MATTOON — The City Council voted Tuesday night to approve plans for demolishing the former Checker Top Cab station, 1904 Broadway Ave.
The council also approved a series of Mattoon Police Department promotions during its meeting, and recognized retiring police Chief Jason Taylor and Capt. Ray Hall Jr. The meeting was preceded by a public hearing on COVID-19 relief grants that the state has awarded to seven Mattoon businesses.
City Administrator Kyle Gill said earlier Tuesday that the former tax cab station is located on former railroad right of way that the city owns. He said the privately owned building there has been vacant since Checker Top closed in summer 2018 and this structure has received no interest from prospective buyers since then.
Gill said he proposed that the city purchase the former tax cab station and then demolish it, with funding from the downtown tax increment financing district. He said the city made this purchase in January 2020 for $10,000 and will vote on hiring a demolition contractor this spring.
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The city plans to use the Checker Top property to expand the adjacent Wolf Pocket Park, Gill said. He added that Ameren Illinois utility lines on the property limit how this site can be used.
Regarding the police promotions, the council promoted Lt. Jeremy Clark to captain, Sgt. John Hedges III to lieutenant, and Officer Alexander Hesse to sergeant. All three promotions will be effective March 27.
Chief Taylor, who will retire on March 31, said the city has been good to him and his family over the years and he thanked the council for its support. Deputy Chief Sam Gaines will take on the role of chief starting April 1.
"(Taylor) definitely raised the bar for the Mattoon Police Department during the last three years," Gaines said of Taylor's time as chief.
Hall thanked the community for its prayers and support during his recent battle with COVID-19 and with cancer before that.
"I didn't want cancer to beat me. I wanted to beat cancer and retire on my own terms," Hall said.
The hearing before the regular meeting was on Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program grants offered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Elliott Furniture, Gaines Photography, Hubbartt’s Downtown Diner, Ice House Triple Nickel, JWP Strategic and Tacos Amigos each received $25,000; and Vitality Skin Care got $20,920.
During the meeting, the council heard concerns from community member Robb Perry about city crews doing water line work as part of contractors resurfacing Marshall Avenue from 14th to 17th Street last year. Perry said the water line work took these crews away from other projects and he wondered if the work could have been done at a lower cost by a contractor.
The council also heard from Gill that the projected deficit in the budget proposal for 2021-2022 has been trimmed to $40,000 as the city staff prepares to present it to the council for approval next month.
"I think we will get to a balanced budget," Gill said.
Other council actions included:
— Approving Amtrak's final payment request of $385,800 for the new city sanitary sewer line that was installed as a part of the construction of a new passenger platform at the depot.
— Hiring Clark-Dietz for $30,130 to design the replacement of one of the primary pumps at the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
— Approving the purchase of a 2020 Ford Explorer "road ready" for police all wheel drive for $37,482 and a 2020 Ford Fusion police squad car for $19,923 from Pilson Auto Center, plus a 2021 Ford Explorer all wheel drive for $35,580 from Morrow Brothers for the Mattoon Fire Department.
— Awarding a $18,750 tourism grant from the city's hotel/motel tax funds to Mattoon Cobras Softball for hosting five tournaments this year. Council member Rick Hall said the tournaments will draw 160-180 teams, including many that will stay at Mattoon hotels.