Traffic Studies

A new police station on Route 38 is in the works, and a proposed expansion of the DeKalb Public Library would involve closing a portion of North Third Street.

Clearly, each of these projects/proposals if built would impact traffic patterns at their respective locations.

Mac McIntyre brought up the need for a traffic study at the police station site a few months ago so I’ve been doing some research into the requirements as time allows.

Communications with the state Department of Transportation have convinced me that it would likely not be possible for the City of DeKalb to obtain a permit for the police station construction without a traffic study. Indeed, ComEd will have to obtain a permit to dig a hole for a pole before it begins utility work at the site.

Additionally, I just found out that the city approved “administratively” a traffic study, now in progress, for the police station site.

All’s well then, right? NO. My reading of the Municipal Code does not allow for an “administrative” decision on traffic studies. The procedure is for the director of Public Works to make a recommendation and for the city council to vote on the recommendation.

I’ve put the applicable section of Chapter 23, Article 7 after the jump. Continue reading Traffic Studies

Taj Mah-Library

[Updated 7/18 with links to more coverage, at bottom.]

Dimensions, features and amenities planned for the new DeKalb Public Library have been lifted from “A Building Program for the DeKalb Public Library,” September 19, 2009. The plan is to build an 89,000 square foot facility that serves 70,000 people, based on projections of 2% growth per year out to 2030. Building and participant details come after the jump. Continue reading Taj Mah-Library

Route 23

There was a transportation meeting at Kishwaukee College on Tuesday. It reminded me of an idea I’d heard and would like to throw out to you.

At the meeting, they remarked that non-local truck traffic was decreasing on Route 38 and holding steady on Route 23 so there is no reason to pursue costly bypasses. Well, there is one road in DeKalb where truck traffic must be increasing and that is Peace Road.

The county maintains Peace Road but building proper roads for heavy truck traffic is much more expensive than for regular roads. Should this perhaps be a job for IDOT? What if the part of Gurler that runs east from 4th to Peace (which eventually will be inhabited by industrial and commercial interests), then Peace Road all the way north to Plank Road in Sycamore, were designated Route 23?

It’s true that the city wants to tackle the South 4th Street revitalization with the help of IDOT, but the other idea clearly has merit as well. I thank M. for bringing it up.

Ethics & Downtown Revitalization

All we know for sure is this: DeKalb Mayor Frank Van Buer cast a vote against Gavin Wilson’s candidacy as 5th Ward alderman. The mayor is now found to have close political relationships with Wilson’s opponent in the race and with the man who challenged Wilson’s ballot petition.

Van Buer’s campaign manager, Don Floyd, says that the mayor did disclose, by way of filing electronically with the Illinois State Board of Elections (btw, the irony has not escaped me). He’s got a point. How is it that the opposition party–in this case the Republicans–didn’t dig up that nugget? How did the Daily Chronicle miss it? As for myself, I didn’t blink or think twice at the time, when Van Buer said “We were advised that that was a mandatory.” That’s ’cause I trusted him.

I assume that when Van Buer sought legal advice, it was from the city attorney. Perhaps he should also have visited with the city manager, who is the designated ethics advisor for the city. That way the mayor’s men maybe wouldn’t have to be engaged right now in a flurry of damage control activity because the ethics of the situation called for recusal. Recusal would have saved the day.

At any rate let’s pursue a big-picture hypothesis brought to the fore by Gavin Wilson:

The Mayor and I were not strangers. He had just recently sent me a letter asking me not to write any more letters to the Chronicle, or it would undo all the things he was trying to accomplish, (for instance, removing the only viable parking in the downtown). I did write more, and I know this was not an action that would endear me to him.

Continue reading Ethics & Downtown Revitalization

Council Pre-Watch 7/11/07

This week’s council meetings have been rescheduled for next week after Monday’s rain-out, which turned streets south of Rt. 38, from Second to Seventh, into rivers. (I myself am the sudden owner of lakefront property, which happens whenever there’s a “100-year-flood,” or about every four years.)

I noticed this item in the city manager’s notes for the regular council meeting:

ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A SPECIAL SERVICE AREA NUMBER TWELVE (DEKALB BUSINESS CENTER PLANNED DEVELOPMENT) IN THE CITY OF DEKALB, ILLINOIS AND PROVIDING FOR A PUBLIC HEARING AND OTHER PROCEDURES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH. A Public Hearing needs to be held in order to consider establishing a Special Service Area for the property located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Gurler Road and Illinois Route 23, commonly known as DeKalb Business Center. This property was annexed into the City on December 11, 2006. The Annexation Agreement provided for the creation of an Owners Association, which will be responsible for maintenance of the common areas and storm water retention areas. The Special Service Area would only be activated in the event that the Owners Association fails to provide the required maintenance. Continue reading Council Pre-Watch 7/11/07

South 4th Street as “Complete”

This fall my fourth-grader began riding his bike to school. He’s of an age where he sometimes still depends on what he calls the “luck factor” when crossing streets so I go along to prevent what I term the “splat factor.” One of our more hair-raising problems is crossing South 4th Street (Route 23). Five lanes with traffic traveling at 35 to 40 miles per hour can be tricky even for the grownup.

Because S. 4th is so dangerous, my son actually is eligible to take the bus to school. After all, we taxpayers are footing the bill for at least two buses–at an estimated annual cost of $70,000*–that we wouldn’t need if not for the hazardous crossing designation. But the trip is less than a mile, and I want to teach him to depend more on pedal power, less on petrol power. We’ve felt resigned to living with S. 4th as it is–until now, when I discovered that we may not have to. Continue reading South 4th Street as “Complete”

National Citizen Survey: DeKalb may be a college town.

Yep, DeKalb did another survey last fall, this time the National Citizen Survey administered by the National Research Center at the University of Colorado. About 400 towns, cities and other jurisdictions take the same survey each year, so we not only have ratings given by our own residents but can see how DeKalb stacks up to the other participating communities when it comes to delivering city services and responding to the major issues we face.

What you’ll find here first is a quick overview of the survey methodology as well as a summary of some of the results. (Quotes come from the NCS 2006 Summary Report and/or the Staff Summary prepared for the 2/20/2006 city council workshop unless otherwise noted.) Then I’ll re-visit the DeKalb “identity crisis” issue and the downtown revitalization plan in terms of the Survey results.
Continue reading National Citizen Survey: DeKalb may be a college town.

Growth Summit: The Survey

Last year, the DeKalb City Council decided not to cancel its Dec. 19 workshop meeting for the holidays. Instead, they discussed issues that had arisen with the Keating brouhaha-ha project to decide if they should make changes to industrial development policy.

The motives were the best, but you can see from the minutes that they in fact decided nothing. At one point Mayor Van Buer asked the council not to get bogged down in details, but to think out 20-30 years ahead in order to formulate policy. If another train hadn’t come by, I swear you would have heard crickets chirping. The silence was stunning.

It’s obvious that DeKalb is having trouble with envisioning its future. This is not new, and seems to stem from a lack of strong identity. As I was reviewing Growth Summit material, I came across this tidbit from a Regional Planning Commission Meeting in 2003:

Mr. Nicklas asked if DeKalb had come any closer to being able to define and articulate what they want to look like and how they see themselves. Mr. Rasmussen [DeKalb Community Development Dept., also member of the Planning Commission] noted that the City was still extremely conflicted in this respect, having only recently (within the past 2 years) come to accept itself as a college town. He went on to add that in all his previous experiences, the towns he dealt with had a clear view of who they wanted to be. DeKalb, however, continues to be fragmented in its self-image. Mr. Nicklas asked how DeKalb was addressing the question, noting that he had never seen it addressed in a public venue. Mr. Rasmussen responded that the City had recently hired NIU to conduct a survey of a random group of DeKalb citizens to see if some pattern could be developed. Because this will be handled scientifically, it should shed some light on real feelings about growth and identity.

So this is why the Council approved $7,000 for a citizen survey to supplement the input of the Summit Committee members. But did it yield any useful information? Let’s look.
Continue reading Growth Summit: The Survey