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Friday, July 24th, 2009

City is closer to deal for more parking

Celina downtown

By William Kincaid
Celina downtown merchants likely will not be expected to pay for a future municipal parking lot.
City council members are of the general consensus that merchants should be encouraged to pledge money but will not be obligated to pay for the development of a parking lot.
"I'm just looking for direction," Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan told council members on Wednesday night during a community betterment committee meeting.
Bryan said he may have a proposal to acquire the former Gibbons Medical Center on Fayette Street from Harbor Life Ministries as soon as the next council meeting, which is Monday night. If demolished, the former medical center could provide up to 30 additional parking spots for those visiting downtown.
Bryan said multiple scenarios have been talked about in negotiations, such as acquiring the land before or after the building is demolished. A dollar figure of $150,000 was mentioned several times.
The city also has considered swapping some of its own land for the property in question. Bryan did not say which city properties are in question of being exchanged as negotiations are not finished.
"Where are we going to get the money from?" Councilman Bill Sell asked.
"It's certainly not in the general fund," Bryan responded.
Bryan said the city could use its revolving loan fund or wait until a plan for consolidating the city's three tax increment finance (TIF) districts - the Grand Lake, state Route 703 and Market Street TIFs - comes to fruition.
That plan was proposed in November 2008 as a method of paying for the final phase of the walkway but since has been delayed, Bryan said.
Councilman Ed Jeffries questioned the equity of a possible land swap, saying the city property in question has value.
Council members agreed downtown property owners could pledge as much as they wanted to the project, especially since the country is still in a recession. They suggested $25 or $50 a month toward the purchase of the lot or its amenities, such as security cameras.
Councilor Jeff Larmore said that the former Gibbons Hospital and the jail property, once demolished, would provide more parking spaces than what is available now, regardless of what kind of downtown parking is installed. Council members still have not decided whether to go with parallel or angled parking downtown as part of the upcoming Main Street reconstruction project.
Additional online stories on this date
Rockford resident Terry M. Shaffer, 48, a former Parkway school board member, was sentenced to 60 days in jail on two counts of persistent disorderly conduct. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced Thursday in Celina Municipal Court. [More]
Last December Mike Wessel got the chance to compete at the highest level of mixed martial arts.
The Celina native will now get a chance to show his wares to a national television audience. [More]
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