards will be allowed to go through the permitting process because the billboards were approved before the moratorium was put in place.

The moratorium passed unanimously.

Chamber awarded another contract to promote and organize downtown/riverfront city events

The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce will continue to market and run the four major city of Pekin events in the downtown/riverfront area.

The council on Monday approved a $30,000 contract with the chamber for the 2024-25 fiscal year, the same amount as the contract for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

The four major city downtown/riverfront events marketed and organized by the chamber are Christmas on Court and three concerts.

Chamber Executive Director Amy McCoy works closely with city staff to "coordinate activities and administrative processes," said Josh Wray, the city's economic development director.

The contract was approved 6-1, with Hilst voting no.

TIF funding approved for home construction

The council on Monday approved allocating as much as $60,000 in TIF funding over no more than a 10-year period to Barry and Beverly Waters, who are having a home built at 2037 Dane Kelsey Drive, within the Court Street TIF district.

The actual amount of TIF funding for the couple will be determined by eligible expenses and the new property tax revenue generated by their home. The estimated cost of construction is $500,000.

The TIF funding was approved 6-1, with Hilst voting no.

Autobody repair shop and auto repair businesses coming to Pekin

The council approved special-use requests and a site plan Monday for two auto-related businesses.

EC Collision plans to construct an autobody repair shop with a short-term vehicle storage area for wrecked vehicles on vacant property at 215 N. Third St. A 6-foot-tall fence will surround the wrecked vehicle storage area and screen it from public view.

Redeemed Auto Services plans to operate an auto repair business at 2410 N. 8th St. The property was recently used as an auto sales and repair shop.

It's almost time to get those mowers going

Seasonal mowing contracts with five companies -- Classy Grass, Carmody Lawn Services, J.W. Lawn Service, Easier Grounds Management and Behrlawn Mowing & Yardwork -- were approved Monday by the council.

The contracts range from $16,480 for Easier Grounds Management for District 5 to $68,200 for J.W. Lawn Service for districts 3,7 and 8. The city's mowing season is from April 4 to Nov. 4.

Steve Stein is an award-winning news and sports writer and editor. Most recently, he covered Tazewell County communities for the Peoria Journal Star for 18 years.