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GIBSON CITY — Mayor Dan Dickey expects an improved shopping experience in downtown Gibson City with the addition of a free public Wi-Fi network that business patrons can use and a speaker system that will play background music and broadcast advertisements outside businesses’ front doors.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the city council voted 8-0 to spend up to $65,000 for Gibson City-based MCS Office Technologies to install the technology to make way for the improvements.

Before the vote, MCS representative Todd McNutt made a detailed presentation on the project, which marks the third phase of the city’s downtown revitalization plan.

Dickey said the sound system will be used to play soft, contemporary background music outside in the downtown area during business hours. A monthly $32 subscription to SoundMachine will give the city access to unlimited stations and millions of songs.

“We’re going to start out in the morning with the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ and then go right into music, which we’ll play all day long, every day, until 6 or 8 at night,” Dickey said.

In between songs, the city plans to broadcast 15-second advertisements for local businesses — something the city may do at no cost to those establishments, Dickey noted — along with notifications of upcoming community events or weather-related emergencies, for example.

“I would like it to be free (for businesses to advertise on it) because the biggest chunk of our tax revenue is from the businesses, so this is a way to give back to them,” Dickey said.

The free downtown public Wi-Fi network, meanwhile, could be used by patrons while outside, and possibly while within a business, as well. Policies will be in place to limit the amount of time someone can use the Wi-Fi, plus the speeds at which they are connected. When connecting to the Wi-Fi network, patrons will be automatically directed to the Gibson City app, Dickey said.

A high-definition video surveillance camera focusing on the intersection of 8th Street and Sangamon Avenue will be installed on the corner of City Hall, as well. It will be tied into the existing surveillance system for the city’s parks, City Hall and police department. More cameras could be added in the future if desired, as long as the surveillance system’s memory capacity is also expanded, Dickey said.

Maintenance and support for the downtown audio and Wi-Fi systems will be rolled into the city’s existing support agreement with MCS.

The technological improvements will be debuted during the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce’s 25th annual Lighted Christmas Parade in late November. The plan is to announce the parade’s entries as they enter the downtown and to play holiday-themed music throughout, Dickey said.

Other business

Also at the meeting:

➜ Upon the request of a downtown business owner, the council voted unanimously to spend up to $1,000 to replace the existing rock between the sidewalk and curb on the north side of the 100 block of East 8th Street with river rock that would match the river rock already in place at downtown intersections. Plans were also discussed for the replacement of the crumbling steps outside the Masonic lodge downtown and the securing of the steps’ railings.

➜ The council voted unanimously to approve a special event license to allow alcohol consumption in the area immediately outside Jay’s Place at 115 N. Sangamon Ave. from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, during the city’s annual Harvest Fest.