Belleville police officers to get new rides

Belleville aldermen on Monday night continued a plan to convert most of the city’s police fleet to Ford SUVs.

The city agreed to buy eight SUVs for the police department from Reuther Ford, which was the lowest bidder at $210,277.

Mayor Mark Eckert said the police officers and Chief Bill Clay prefer the Ford SUVs over the Ford Crown Victoria model, which was used for many years. The department also has used the Ford Taurus.

“Crown Victorias never did get around in bad weather,” said Eckert, who noted the cars had rear-wheel drive and eight-cylinder engines.

Crown Victorias never did get around in bad weather.

Mayor Mark Eckert in discussing the city’s purchase of SUVs

He said the police interceptor SUV has all-wheel drive that is “much better for bad weather.”

“And the engines are six cylinder, and we’re getting better mileage,” he said.

Ford Motor Co. reported the standard V6 engine in the SUV is projected to get at least 20 percent better fuel efficiency than the 2011 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.

Jamie Maitret, the city’s finance director, said the city still has to spend on average about $38,000 to equip the new SUVs.

Eckert said that the equipment used to outfit SUVs first purchased three years ago will eventually be able to be reused in SUVs purchased in coming years. He said the SUVs will be the primary vehicle for police officers.

In another vehicle purchase, aldermen agreed to buy a Tymco street sweeper for $256,666.

Eckert said the city currently has two street sweepers but one them will soon be taken out of commission because it is so old.

“They get used a lot,” he said. The sweepers help prevent trash from entering the sewer system, he said.

Latest on Lindenwood

Ward 3 Alderman Kent Randle said he heard from some residents who “felt intimidated” by the crowd at the Lindenwood University-Belleville town hall meeting on June 8 and Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner said he thought the meeting’s forum was not the best way for residents to discuss their concerns about students living in their neighborhood.

Most of the speakers at the town hall praised the school for expanding its West Main Street campus but some speakers raised questions about security.

Buettner asked Eckert if residents with concerns about security patrols, trash collection and parking could sit down with city and school officials. He said this type of meeting would “show that the city has the concerns of the citizens at heart.”

In response, Eckert said he asks all residents who have concerns about Lindenwood students living in their neighborhood to call or email his office. Also, he said he expects to invite Buettner and Alderwoman Jane Pusa, who also represents Ward 2, to a meeting in July between city staff and Lindenwood administrators.

Buettner and Pusa previously were not allowed to attend these quarterly meetings between the city staff and school administrators. In November, when aldermen approved Lindenwood’s request for special-use permits to allow students to live in homes and apartment building, they required school officials to meet quarterly with city officials.

Eckert also said he has heard from more residents since the town hall meeting and they told him that their concerns have been addressed.

New meeting place

The meeting on Monday night will be the last regular City Council meeting in City Hall until early next year because City Hall will be closed during a renovation that will last about seven months.

Beginning on Tuesday, July 5, the council will meet at Lindenwood University-Belleville in the banquet hall of the Alan J. Dixon Building at 2600 W. Main St.

The council usually meets on the first and third Mondays of each month but because the Fourth of July holiday falls on the first Monday of the month, the first meeting in July will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 5.