Former Alderman Gene McCoskey wanted to thank the city and express his opinions as a concerned resident, so he took to the podium during the public comments portion of the O’Fallon City Council meeting Monday. Afterward, he received a standing ovation, and a thank you for his service from the mayor.
McCoskey resigned as an alderman after at the Feb. 21 meeting and is now serving on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.
He served Ward 1 as an alderman for eight years, was a civic volunteer for 10 years before that, and has lived in O’Fallon for 23 years.
He took issue with the council and city being “routinely and unfairly maligned.”
“In my time served, I have never witnessed any unethical or illegal behavior. We don’t always agree, but that’s how democracy is, and it’s good we don’t always agree and can debate the issues,” he said.
He also wanted to dispel any collusion on how to vote.
“I have never been asked by Mayor Graham — even one time — on how I was I was going to vote. And that’s 1,500 votes and zero times that happened. This is a good and decent government. There was no intentional wrongdoing in any executive session I was ever in,” he said.
“By any metric, O’Fallon is a remarkable success. It’s got a good government, commercial and residential growth, favorable audit, accountability, transparency, good strategic planning, knowledgeable staff. I know you don’t hear it enough,” he said.
“One thing that gets under my skin is this concept that you have to be from O’Fallon or born in O’Fallon to understand O’Fallon,” he said. “I don’t really believe that, in order to love a community and serve here. I think the community’s strength lies in its diversity of our experiences, and our thoughts and ideas.”
McCoskey said with a campaign underway, there is a negative tone about what is wrong with the city, but the day after the election, the mindset will be different.
“It’s the political season, and mud and manure are being slung in this town. ... I want to know about leadership, integrity, honesty and how to make O’Fallon better,” he said.
“On April 5, the campaign signs will come down, and good people are going to serve. Instantly and magically, the tone of the conversation will change overnight from what’s wrong with O’Fallon to we live in a great community. Everyone in this room knows that,” he said.
He thanked the mayor for his leadership, challenging people to be better. He thanked his ward, the council and the city staff for being “professional, committed.”
He thanked his wife, who “dislikes politics and drama, but loves this community.”
Under resolutions, the council approved road improvements to Lincoln Avenue for the Porter Road LLC project known as the Lincoln Corporate Center, which will be adjacent to 1400 S. Lincoln Ave. An auxiliary turn lane and a traffic signal will be added, at Porter Road LLC’s expense. A traffic study by Thouvenot, Wade and Moerchen engineering firm concluded the improvements were warranted. This agreement is also with St. Clair County.
In other action, Graham issued a proclamation declaring McKendree University as “our Hometown University,” and acknowledged its valuable contributions to the region for 189 years.
“McKendree University has partnered with the city of O’Fallon to provide opportunities for the development of youth sports programs, and the health and well-being of the residents of the city through the construction of the McKendree Metro Rec Plex,’ Graham read. “The success and well-being of the city of O’Fallon, the city of Lebanon, and McKendree University are all enhanced by continued strong partnerships and common goals directed at strengthening this region.”
Victoria Dowling, McKendree senior vice president, and a resident of O’Fallon, spoke on behalf of the university. She said they were grateful for the partnership with the city and encouraged residents to attend the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts and visit the new Metro Rec Plex.
McKendree has served the region since 1828. Alumni, students, faculty and staff live, work and shop in O’Fallon and also make significant volunteer, professional and financial contributions to the community, she and the mayor noted.
The council approved resolution executing a settlement and mutual release agreement with Tyler Technologies. City Administrator Walter Denton explained this was necessary because of public-safety-software changes with the new 911 agreement with Fairview Heights. Executing a contract with the company for its provision of software and related services to the city. The mayor declined to go into executive session prior to the vote, saying it wasn’t necessary, as agenda had stated. The city also received a reduced rate, from $75,000 to $5,000 for the fire department, Denton said.
The council approved an ordinance on the final plat of the Reserves of Timber Ridge, which will be 26 single-family homes on 13.59 acres. It is Phase 2B of a larger development of 102.65 acres north of Simmons and Kyle roads that will ultimately have 157 homes. First reading was approved 12-0 on Feb. 21.
The council also advanced an ordinance to second reading on the Weil Road annexation to Cobblestone Ridge, which involves lot 48, .21 acres, with plans to construct a house on the property. The Community Development Committee unanimously had approved the final plat.
Alderman Ned Drolet thanked his son John for speaking out on his behalf regarding the Dollar General proposal. Drolet was out of the country on vacation and unable to attend several council meetings. He thanked the three aldermen who voted in opposition to where the project would be located.
The council went into executive session regarding sale of city property, and no action was taken.