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  • Fairbury News staff

City finds plenty to talk about

Work on the Fairbury sewer plant is shown in September / file photo.

From pickleball to sewers, the Fairbury City Council covered a wide array of topics during the group’s regular meeting held via Zoom Wednesday night.

Resident Joe Costa appeared before council members during the public comment portion of the meeting, thanking them for the opportunity to re-surface the pickleball courts this spring.

“North Park has been busier than I’ve ever seen it,” Costa observed.

Costa noted all of the recreational opportunities provided by the city parks and trails. He plans to update the council on the project as contractors become involved and would like feedback from anyone using the tennis and pickleball courts.

Gary Norris has noticed an increased interest in pickleball.

“I think it’s a great idea for North Park,” he said.

Costa noted he was willing to sacrifice one of the tennis courts for two more pickleball courts. According to Mayor David Slagel, this has already been approved by the city and everything is on track to move forward.

In a separate matter, City Superintendent Brett Ashburn reported City Hall has seen its first real impact of the pandemic which is why the lobby was recently closed. While no one tested positive yet, there was direct contact in a household where people had to quarantine.

“Everything is still working 8:30-4:00 and we’ll just keep going until things pan out in a different light,” Ashburn said.

Aldermen approved a mobile app for the city following a presentation from William McCarty with 311 Mobile App. He gave a demonstration and answered questions. McCarty explained people are using phones for online access as mobile has overtaken desktop use.

“Technology evolves and it’s changing,” he said.

App users can report issues such as potholes and access news, events and quick links. Employees can use the platform for a reporting system and public problems can be reported.

The council authorized employee Christmas gifts of $225 for full-time and $150 for part-time employees. This is up from previous bonuses of $150 and $100, respectively. Mayor Slagel read a statement from citizen Wayne Varner who felt employees deserved double the bonus money from last year due to their handling of summer storms and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The mayor reminded the group of the raises given to employees this year.

An ordinance for levy and assessment of taxes for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2021 was approved. The rate for property owners is going down but the city is still getting more tax dollars. This is due to the value of properties going up enough that the city is actually getting more money.

The city approved a variance request from Seth Welch at 407 East Oak Street to reduce the distance to lot lines for a chicken coop. He asked to be allowed to have his coop where it is at now, which is 5-6 feet from the property line, instead of 10 feet.

“I can’t really see any problem with where it’s at,” stated Alderman Lynn Dameron.

Mayor Slagel said a concern is if residents build something not according to an ordinance and keep coming back to have it changed. Some suggested there should be a punishment involved rather than letting everyone do whatever they want in the future.

“It gives something unique for the area,” Welch said of his coop.

Welch has been very compliant on the city part of the code, according to Clerk Nancy Widlacki.

A request from Farnsworth asking for up to another $150,000 to finish work on the long term sewer control plan project was questioned by the council and tabled for now. Sewer Superintendent Brad Duncan explained the company has reached the end of its portion of the engineering work, even though things are months ahead of schedule.

As the sewer project nears completion, Duncan feels Farnsworth has done a great job working through the entire process. Alderman Jerry Hoffman feels if this type of money is involved, Farnsworth should be at a meeting to explain. Dameron was curious about a breakdown of the money.

“They have a breakdown in each one of the pay requests,” replied Ashburn.

“I would be most interested in seeing the last couple (of requests),” added the mayor.

This will likely be discussed further at a future sewer committee meeting when Farnsworth representatives can participate.

On the sewer plant subject, Duncan told the council the facility is on track to be substantially complete by the end of December which puts everything ahead of schedule. The council did approve pay request 28 for the project in the amount of $167,490.71. Alderman Jon Kinate made the motion for approval with a second by Alderman Gary Norris.

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