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  • Fairbury News staff

Club building project discussed

(A drawing of the planned Boys & Girls Club center in Fairbury is shown Wednesday night)

A new Boys and Girls Club building was discussed at the start of Wednesday’s regular Fairbury City Council meeting.

The estimated cost to build what is being referred to as an “Intergenerational Center” is $6.4 million and over $2 million has been raised through pledges and donations. This means the club is halfway to the point where they will be allowed to break ground and move on to the public phase of the project, which is planned for the north end of town along Seventh Street.

Sue Popejoy, Jodi Martin and Al Slagel appeared before the council to present information and answer questions from the group. Plans call for a kitchen with a refrigerator, freezer and pantry along with a full-size gymnasium surrounded by a walking path.

“There are some meeting rooms for the kids, storage and other classrooms,” explained Popejoy.

According to Popejoy, they are talking about deeding this to the city in return for a 100-year lease on the property. Funds included for the project do include prevailing wage.

“The adults will have 24/7 access,” added Popejoy. “There will be a small membership fee.”

The Pontiac facility is the only one the club currently owns and they would like to transform the current North Park building that houses the Boys and Girls Club of Prairie Central into a teen center. This would entail team-building activities for teens.

“How much of the five acres will be developed?” asked Alderman Jim Tipton.

“There will be grass area where there’s not a building or parking,” replied Al Slagel, who is involved with the construction aspect of the project.

There will be no on-site building work until two-thirds of the funding goal is reached. Elevation surveys and similar work will be done this winter.

Jodi Martin noted they plan to be able to handle 185 kids at the new building as they currently max out at 82.

“We’ve gotten 200 kids in that building in Pontiac and it wasn’t a good thing. We are opening a teen center next door,” said Martin.

The Boys and Girls Club of Livingston County now has 11 sites, including the various Prairie Central communities along with Piper City, Pontiac, Flanagan, Streator, Dwight and soon to be Kempton.

The club is in the running for a $500,000 grant for capital funds but must show this project is going to happen. Until ground is actually broken, it will be difficult to secure any more dollars.

“That’s a good update,” stated Alderman Tipton.

“You are making headway,” said Mayor David Slagel.

During the current quiet phase of the project, small meetings have taken place with around five couples at a time in the community so they can ask questions and get the needed information.

Also at Wednesday’s Fairbury City Council meeting, Water Superintendent Mike Mellott revealed a pump motor was burnt out at the plant. Though the pump is not used often, it is used during busy times such as fighting fires.

“It’s a very important pump,” noted Mellott.

City Superintendent Brett Ashburn said the city is trying to get a meeting organized with a property owner regarding a storm pipe they are trying to put in by the trail. Ashburn feels the landowner is starting to throw a “curveball.” He lives up in Chicagoland and owns property around the area. This drainage impacts a certain part of town.

Council members approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Illinois Council of Police (ICOP) for part-time officers. This allows the city to more easily get part-time officers, according to the mayor.

The consent agenda was approved, including Dec. 20 meeting minutes, voucher invoice register listing the bills, treasurer’s cash report, check register and overtime report.

An executive session was held, though no action was anticipated.

(Sue Popejoy shows a rendering of the planned Boys & Girls Club facility for Fairbury)

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