City Council discusses changes to the Historic Preservation Commission

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

On Monday, the City Council discussed that changes to the Macomb Historic Preservation Commission could be on the way.

Community Development Coordinator Ray Heitner explained to the city council on Monday that there are more efficient ways for the commission to operate. The commission’s purpose is to sign off on any outdoor renovation or improvement project that takes place in downtown Macomb. The proposal includes adding two new members to the commission, which currently features seven.

The primary motivation for expanding the commission would be to allow the new members to approve projects that are smaller and less significant than others. This would shorten the process since the commission wouldn’t be involved in these minor projects, and it would also likely result in fewer meetings, which would increase the commission’s efficiency.

“Anything that is going to be a major physical change, or that alters historic or character-defining elements, are still going to go through the commission,” Heitner said.

Examples of what would fall under the new sub-commission are improving a building with new paint, replacing light fixtures and safety issues.

“This is a way for the staff to be more hands-on with some of the preservation issues,” Heitner said.

As for who would occupy the new seats on the commission, Heitner suggests that the mayor would appoint one and the city’s downtown development director would appoint the other. City Administrator Kristen Petrie believes that suggestions for revisions will be made once a complete draft of the proposal is submitted, especially since the ordinance will be fully changed.

“This is a new plan so it may need some re-amending,” Petrie said. Mayor Mike Inman recently had an opportunity to meet with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Galesburg, Ill.

Mayor John Pritchard to discuss the long-distance service for Amtrak. Amtrak is a government funded railroad service that has been transporting passengers in 46 states across the United States for nearly five decades. Recent proposals for federal cuts target Amtrak and would directly impact Galesburg, a town in Macomb’s proximity. Certain trips to Galesburg, like one that picks up passengers on its way from Chicago to LosAngeles, would be eliminated. The cuts could also result in fewer stops in towns like Kewanee and Princeton.

Inman points out that Amtrak receives a substantial amount of funding through subsidies, which comes in the form of taxpayer dollars. Thus, he believes that taxpayers have a right to be in on the loop.

“A little bit of transparency would be nice,” Inman said.

On a positive note, Inman assures that the cuts would not directly impact residents in Macomb since the city’s trains are supported by the state of Illinois, not the federal government.

“Those trains are running well,” Inman said. “There is no jeopardy there.”

In parting, Inman wished Ray Heitner luck in his future endeavors as he departs Macomb for a job in Iowa. Inman thanked Heitner for his commitment to improving the city of Macomb since 2016, when the council chose him for the community development coordinator position. Inman also relayed to the public that thousands of potential jobs would become available as we approach the upcoming census in 2020. Inman discovered the job opportunities while serving on the Census Commission, in which he was appointed to by Governor Bruce Rauner. For matters affecting citizens of Macomb, the fire hydrants throughout the city will be flushed on Monday, Oct. 1. Residents may notice a slight discoloration within their water, but nothing harmful will be present. The process of flushing the hydrants will be completed between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. For questions or concerns, citizens may contact the public works department or the water treatment plant.