Mayor Krajewski called the Workshop meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Hall.
Present:Mayor Brian Krajewski; Commissioners Marilyn Schnell, Sue McConnell, Martin Tully, Ron Sandack, Stan Urban, William Waldack; Village Manager Cara Pavlicek; Assistant Village Attorney Ann Marie Perez; Village Clerk April Holden
Absent:Village Attorney Enza Petrarca
Visitors: Press: Kevin Stahr, Downers Grove Reporter Residents: Transportation Advisory Commission: Robert Kollmar, 1420 Concord Drive, Anthony Schiller, 6710 Bradley Ct., Geoff Neustadt, 4633 Saratoga, Robert Nastal, 5713 Aubrey Terrace; George Swimmer, 4905 Main; Tom Sisul, 5120 Main; Downers Grove Watch: Bill Wrobel, 7800 Queens, Andrew Clark, 1226 62nd Street; John Schofield, 1125 Jefferson; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore Staff: Fire Department: Chief Phil Ruscetti, Deputy Chief Jim Jackson, Deputy Chief Bob Tutko, Rob Padgett, Dan Majdrech, Gary Meiser, Quinn Triplett; Police Department: Chief Bob Porter, Deputy Chief Kurt Bluder, Mike Eddy, Todd Rountree; Fire Prevention Chief Larry Bazaar; Public Works: Director Dave Barber, Assistant Director Mike Millette, Assistant Director Stan Balicki, Traffic Manager Dorin Fera,; Assistant to the Village Manager Mike Baker
Mayor Krajewski explained that Council Workshop meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are video taped live and for later cable cast over cable channel 6.
The Workshop meeting is intended to provide Council and the public with an appropriate forum for informal discussion of any items intended for future Council consideration or just for general information. No formal action is taken at Workshop meetings.
The public is invited to attend and encouraged to comment or ask questions in an informal manner on any of the items being discussed or on any other subject. The agenda is created to provide a guideline for discussion.
Consent Agenda Items
Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Presentation. Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said Deputy Chief Jackson of the Downers Grove Fire Department, and Officer Rountree of the Downers Grove Police Department would report on their participation in relief efforts in New Orleans.
Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jackson said that Katrina hit on August 29, 2005 and is one of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history. He discussed the deployment of personnel, daily activities, and what was learned from participating in this effort.
Officer Todd Rountree explained that ILEAS is the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System which is the only State-wide law enforcement mutual-aid system in the country. Because of its effectiveness in Louisiana, this system will now be implemented all over the country. ILEAS allows for police authority outside of their normal jurisdictions, which is a major advantage in responding to out-of-town/out-of-state situations. This is a pre-planned mutual-aid response which creates less chaos than in the past, and increases communication through ILEAS to other law enforcement agencies. It also establishes a platform for cost reimbursement. ILEAS Region 4 WMD -SRT takes in DuPage County and is a tactical response to hazardous material incidents with a human threat. The agency is funded by Homeland Security and is basically designed for response to threats using weapons of mass destruction. He described the deployment of personnel and their initial briefing in Springfield. Personnel were sworn in as Louisiana State Troopers upon their arrival. Their responsibilities were the protection of critical medical assets, evacuation security, food and water distribution and communication repair security. Officer Rountree described photos displayed on the overhead, saying that they participated in search and rescue as well as search and recovery in the high water areas with the U.S. Coast Guard. They worked in minimum 12-hour shifts, although there were some 24-hour days. They began at Baton Rouge and were then transferred to Hammond, Louisiana, north of New Orleans. He then acknowledged and introduced Officer Michael Eddy, with the National Guard.
Officer Michael Eddy said he was activated on the federal level with the U.S. Air Force in Springfield. He said he was there for ten days to build a sustainment camp in the zoo area while the clean-up efforts continued in New Orleans. The officer in charge made it mandatory for the officers to put in their eight hours at the camp, and then another eight hours as part of the clean-up project. Officer Eddy said it was an eye-opening experience and he was proud to represent the Department.
Chief Jackson then described MABAS , a mutual aid organization, which began in the early 60s. It consists of 550 Illinois departments, and was an integral part of the New Orleans relief effort. He said it appears that this will be a national model after the experience in New Orleans. He listed the various personnel, and equipment available through MABAS . Downers Grove, Lisle and Naperville combine as Division 16 of MABAS . They were notified that their deployment would be on September 5, they had 12 hours to prepare for departure and they had to commit to a 14-day stay. In addition they had to muster up a 14-day supply deployment, and analyze how that would affect the home-based personnel coverage.
Twelve personnel were requested to staff the fast truck, and he said that basically the fire apparatus and personnel in the three deployments was the fire department in New Orleans. Five of 37 fire stations in New Orleans were operational, with the others a complete loss. Some of their firefighters were also missing due to meeting personal family needs. The assisting fire personnel were able to help some of these stricken firefighters during their time off duty. Looting began and fires were being intentionally set in the chaos of the situation. The objectives were to provide communities with fire emergency services, of which there were none, which required putting a system back into place and establishing a command structure. Officer Jackson said it was like walking into a Steven Spielberg movie with streets empty of people. They were stationed in the Algiers section of the French Quarter, and slept in tents at their base camp. He noted that they were faced with using equipment and fire apparatus which they had not used before, had to adapt to a whole new approach of emergency services including fighting termites and other insects, sniper shootings, working with personnel from different parts of the country, facing the daily emergencies, and dealing with the constant noise of generators running to maintain the bases.
Chief Jackson then described what they felt was learned from this experience. First, they tested the MABAS system which proved to work well. They also tested the Village deployment plan and had the ability to review their own preparedness in the Village of Downers Grove. The experience reaffirmed the need for daily training to build team cohesiveness. He thanked the Mayor and the Council, as well as staff, Fleet Maintenance, the Police and Fire administration, and the personnel of both Departments for their support, and for their dedication and hard work.
Mayor Krajewski thanked both the Police and Fire Departments and their staff, then asked who activates ILEAS and MABAS . Officer Rountree said that the Governor of the State in need calls the Illinois Governor to activate ILEAS . They received rules of engagement, and were always accompanied by a Louisiana State Trooper when on patrol. Louisiana’s deadly force policy mirrors that of Illinois. In further response to the Mayor, Officer Rountree said they were fortunate not to have to use any type of force.
Commissioner Sandack thanked all of the personnel for their efforts, saying they made the Village proud.
Commissioner McConnell said as part of the Public Safety Committee she saw the longer presentation made by the Departments which included more of the difficulties they faced. She said they learned a tremendous amount not only for the Village, but to realize that we are a world-community that cannot work in isolation, but is depending upon the cooperation of everyone.
Commissioner Tully expressed his appreciation as well, noting that this was a major undertaking. He thanked them all for representing the Village so capably.
Mayor Krajewski asked how long the trip to New Orleans took given not only the number of personnel, but also the apparatus that had to be transported. Deputy Jackson said the first deployment took 23 hours. Fuel stops were 1 to 1-1/2 hours, if fuel could be found further south. The second deployment took about 12 hours because there was no apparatus to transport.
Commissioner Schnell added her thanks and pride in the job that was done. She added that it is nice to know that the training and time spent works, and gives a feeling of security. Officer Rountree said that Illinois was recognized as doing an excellent job because of the structure provided through the ILEAS and MABAS programs.
Commissioner Waldack thanked those who went down to assist, as well as the families of those personnel who had to continue while they were gone.
Officer Rountree said that the Village of Downers Grove is represented in Louisiana in another way. In 1992 Officer Cathy Fletchen left the Village to become a State Trooper in Louisiana. He was the officer who replaced her in the Village. He said that she is now the Public Relations person in New Orleans, and represents the Village quite well.
Bid: Vehicle Purchase – Ambulance. The Manager said this concerns equipment replacement and staff recommends the purchase of a 2006 Ford E-450 ambulance in the amount of $133,576. The Mayor asked if this is the same as other ambulances recently purchased.
Fire Chief Phil Ruscetti said it is slightly different in terms of the patient compartment. Due to size restrictions at Station #2 they had to go with a van style which has a smaller chassis. He said they will request a bigger vehicle the next time they purchase an ambulance, upon the completion of Station 2.
Bid: Vehicle Purchase – Fire Administration. The Manager said this was included in the FY 2005 -06 budget as a replacement vehicle. Staff recommends purchasing a 2006 Ford Expedition from Joe Madden Ford in the amount of $27,550.
Active Agenda and Informational Items
Ordinance Amending Open Burning Provisions – Multi-Family Buildings. The Manager said the present ordinance eliminates almost all outdoor burning on balconies of multi-family properties. The proposed amendment would rescind the ban on gas grills on multi-family properties.
Commissioner Schnell asked how they intend to notify people about this, and how the Village will know whether they are using the right type of equipment.
Fire Prevention Chief Larry Bazaar stated that this relates to multi-family units, most of which have homeowners associations. He has spoken with several association representatives, and their officers will notify the owners/tenants of this ordinance through a monthly newsletter and/or monthly meetings.
Chief Ruscetti responded that notification would be made through newsletters to groups with which the Department has been working. In further response to Commissioner Schnell, the Chief said that people with concrete patios cannot use other grills.
Commissioner Schnell said she has concerns because the ordinance allows gas grills, but not charcoal grills. She is concerned about the enforcement and making people understand that they cannot use anything other than gas grills. Chief Ruscetti said they will be working with homeowners’ associations. When a gas grill is shut off, it is off. Charcoal grills take longer to cool off.
Manager Pavlicek asked about sprinklered buildings, and Chief Ruscetti said they can grill on the balcony now if the building is non-combustible. Manager Pavlicek said it is obvious that there is a public information job to be done if this ordinance is adopted.
Commissioner Schnell expressed concern that this is enforceable, and that people will abide by the rules.
Commissioner McConnell asked whether there is language regarding combustible versus non-combustible buildings. Manager Pavlicek said legal staff will verify that before it comes back to Council. Commissioner McConnell said it may make sense to put it in the amendment.
Commissioner Tully said that a gas grill on a balcony is similar to a gas stove within the unit. Mr. Bazaar said in many cases it is safer because grills are covered.
Commissioner Tully noted that cookers are different due to the physical characteristics of the units.
Mayor Krajewski then asked about the ambulance purchase, and whether they intend to wait 12 years before a replacement ambulance is purchased.
Deputy Fire Chief Jackson said that once the replacement program is in place with Fleet Maintenance they will reduce the amount of time to an 8-year lifetime before an ambulance is put in reserve. The chassis will be smaller for Station 2, but not the box portion.
Ordinance Amending Time Restriction for Garbage Set-Out. The Manager said this amendment is in response to public comment, proposing that the 6:00 p.m. restriction be changed to 12:00 Noon, and that the 7:00 p.m. restriction for returning the containers be changed to midnight.
The Mayor asked whether any provisions are made for people to call if they are having special requests, such as removal of carpeting, etc.
Assistant Village Manager Mike Baker said if residents call and it is a reasonable request, it will be honored.
Bus System Evaluation Discussion – Part 1. The Manager said staff has included a memorandum from the Transportation Advisory Commission (TAC). She said that staff is working on preparing a more comprehensive report from a financial perspective for December 13.
Public Works Director Dave Barber said Council requested that the TAC come back and discuss the situation with the buses a year after the parking deck opened. He noted that several members of the Commission were present at the meeting. He said that during the year there were many opportunities to speak with the riders, and when the routes were reorganized, people commented favorably about it. The new routes were implemented on October 31and there have been positive comments. Ridership has increased, although not as high as they would like; however, it is the first upward swing over a long period of time. The original CMAQ grant they applied for was turned down, but now the Village can apply to replace all eight buses through PACE at 80% of the grant amount. There has been progress made. He introduced Bob Kollmar to make the presentation.
Bob Kollmar , resident at 1420 Concord Drive and co-chair of the TAC , said that the Commission was formed 15 months ago to consider transportation and commuter matters as they affect the Village. Most importantly they were commissioned to take action. The seven commissioners together have 90 years of transportation experience and 150 years of financial experience. The TAC oversees 8 buses, 12 drivers, the parking deck and the commuter parking system. He reviewed the accomplishments they have achieved so far. A southwest Park and Ride has been opened at 63rd and Woodward, the Park and Ride at 75th and Fairview has been renewed, improved signage has been installed, staff analyzed bus routes and will be participating in the DuPage Mayors and Manager’s Circulator study. There was significant input from the community as to the bus routes, and staff simplified those routes. The Park and Ride lots have been assimilated into the system as well. They evaluated adding earlier and later runs but decided from a financial standpoint it cannot be done. Advertising now appears on the buses as well. When the DuPage Mayor and Manager’s study begins, the TAC feels they are in a good position to be part of that study. Mr. Kollmar said that the Village was able to secure eight replacement buses, and PACE has become a true partner with the Village. The TAC has also recommended the purchase of eight new 28-passenger buses which will be fueled with natural gas. The Council has authorized the CMAQ grant for the purchase of the eight new buses for $112,000, which provides a commitment for the residents. The key reason for riders abandoning the bus system was lack of a long-term commitment on the part of the Village. This would eliminate the maintenance dilemma, eliminate the larger buses, and stimulate commitment to the commuter system.
Mr. Kollmar said the Village has been asked to explore the reverse commuter service by the Sara Lee Corporation, which would be a subscription service paid for by the corporation. In addition, they have explored the possibility of operating a shuttle run from the Fairview parking lot, which is underutilized, to the Main Street train station. The Commission believes it is possible to increase the service with a net revenue using the shuttle. The parking rate structure has been reviewed and they believe it to be under-priced. A recommendation will be made to the Council by the TAC for an equitable rate adjustment for parking.
Mayor Krajewski asked whether the parking rates have been compared to neighboring communities, and Mr. Kollmar said that the neighboring communities are under-priced as well. Mayor Krajewski said he doesn’t want to raise prices to force people to ride the buses. He would rather explore the reverse commuter program. They need data to give to Metra as they review the scheduling of evening trains in an effort to change it. He added that the Legal Department needs to work with TAC regarding the parking rates and Metra-owned lots.
Manager Pavlicek said that staff needs to provide specific dollar amounts on maintenance. That will be available on December 13.
Commissioner Sandack asked when the CMAQ determination came back. Mr. Barber said it was about 45 days ago, but the staff had already worked out arrangements with the PACE grant. It was the same grant but PACE applied on their own and received more money. The Village agreed to more buses.
Commissioner Schnell commended the Commission on their efforts and the quality of the work. She agrees that until a commitment is made, ridership will not increase. She is happy to see the opportunity to obtain the smaller buses. She asked about restrictions that PACE would place on the Village with regard to the grant and buses. Mr. Kollmar responded that the Village can use the buses as they wish as long as there is no charter service. Commissioner Schnell said she would like Legal to review the grants.
Mr. Barber described the circulator concept. He said that the Village could use the buses without having to buy new buses, since the circulator buses do not run during rush hours.
Commissioner Schnell said that the Village might also be able to reduce the taxi subsidy as a result of this. She has heard from residents who can only get to work by taxicab. She asked whether the Commission has looked at lowering the cost of daily fees, or the 12-ride ticket. Mr. Kollmar said they will undertake this issue.
Mayor Krajewski asked about the daily rate for the buses. Mr. Barber said that the monthly pass is $45.00. A 12 -ride pass is $1.50 each ride.
Commissioner Waldack said he appreciated the work the Commission has done, noting he has attended meetings. It is a professional Commission made up of specialized knowledge. He believes the $14,000 per bus is a great deal. Regarding paratransit, people use taxis because they have no other options. Making buses available through increased schedules would be valuable to the Village. He is excited about the potential for the reverse commute which has a lot of possibilities. This could be a good tool for EDC to use as a selling point to draw business to the Village. Commissioner Waldack said that the circulator system is also extremely exciting due to the investment that the Village has made in the community. These buses would also ease paratransit needs by providing a way for people to get downtown as well as relieve congestion, particularly during the upcoming construction. In regard to parking rates, he believes the Village is comparable to other communities, but in comparison to Chicago’s community, the Village is very cheap. He said that taxpayers have called him saying that the Village should consider continuing the bus system, and they would not mind having taxes going to this type of project.
Commissioner McConnell added her thanks to the creativity of the Commission and said she looks forward to the cost analysis report. She asked whether the buses will be ADA compliant and Mr. Kollmar said they would.
Commissioner McConnell asked whether there would be a subscription service built around the ADA needs. She also supports the reverse commute concept.
Commissioner Tully said that the TAC was challenged in the work it was given by the Council. They’ve achieved many accomplishments in a short period of time with no budget. He commended the Commission for bringing viable plans to the forefront that can now be analyzed. They have opened up minds as to options for utilizing this asset regarding circulation, congestion mitigation, long-term planning. The key question is the long-term commitment of the Village, and the long-term financial figures. In terms of parking, he hesitates at legislating a lifestyle choice to residents. He noted that the TAC is a recommending board and has done more than its task in reviewing this important issue.
The Mayor said that if the bus system is an asset to the community, we all have to contribute to its success. He asked whether TAC is working on a survey to businesses regarding reverse commutes. Mr. Barber said that there is limited Village staff working on the bus routes. They have worked with Sara Lee in terms of costs. This is something staff hopes to do after the first of the year. Manager Pavlicek said that they could coordinate with the Manager’s office to assign staff to work with this.
The Mayor said he agrees that ridership will not increase until the Council commits to long-term support. Currently the deficit is $400,000 and they may have to consider levying taxes for this. He said that the Village needs to come up with a plan.
George Swimmer , 4905 Main Street, said he thought the bus system was dead a few years ago, but now he’s fairly confident that it will continue.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Public Services Committee
Commissioner Schnell reported on the Public Services Committee. At the last meeting they discussed LPDAs and drainage control maps. She said Council had directed staff to come up with a plan to eliminate LPDAs, and staff has said they cannot be eliminated, but they can be reduced. The idea of the map and identification of the areas is to protect structures and neighbors of the structures. She then reviewed the criteria to remove LPDAs from the map. Using the criteria staff was able to make a 25% reduction in LPDAs. Commissioner Schnell said that revisions need to be made in the ordinance and those revisions will come before the Council in January. She noted that staff was given the go-ahead for the Stormwater Master Plan by the Council. The Village has a responsibility to the residents that LPDAs be identified so people interested in building understand that there are problem areas that have to be addressed. She added that staff proposes putting the map on the Internet so people will be able to look up their own areas.
The Mayor said that Downers Grove is one of two communities that have LPDAs, and if they are eliminated, the Village will still have to follow the County Ordinance. He asked what the benefit is of incorporating the LPDAs into the County map. Mr. Barber responded that just the severe areas will be incorporated. The main reason for this is for notification so people are aware of the property condition before making a commitment toward construction. He said in the County Ordinance there is a site-specific flood plain. There are areas which are not mapped and are potentially floodable, which is what LPDAs actually are. The Village has identified these areas to prevent flooding of the areas. When there is a development in the area they must determine the specific overflow. As a full-waiver community, the Village has to go out and review the location. With the map they will know ahead of time that it is a potentially floodable area. The mapping provides specific overflow elevations in an area. They hope to be able to eliminate a few more areas, and there will be some Code changes required.
Commissioner Schnell said that one of the advantages to getting the map on-line is to determine whether a location is in a special management area, and whether extra expenses would be incurred. Mr. Barber added that the Village would also notify realtors of this resource.
The Mayor asked whether stormwater management would reduce the LPDAs and Mr. Barber responded that there is a possibility that storm sewer improvements could improve some areas; however, there are areas which hold water whether it rains or not.
Public Safety Committee
Commissioner McConnell said that Public Safety met earlier in the evening. They received the overtime reports from the Police and Fire Departments for the second quarter. She said that $125,000 was spent in overtime for Katrina which the Village hopes to recoup. She indicated that they have received an update on the downtown dialogue regarding some issues such as skateboarding, etc. The feedback is that things have improved, and having an officer downtown is helpful. The Committee also discussed the promotional process of the Fire Department, saying it is very regulated. The Police Department promotional activities have just concluded.
Commissioner Sandack wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
Commissioner Waldack extended his wishes for a happy and safe Thanksgiving. He reminded everyone that there is no meeting of the Council next week.
Commissioner Schnell echoed the wishes for a happy holiday.
Assistant Manager Mike Baker said that he and Dave Fieldman met with business owners regarding Acadia on the Green redevelopment project. Fencing off the site will begin on November 28, and the Curtiss lot will be closed. There will be adequate signage to the parking deck and all attempts will be made to ensure that disruption is minimal.
Commissioner McConnell said that the Character Counts Coalition will sponsor a Foundations for Life essay contest in conjunction with District 99. She said more information would be provided. Winning essays will be submitted to the national contest. She also wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
Commissioner Tully thanked Don Wilson and the cable crew for their coverage of the Council’s unusual meeting last week. He was impressed by how quickly the cable crew got the cameras up and working when the power outage occurred. He extended his appreciation to all involved. He also thanked Midwestern University and Kevin Burns for hosting the last Coffee with the Council. This holiday weekend brings Hospitality Sunday to the Village with the Santa Parade beginning at 1:00 p.m., and a tree lighting ceremony at 4:00 p.m. He invited residents to attend. On Thanksgiving morning the second annual Bonfield Express Foundation 5K run/walk will take place. He wished everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
The Mayor thanked Dave Fieldman and Don Rosenthal for hosting the Sign Ordinance forum with the Chamber of Commerce. He also thanked staff for their work at last week’s meeting. He noted that the Manager got the Mayor a gavel. The Mayor thanked all the organizations and children who decorated the ornaments for the tree. There are 1,109 ornaments from the community. He also thanked the Robinson family for the first community holiday tree, and Bonnie Becvar for donating the second tree after the first was damaged by winds. He wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting two items to the Council: 1) An ordinance amending open burning provisions as they relate to multi-family buildings; and 2) An ordinance amending restrictions for the placement of garbage, refuse, recyclables, compostable materials, etc. on parkways for scavenger removal.
MANAGER ’S REPORT
Manager Pavlicek announced that Village offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday. No packets will be distributed, and next Tuesday evening the Village Hall offices will close at 5:00 p.m.
George Swimmer , 4905 Main Street, commented that the downtown area is very fragile. He thanked the Council for helping to build up the area. He thinks Acadia on the Green will be good for business; however, the bulk of profit for these businesses is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He thinks it is ludicrous to close the parking lot and tear down buildings on November 28 and borders on insanity. And to tear down a building on December 5 will not allow some deliveries to be made at this busiest time of the year. He asked the Village to look at this situation. He asked that this be postponed until December 26.
Manager Pavlicek said staff became aware of many of these issues today. They will look at options and want to work in partnership with the businesses. The Village is sensitive to what’s happening downtown and is not taking the concerns expressed lightly.
Mr. Swimmer said that this project has to be delayed unequivocally. People will go elsewhere for their holiday shopping. It is an emergency situation which has to be addressed quickly. It is an untenable situation.
Manager Pavlicek said that if this does proceed the Village will make sure it is not an undesirable environment and that it will still be a safe and family-friendly environment.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tm