Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold speaks to members of the city council during Tuesday's meeting at City Hall.

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PAXTON — The city is inviting business owners, residents and anyone else interested to attend a public open house regarding the first phase of downtown Paxton’s streetscape improvement project.

The event is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at City Hall, 145 S. Market St. Engineers from the Champaign-based Farnsworth Group, which is overseeing the project, will be in attendance to show renderings of the proposed new streetscape, inform the public about the million-dollar project, and address any questions or concerns.

“It’s kind of one of those ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ kinds of things,” Mayor Bill Ingold said during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will involve the replacement of downtown’s Market Street, from Orleans to Holmes streets. It will also involve the construction of new curbs, sidewalks and streetlights in the 100 block of North Market Street.

The city is planning to fund the project’s first phase using the $1.14 million in funds that the city was required to return to the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity following the termination of the city’s revolving-loan fund.

Additional phases of the project — including new curbs, sidewalks and streetlights in the 100 block of South Market Street — could be completed later, once enough funds become available through annual budgeting or the obtaining of grants, Ingold said.

Ingold has said he expects construction to begin next May, after final plans are drawn up this fall and bids are sought from contractors next January and February and then awarded next March.

Other business

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

➜ Comptroller/Treasurer Tammy Jensen said she expects the city’s annual audit report to be presented to the council in October.

➜ The council voted 7-1, with Alderman Mike Wilson in dissent, to approve spending $18,000 on a stump grinder for use by the city’s public works department.  Public Works Director Mark LeClair said the purchase of the equipment is in his department’s budget for this fiscal year. “We’ve got a ton of stumps to do,” Ingold said.

➜ The council voted 6-2, with Wilson and Alderman Justin Withers in dissent, to accept the lowest bid received — for $7,500 from Paxton-based Brust Tuckpointing — for the repair and sealing of damaged brick on the exterior of the Paxton Emergency Management Agency’s building at 134 W. State St. EMA Director Ed Hanson said the only other bid obtained was from Paxton-based Rick Adkins Masonry, which bid the work at a cost of $12,400. Both bids were well above the $3,000 the city budgeted for the work. Even so, Alderman Rob Steiger said he feels the work should not be done in phases — and should be “done right” the first time. “Budgets are there to help guide us,” Steiger said. “They’re not the end-all.”

➜ Withers, chairman of the council’s community committee, reminded the public that the eighth annual Paxton Swine ‘N Dine BBQ Contest & Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21, in downtown Paxton. The all-day event features a free concert headlined by Nashville recording artist Jerrod Niemann. Opening for Niemann on a stage set up in front of City Hall will be fellow country musician Johnny McGuire starting at 7 p.m. The festival also features a wide variety of food and beverage vendors, a car show/cruise-in, a cornhole tournament, children’s activities and, of course, the barbecue cookoff that will award cash prizes.

➜ Alderman Eric Evans asked about the impending retirement of the city’s tax-increment financing (TIF) consultant, Springfield attorney Dan Schuering. The mayor said he would discuss it with the council in executive session at another time.