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Council member Jackson seeks review of policies on block parties, property management, golf carts

Peoria First District city council member Denise Jackson, center, speaks as fellow council members Tim Riggenbach and John Kelly listen during Tuesday's meeting at City Hall.
Joe Deacon
Peoria First District city council member Denise Jackson, center, speaks as fellow council members Tim Riggenbach and John Kelly listen during Tuesday's meeting at City Hall.

First District Peoria City Council member Denise Jackson wants the city to take a closer look at a handful of ordinances, including one concerning block parties that dates back to 1957.

Jackson brought the matters to attention as new business at Tuesday’s meeting. She said a recent block party in her district posed a problem when the rest of the neighborhood was not notified in advance.

“This does not pertain to neighborhood associations, but I'm referring to just private block parties,” said Jackson, noting there’s no screening when someone applies for a block party permit.

“People come and pay $25, they get barricades to block roads, and there's no formal vetting process. So it becomes really easy to host a block party and, in some cases, probably have alcohol or – in the instance I witnessed – a live band playing six or eight hours, and it created a bit of a disturbance.”

Jackson said she’s not opposed to neighborhoods holding block parties, but suggested other options might be preferable.

“I believe if you want to do some of these activities, maybe a public park or private venue might render itself much more successful because you don't create an imposition on the residents in that community,” she said.

Jackson also called for tighter regulation of property management companies that oversee apartment complexes.

“I'm interested in finding out if we've got a plan of operations for some of these apartment complexes. That may not be necessary for all, but there have been some, in my estimation, that have become chronic nuisances,” Jackson said. “So I think it would behoove us as a city to review this, specifically to see if there's a plan of operations as it relates to safety, maintenance, overall daily maintenance, and input in particular (with) security.”

Jackson’s third topic for review focused on the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), golf carts and motor bikes on city streets.

“I became concerned because I pulled over my car, the guy – a teenager – was speeding so fast. I don't know if we have a policy, but maybe it's time to look at it,” Jackson said. “A couple years ago, I was especially disturbed when there was a golf cart on city streets and that became especially concerning to me when the young woman had a toddler on the golf cart with her – and I know those golf carts don't have seatbelts.”

Treasurer vacancy

Mayor Rita Ali reiterated her intention to select a placeholder as the interim city treasurer to replace Stephen Morris, while setting a deadline of June 16 for applicants to submit interest forms and resumes.

The interim treasurer will serve for the remainder of Morris’ term, through next May after the general election in April. Ali said she doesn’t want to give the appointed treasurer the advantage of incumbency.

“I'm very interested in appointing a qualified person who will fill the term who is not interested in running for the office, and this is in preference of not providing any unfair advantage to someone during that time period,” she said.

Morris, who was elected in 2021 to follow Patrick Nichting in the treasurer role, tendered his resignation in an email to Ali on May 8, citing “personal and professional commitments.”

The mayor has the authority to appoint someone to the fill the vacancy, subject to city council approval. Council member John Kelly requested to have all applications forwarded to the council, which Ali said she would do.

Candidates must have been a Peoria resident for at least one year and meet other statutory eligibility requirements, including not owing any tax payments to the city or being convicted of a crime such as bribery, perjury or other felonies.

Traffic signal modernization

The council unanimously voted for Peoria to participate in an Illinois Department of Transportation program to modernize a number of traffic signals in IDOT District 4. The improvements include new signal control cabinets and video vehicle detection systems.

While IDOT’s estimated total project cost is around $400,000, that includes some locations outside Peoria city limits. The city is responsible for 20% of costs for signals within the city, for a total of more than $42,000.

Among the intersections in the project are several along War Memorial Drive: Frostwood, Orange Prairie, Grand Prairie, and Academic. Other chosen intersections include Knoxville and Prospect, Adams and Griswold, MacArthur and Jefferson, Washington and Jefferson, and Spalding and Glen Oak.

When Jackson wondered why the intersection of Howett and Western was not selected, public director Rick Powers said IDOT uses a similar scoring system to the city in determining which signals to prioritize for improvement.

Powers said he would contact IDOT to see if the Howett-Western intersection might be “on their radar for future years.”

Kelly intended to ask if the traffic signal modernization would include the capability for possible speed and red-light enforcement cameras, but city manager Patrick Urich noted it was a moot point because state law only allows the enforcement cameras in counties around Chicago.

“The General Assembly has made it clear they've left that to the collar counties and the metropolitan Chicago area, and no place else. So there is no opportunity for us to utilize that technology here,” Urich said. “There was no interest in moving any legislation forward from our local legislative delegation, nor from any other legislator downstate, to move on that at this point in time.”

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.