By: Diane Benjamin
The only Public Comment last night was from Doug Fansler. See 6:20. He wondered who invited the climate activist to speak at the last meeting. He had emailed the Council and City Manager but was not satisfied with the scant answers. Doug agreed we need a warming and a cooling plan but the Town was the wrong place for them to be looking for assistance. Jump to 1:25:13. The meeting is over, Pam can be heard saying “He didn’t like the answer”. A few minutes before she wanted it on the record that she did reply. I might do a whole story on this one!
See 10:00 Stan Nord questioned why the Town is paying for 6 employees to attend a conference for the Children’s Discovery Museum. The CDM has 8 full time employees and all 6 of those going are full time. Of course Pam spun a narrative supporting them. Chris Koos also gave his support. The conference is in St. Louis. The registration doesn’t include travel, hotels, and food. Just the registrations was almost $4000.
Note: Conferences do provide information. They also spark new ways to spend your money.
Stan also questioned this expense:
This building is at the corner of College and Linden. Pam Reece claimed it was completed in 2005. That’s now 15 years ago. No one said how long this continues.
By far the longest conversation was about the free lease with ISU for the Art Gallery. It starts at 21:24.
23:30 – Pam: The town values their relationship with ISU.
24:40: Stan: If a business was in that space is would be generating property taxes and sales taxes instead of taxpayers subsidizing the property.
25:30: Stan: He claimed the Council had voted to move the staff out of the expensive lease at 1 Uptown Circle. He wondered why this space should be tied up for 5 years when the Town could use it.
26:50 Kevin McCarthy: Recapped the history of the space. Since ISU paid back Normal for the money fronted to develop the site, they should now get it for free. He claims visitors shop and eat in Uptown. He claims the gallery is a tourist attraction.
Thrown around were the Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that visitors spend around $70 each. Think back to the economic impact numbers CVB threw around for the Coliseum. Nobody believed them.
29:40 Chris Koos: This one is a can’t miss! Koos claims the space is a bad for retail. He actually said there isn’t any close parking. (It’s under the parking garage!) He goes on to explain retailers want the ability to park at the front door.
Except in Uptown where more on street parking was taken away later for parklets.
Uptown will be losing the last easy parking when and if Traileast is ever built. Obviously Koos understands people hate parking garages. He wants to force you to use them anyway. Considering 1 Uptown Circle is still empty, people refuse to comply and retailers know it.
32:30 Kevin McCarthy relived history repeating the same arguments again
33:13 Karyn Smith: ISU received a $1 million contribution and the State announced funding for art spaces on campus. She questioned how 17,000 visitors a year in that space justifies allowing ISU 5 years of rent free while the Town is responsible for maintenance. She spoke with the EDC and they believe this area is on the cusp of growth due to Rivian and Brandt. She was told the Town can be their own worst enemy with deals like locking this space up for 5 years.
38:00 Koos: Claimed ISU paid double the lease rate, Karyn responded that capital improvements aren’t rent. ISU actually paid none.
At one point Scott Preston attempted to make the lease year-to-year instead of 5 years. That failed. Stan Nord tried to table the lease so staff could go back to ISU. That failed.
Pam Reece mentioned they believe according the bond documents they have no duty to rent the space for a profit. What about the Town’s fiduciary duty to taxpayers Pam?
A final vote wasn’t taken until 1:09:45. FOUR members approved the 5 year no cost lease: Lorenz, McCarthy, Cummings, Koos
THREE voted no: Smith, Preston, and Nord.
The conversation proves which Council members are working for ISU and which are working for citizens. Three of the 4 YES votes can be replaced next year.
7 thoughts on “Normal: Koos steps in it again”
Haha! The CVB makes up stats with a mix of hometown scoring and talking points from the local clique, which have infiltrated its ranks. The EDC is no better, trying to convince Karyn and the rest of us that their two crowning achievements, Rivian and Brandt, are boosting Uptown. Right, because both are so centrally located and accessible to Uptown. So, employees and visitors of these companies are going to drive 15 minutes, find parking, and then walk several blocks in four seasons of Illinois weather to look at student art, drink a beer, and eat a burger. Sure, EDC. Whatever you say. Let’s admit that the ISU gallery is in that space solely to prevent it from being an eyesore and visual evidence of the failure that is Uptown. Again, does anyone in Uptown not have some form of government handout?! With the new multi-million dollar, fine arts building to be erected on campus does ISU really need that inaccessible storefront in Uptown? They won’t turn down free commercial space (who would?!), so they’ll stay until they’re kicked out.
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3 DOWN 4 TO GO!
Knowing people who are handicapped AND elderly, I can TELL you that they BOTH prefer to park AS CLOSE as they can to where they are going shopping, otherwise they skip it. I have NEVER known EITHER to use a parking garage, as it’s not only distance but STEPS that become an obstacle! Not to mention security and access..
If Koos thinks people WANT to use a parking garage let him SET THE EXAMPLE and put HIS PERSONAL spot in EVERY one in town!
Sorry, I can’t begin to even think about a climate activist at a council meeting. HOW does he gather data? Stand in a cow pasture and listen to the earth warm up? As I’m sure that what his data is..
It is time for voters of Normal to recognize what ruin the employee and representatives, peterson and koos and council of Normal have brought onto the downtown environment in downtown Normal. As a business owner in downtown normal and I call it downtown because the majority of business owners in downtown voted overwhelming to keep the name downtown but their wishes were ignored. Parking is absolutely terrible as a business owner I took a document of what the city was proposing to with on street parking around to all business’s several years ago a local bookstore owner threw me out of his business, he later commented “I don’t care about parking as most of my business is done online”. So the city officials put together a committee to look at their plan to eliminate70% of the on street parking and guess who they put in charge of that committee, you guessed it the bookstore owner that did not care about on street parking, guess who was a friend of mayor koos? So what did the business owners get, loss of on street parking as well as these wonderful bump outs where many uptown customers had their cars damaged the city did replace the bump outs but at a cost of over a $100,000.00 to the taxpayers. I have lost customers because they refuse to park in a deck and walk over a block for 20 minutes of service. When the mayor was asked if he would like the same kind of parking at his business he said that was different, different how?
The only way to change the the the incompetence wrought on the taxpayers as well as the business owners is to get the the current administration out of office.
Just make sure that you keep councilman Nord he is the only one that has has demonstrated enough intelligence to make sound fiduciary decisions.
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To BOBBYWERK3 I TOTALLY agree with you. 110%! I USED to shop in DOWNTOWN Normal, but since they “prefer” to be called uptown and feel better then EVERYONE else. I DO NOT do ANY business there PERIOD!
This is NOT a reflection on you, nor your business as I’m sure that you , along with MANY other business people in downtown Normal, would like mine, as well as MANY other peoples business. But since UPTOWN prefers that name. They can live with the consequences of THEIR dumb assed decision!
When THEY change, I can too! Let THEM make the DECISION! I SPEAK THE TRUTH!
As a LIFELONG TOWNIE!
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The Uptown failure is the FANTASY Koos and the long term executive staff. This dreamworld was and is NOT paid with their money. Many of the executive staff don’t even live in Normal, so they do NOT share in the financial burden caused by their lavish desires. Koos will have his name on new structures and staff will continue to get their salaries and annual increases. Any fiscally responsible person elected is a minor and temporary irritant. Unless residents actually vote a majority of responsible people to the council in a single election then we will just get more council drama with no positive change.
I predict 2020 will be year of cramming as much spending on special interests as possible because taxpayers are finally waking up . Those currently in office know they will not be re-elected.
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Six people at a conference is like a Polish joke. How many staffers do you need to get a bunch of handouts and listen to someone tell you how to fleece taxpayers? SIX! One to collect the handouts and five to carry them back to Normal?
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