Belleville to buy more property for North Illinois streetscape project

News-DemocratJanuary 11, 2014 

— City leaders have approved the purchase of property on North Illinois and F streets in the latest effort to gather the pieces for a streetscape improvement and widening project.

The $4.1 million-plus project will improve safety at three intersections near downtown. And, the area of North Illinois from A Street to the Richland Creek Greenway Trail will get new sidewalks, lamps and landscaping to match what is on Main Street.

Mayor Mark Eckert said construction cannot start until the city works out every parcel needed for the project and the city is still working on some easement agreements.

After discussing the property acquisition in executive session at a meeting on Wednesday, the City Council approved paying Steven D. Kiefer the following:

* $92,250 for a duplex at 15 and 17 E. F St., not including moving and relocation costs for current tenants.

* $127,750 for a commercial building that houses 600, 602 and 604 N. Illinois St. and the parking lot behind the property.

Kiefer said Friday the closing date has not been set.

Kiefer operates his Kiefer Heating and Cooling Co. and sheet metal business out of one of the spaces, and he will have to find a new location.

"The majority of my business comes out of Belleville," he said.

Kiefer said the House of Restoration Ministries was at 600 N. Illinois St. but left about a year ago and the property has been vacant ever since.

Both of Kiefer's properties will be set for demolition as part of the project to widen the streets in the area of F Street and North Illinois, Lebanon Avenue and North Illinois, and F Street and Lebanon Avenue.

City officials began discussing improvements to North Illinois as early as 2006.

Eckert, who won re-election in April for a third full term, recently said one of his goals this four-year term is to complete the North Illinois streetscape project.

Part of the project will include blocking off West G Street and East E Street with decorative landscaping. This will force motorists on Illinois 159 to access those streets from F Street instead, reducing traffic conflict points.

Finance Director Jamie Maitret said the balance of the money budgeted for the project will be carried into the next fiscal year, which starts in May.

Of the $4.1 million, $600,000 is for engineering, $322,950 is for land acquisition services, $600,000 is for property acquisition and $2.6 million is for construction.

A federal grant will pay for 75 percent of the project up to $5 million. The city has to pay 25 percent and that will come from tax increment financing funds.

City Engineer Tim Gregowicz said in 2012 that the city needs to acquire about 64 temporary and permanent rights of way for the project, and about five homes will be demolished.

The council previously approved these payments for property: $88,000 for 601 N. Illinois St. and $86,000 for 603 N. Illinois St.

The streetscape along Main Street in downtown Belleville was revamped in a $7 million project.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

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