The Collinsville City Council members on Monday discussed the merits of three proposed "pocket parks" near downtown along the new Illinois 159.
The discussion took place during the council's monthly strategic session where they talk about future agenda items.
Gary Karasek, the architect on the project, showed renderings of the small, aesthetic landscaped parks. The parks, which are proposed for three empty spaces left when the new highway was built, are part of an overall beautification effort by the city.
The cost, which was cited at around $800,000 when first proposed in 2011, has been redesigned down to $397,000 if the city does not include a kiosk and a clock tower in two of the parks, according to Karasek. The two features would add an additional $100,000 to the overall cost. All council members agreed the two features were an unnecessary expense.
"This has been pared down quite a bit and we can pare that down more if staff does some of the work," said City Manager Scott Williams.
The city could save an additional $98,000 if it chooses to have the city install irrigation and decorative paving at the parks.
The parks will be paid for using TIF funds.
"If the TIF money is there, we should use it, that's what it's there for," said councilman Michael Tognarelli. "Why can't we have a beautiful city? It will benefit everyone in the city. It's time to do it, the money is there."
Karasek said the next stage of the pocket parks plan is to get plan approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation and start construction once the City Council approves the final plan.
Phase three of the Streetscape Plan was also discussed and all council members seemed to like the plans that would re-design the area around City Hall so it matches the rest of the streetscape projects already completed on Main Street. It will include road resurfacing, handicap accessible sidewalks, street signs, lighting, and landscaping.
Eighty percent of the funding for the $1.87 million project is through the Federal Transportation bill and administered through the Illinois Transportation Improvement Program. The city must pay for 20 percent of the project.
Project engineer Phil Murphy, of Oates Associates, said he expects the project will be completed in summer 2014, pending approval by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the City Council.
During the regular meeting of the City Council, members approved the annual budget for street maintenance in the city. The budget for the streets department for maintenance is $939,175, an amount determined by the Motor Fuel Tax funds distributed to the city by the state, based on population.
The council also approved an ordinance to enter into an agreement with IDOT for the reconstruction of South Clinton. The reconstruction involves repaving, widening, adding curbs, gutters, and sidewalks along South Clinton from Glen Street to near Illinois 159. Eighty percent of the $985,000 project is funded through a grant. The city will pay $246,250 of the cost.
"I'm glad to see it getting started," Tognarelli said of the project.