BELLEVILLE — Whether the city allows video gambling machines will be up to voters in November.
The City Council voted unanimously Monday to ask on the Nov. 6 ballot: "Shall video gaming be permitted in the City of Belleville in liquor-licensed establishments including bars, restaurants, and certain fraternal & veterans organizations?"
The issue will be presented as a binding referendum, which means the city must adhere to the outcome.
Also on Monday, the City Council voted to approve an $845,083 contract to build Kimball Plaza at the proposed Bicentennial Park and Mayor Mark Eckert announced the retirement of Deputy Fire Chief Steve Klingler.
Klingler, who has served the city for nearly 30 years, will retire Sept. 1, Eckert said. The city is taking applications from city employees until 5 p.m. Friday.
City leaders moved forward with Kimball Plaza by approving a contract with Mettler Development, the low bid for the first two phases.
Council members Melinda Hult of Ward 2 and Lillian Schneider of Ward 7 voted "no." Ward 8 Alderman Joe Orlet voted "present."
The vote came after much debate.
After an inquiry by Hult, city staff said contractors cannot start on Kimball Plaza until the city receives a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Eckert said the city expects to receive the permit this week and the delay was because the state department's liaison was on vacation.
Hult also said Eckert misled aldermen about when the $400,000 gift had to be used. She suggested the city could get an extension.
Eckert said the deadline is Dec. 15, which was agreed upon after the city's first request for an extension.
Eckert said after the meeting that representatives of the Kimball family trust, which gave the gift, would probably understand if the project was delayed due to weather or other circumstances beyond the city's control. The mayor has said the city could lose the gift money if the project was not done by the end of the year.
Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden asked how the city purchased a $20,000 sculpture for the park without City Council approval. He also said the city needs to change how it does business because there's a lack of communication among city leaders and staff.
Eckert said the City Council already approved the project and the budget -- and city staff did not have to get additional approval from aldermen on purchases for the park. The Mettler Development bid, however, needed aldermen approval because the city was entering into a contract.
"We did not mislead. We did not misrepresent. We did not misuse," Eckert said.
At the end, Hayden said he would support the plaza and aldermen should "stand united" on the issue, but "future phases need more public dialogue."
Residents who live near the park spoke in favor of the project, stating it would improve quality of life and property values and attract new residents to the area.
Kari Tutza presented a petition with more than 400 signatures and said that residents "see the park as a gem for this neighborhood."
Tutza is captain of the newly named neighborhood watch group, Bicentennial Park Association, and also an employee of the city's Economic Development and Planning Department.
In other news:
* The City Council unanimously approved spending up to $125,000 more to resurface East Washington Street to meet state historic preservation standards. City Engineer Tim Gregowicz said Monday the cost increase will likely be closer to $106,000. The city needed more money for the project, which originally was to cost $679,899, after learning the former brick sidewalks had to be replaced with brick instead of concrete.
* The City Council approved the mayor's appointments to a special task force on the proposed crime-free housing ordinance.
The task force includes: Ward 1 Alderman Ken Kinsella as chairman and Ward 4 Alderman Dean Hardt; landlords Stan Bratzke, Kevin Bouse and John Masur; Linda Havlin, of the nonprofit West End Redevelopment Corp.; Dan Nollman, a resident from the east end of the city and Tricia Tialdo, a real estate agent who also serves on the city's health and housing committee.
Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore asked for legal counsel to be part of the task force but Eckert said the group's final product will be reviewed by the city attorney.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.