July 22, 2014

City keeps leasing building to Art on Square for $1

Here are the five things you need to know about the Belleville City Council meeting on Monday:

1. Art on the Square lease -- The City Council voted unanimously to allow the Art on the Square Foundation to continue to use a city building at 30 Public Square for $1 a year.

Mayor Mark Eckert said the five-year lease essentially allows the nonprofit to continue to use the space as the group has in the past.

Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden asked how often the city uses the building for city functions.

Hayden also suggested the city sell the building to the Art on the Square foundation for $1 so the nonprofit assumes the costs of upkeep.

Eckert explained that the building was offered to the city by a Belleville attorney more than a decade ago and used by Art on the Square organizers ever since.

Eckert said the cost to maintain the building is minimal compared to how much the city benefits from the annual art show. Organizers use the building in the months leading up to the art show and then turn around and start planning the following year's show, Eckert said.

2. Parking lot swap -- Aldermen voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the St. Clair County Public Building Commission to transfer and acquire three parking lots.

City officials initiated the land transfer in order to satisfy an agreement with the Bank of Belleville, which plans to move to the 200 block of South Illinois Street so the city can establish a new police headquarters at the current bank site.

The county will turn over a lot at First and Harrison streets with 78 stalls. In exchange, the city will give a lot at First and A streets with 69 stalls, and six spots on a lot at Fifth and F streets.

The city in turn will allow the Bank of a Belleville to use 32 spots on its newly acquired lot.

The agreement allows for the city to continue to use the lot at First and A streets for free on weeknights, weekends and holidays.

Eckert said the city will lose meter revenue from the spots at the lot on First and A streets, but the trade-off is more than fair since the county will soon have to make about $150,000 worth of repairs to the lot.

The council also voted 14-1 to spend $4,575 from the general fund to have Joshua Mandell and The Lawrence Group design improvements in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act at 407 E. Lincoln St.

The city's Housing Department will temporarily operate from 213 S. Illinois St. to Lincoln Street during renovations to City Hall and the new Police Department building.

Alderwoman-at-Large Lillian Schneider voted no. Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult was absent.

3. Downtown infrastructure -- City leaders voted 14-1 to spend $126,208 for Glaenzer Electric to replace in-ground electrical boxes in downtown Belleville.

Schneider, who voted no, asked why the city did not go out for bid on the contract when the work was more than $10,000. What if the work could be done for less, Schneider said.

Eckert said city staff researched the cost and Glaenzer's offer is "a very good price." The city also wanted to use the company that helped identify and address the issue.

The outlets had failed two at a time at recent public events such as Art on the Square, and Eckert said it would be an embarrassment and liability to the city if the outlets malfunctioned at upcoming events, like the city's bicentennial celebration in September.

"I would hate to have the power panels go out when the Beach Boys are here," Eckert said.

4. Streetscape project -- City officials hope that plans for streetscape improvements to North Illinois Street will be under way by spring.

Aldermen approved a $21,000 preliminary engineering services agreement with Volkert to demolish 600, 601, 603 and 611 N. Illinois St. and 15 W. F St.

Demolition is expected to take place this winter and work on the streetscape project will begin in the spring, Eckert said.

5. Historic district -- Aldermen approved an $11,000 consulting contract with Michael Allen and Preservation Research Office for the National Register Historic District review and expansion project.

The assessment area is northeast of the Public Square, stretching to F Street and Third Street.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at or 618-239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at

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