And the winner is – Downtown Plaza!
Weighing in on the results from a light voter turnout, the O’Fallon City Council has recommended a name to reflect the new downtown pavilion’s location and intentions.
Aldermen present at a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday approved "Downtown Plaza" in a 7-5 hand vote. That followed a spirited debate about word meanings and connotations. The proposal advances to the May 7 Council meeting for official consideration.
Starting on April 2, the city asked residents to suggest names for the new downtown pavilion. After collecting 160 responses on an e-survey, the staff created a list with the top 10 submitted names. The council was asked to rank the top 10 names in order. Seven of 14 aldermen did so.
Those results were:
- 1: O’Fallon Crossing
- 2: Vine Street Plaza
- 3: Vine Street Market
- 4: O’Fallon Depot
- 5: O’Fallon Station
Grant Litteken, assistant city administrator, said the survey only asked for submissions, and did not ask residents to rank the submitted names or indicate their preference.
The new pavilion, to be located near the corner of First and Vine streets downtown, is expected to host small festivals, gatherings, a farmers’ market and other events. It is part of the Destination O’Fallon initiative.
At Monday’s meeting, aldermen were asked to vote, and a few preferred other choices not on the compiled list.
With the goal to create a central gathering place in the heart of the community, Alderman Ned Drolet said he wanted to include downtown in the name, along with O’Fallon and pavilion. He mentioned that the council had received his letter than he had sent to Mary Jeanne Hutchinson, the director of parks and recreation, in February.
“O’Fallon Market is not what we want it to be. It’s more than a market — it’s a meeting place. It’s not a depot. It’s not a station. It’s not a crossing. It’s definitely a pavilion. It’s going to be numerous things,” Drolet said. “It’s old town — downtown — and it really is the heart of O’Fallon.”
Several other aldermen concurred.
“I used the same logic that Ned used,” Alderman Robert Kueker said. “Downtown and pavilion are best suited for the name.”
Sue Witter, president of Downtown O’Fallon, an all-volunteer merchants’ group, said their members voted “Downtown Pavilion” as their top choice.
“If only 160 out of 30,000 responded, I’m not sure that’s great,” she commented about the residents’ survey.
Alderman Matt Smallheer suggested “Downtown Plaza.”
Witter said “plaza” was OK in the name, either that or "pavilion."
Alderman Mark Morton agreed.
“With 160 residents and 50 percent of the aldermen, this by no means reflects a cohesive vote,” he said. “I actually like Matt’s idea of Downtown Plaza,” Morton said.
Alderman Jerry Albrecht did, too.
“It’s more than a pavilion, that’s why I like plaza. It is supposed to connect O’Fallon’s heritage. As long as it has 'O’Fallon' in it,” he said.
Alderman Ross Rosenberg said he supported "O’Fallon Crossing," because it topped the list, and he thought they would lose credibility if they didn’t go with the people survey.
“I represent the people of my ward, and I am voting for O’Fallon Crossing,” he said.
O’Fallon Crossing was defeated, with four votes in favor.
Alderman Matthew Gilreath said he was in favor of fundraising, such as accepting a check from someone who wanted naming rights to the pavilion in exchange for a monetary fee. That pricing would begin at 50 percent of the construction fee.
Afterward, Litteken explained that, typically, the cost for naming rights could be somewhere in that range.
“However, we have not yet researched or gauged interest in naming rights for this facility,” Litteken said. “The city has not formally solicited offers. However, if a valid offer for naming rights was presented, the City Council can make changes to the name of this facility at their discretion.”
Alderman David Cozad said his hopes were to have people from outside of O’Fallon attend the events, and the location should be included in the name for easier directions.
David Witter commented as a citizen in the audience, noting that only half of the council voted for the final list.
“This project is to bring people downtown. That’s the whole reason for this,” he said. “I hope we do what makes sense – downtown plaza or pavilion. That’s why it was created.”
City Administrator Walter Denton said a big part of the naming was to brand it and be able to advertise it, to create a destination.
“Asking for names from residents was to engage and get people excited about building it. In the end, it’s your decision,” he said.
After the meeting, Sue Witter said she was fine with the name.
“I was really surprised only 160 did the survey and seven of the aldermen,” she said.
Construction is to begin soon. Hutchinson said the project is expected to take 90 days.
“It should be ready for fall, if we get moving here,” she said.
The council unanimously approved bids from Korte & Luitjohan Contractors from Highland for construction of the Downtown Plaza and Rooters Asphalt for construction of the City Hall parking lot.
The total project was estimated at $1.8 million, with $1.5 million for the pavilion and $300,000 for the parking lot.
Hutchinson said seven bids were received, and Korte & Luitjohan was the low bidder for the downtown pavilion with a base bid of $1,398,840.
The Rooters Asphalt’s low bid for the parking lot was at $158,553.03.
With a combination of funds from the Destination O'Fallon bonds ($1.5 million), capital budget ($300,000), and bank sale proceeds ($100,000), the bids were within the project budget.
Hutchinson explained to the council that the alternate bids for a brick-enclosed dumpster and would be accepted, too, as funds would allow for two alternates. After Millennium Engineering did testing, they decided the contingency plan was enough to account for soil issues, and they would not have to approve a third alternate bid.
The parking lot will have 46 spots. City employees will park there during the day, and then at night, people can park there for events.
The Santa Hut will be moved, and so will the Scale House, which is a landmark, Hutchinson said.
Marcia Wood of the O’Fallon VFW asked if they could still hold Bacon Fest on their property, with areas blocked off, much like other downtown merchants have done in the past, or would they be required to host it at the pavilion.
Mayor Herb Roach said this question hadn’t been asked yet.
“It’s something we will talk about,” he said.
The address included on the submitted architectural plans is 212 E. First St. The site is bordered by Vine Street on the west, First Street to the south, Apple Street to the east, and the railroad tracks to the north.