The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

August 14, 2013

Hoopeston decides against taking over property

BY CAROL HICKS
The Commercial-News

HOOPESTON — Several residents attended the special council meeting Tuesday to voice opinions on the idea of raising the city's sales tax 0.5 percent to pay for infrastructure improvements and the proposal for the city to take possession of the Vermilion Iron Works property.

Lourdine Florek asked why the residents of Hoopeston had to pay to tear down property when the owners wouldn't pat for it.

"It's not right," said Alderman Randy Carter, "but it's reality."

Mayor Bill Crusinberry agreed and but added, "Somewhere we have to do it or let the town deteriorate. We have to take a stand in our own community." He added that Hoopeston's sales tax base is low compared to other area towns.

Raising the sales tax would be voted on by the residents before it would be raised.

"If the residents want to do it, they have to decide on the sales tax (raise) to clean up the town," said Crusinberry.

The second point of contention was the Vermilion Iron property and whether the city should take possession of it .

Bertha Parson said the city should "take into consideration what is best for our community."

Dustin Tarter added if a salvage company bought the site, it would strip Vermilion Iron and leave the rest to the city to clean up.

"I'm amazed the city will not take advantage of taking Vermilon Iron," Tarter said

Council members went into executive session to discuss land acquisition and afterward decided not to pursue possession of the Vermilion Iron property. Crusinberry said he spoke to representatives from the EPA and Attorney General's offices and was advised there was an existing investigation of ownership and other problems.

Council members did, however, agree to execute a letter of demolition. Any buyer would immediately be issued an order of demolition that would prevent a buyer from stripping the property for salvage and abandoning the property.

Alderman Brandon Hamilton added there was the potential that Hoopeston could get the property down the line and could obtain grants to clean it up. The property can also apply for a Brownfield Grant to clean it.

City officials will wait and see how the present Brownfield Grant will deal with the property.

In other business, council members discussed Marathon station owner Sunny Singh's request for an upgrade of his liquor license to a double AA license since the convenient store will soon be open 24 hours. The present city ordinance allows five licenses with two AA's. Ted's and CVS were granted those two licenses, according to Crusinberry. In order to upgrade the existing ordinance, the council would have to amend the present one and reset the number of licenses in each category. The request will be referred to committee and be on the next council meeting agenda.

The next regular city council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 301 W. Main St.