Lee Fronabarger – NCNA Candidate Questionnaire Response

Question 1: What are your ideas or plans to help the downtown strip and town square stay alive?

Answer 1: The new TIF District #2 will assist in the re-development of the downtown and townsquare areas providing incentives and assistance to developers. Carbondale Main Street Program, which the city helps fund, provides much assistance and resources to current businesses and prospective businesses in their District. Planning by Main Street of more activities and special promotions to bring more people into the area should continue. I would like the city to be successful in obtaining a Community Development Block Grant to move utility lines and do a major streetscaping project with special lighting in the Downtown. Whether these Grants get axed by Congress in their belt tightening is yet to be seen, but the National League of Cities is fighting for them to be preserved and I hope they are successful because we and other cities need those funds to make needed improvements to our communities.

Question 2: How can the city show local business owners that Carbondale is a good place for their businesses?

Answer 2: By working as a partner with the local business owners, providing financial assistance through Revolving Loan Program, clearly outlining business and sign ordinances, making visits from time to time to see how things are going, list available resources to businesses, both from the city and the university’s Small Business Development program.  Also encourage through promotions for city employees and citizens to shop locally maybe by working in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce.

Question 3: Do you have any ideas for the several empty lots downtown where old buildings were torn down?

Answer 3: Many of the lots are within the new TIF District #2 and special program incentives are currently being offered to potential developers for the old Tap lot. A while back a consultant for Illinois Main Street Program visited and toured our downtown and noted our buildings needed to be more contiguous to form a solid or district look to our downtown which I do agree with his observation.

Question 4: Do you have any ideas on how to resolve the differences between SIU’s population and our town’s population?

Answer 4: Sponsor a town/gown Hall Meeting to discuss and determine many of the common “wants” of both the student and town resident populations, as well as some of the differing areas of concern. Encourage more community events that would involve both populations.

Question 5: What is your stance on animal control and the city’s often ignored leash law?

Answer 5: If an animal or animals are causing trouble, talk to the pet owner first if they can be identified. If not, notify Animal Control of the issues to see if there can be a solution to the problem.

Question 6: What is your opinion on community plastic bag bans or programs in which businesses implement a charge on plastic bags? Would you support such an effort in Carbondale? Why or why not?

Answer 6: The businesses affected must first be included in the discussion to find out if this would be a detriment to them doing business in Carbondale and cause their customer base to be unhappy and go elsewhere to another town to shop. Explore how other similar size communities have handled this and list the pros and cons that could occur. It might be a matter of consumer education resulting in a habit change when going shopping. Want to investigate thoroughly first before forcing onto business community which could be viewed as a negative to doing business in Carbondale.

Question 7: Do you support a strong lighting ordinance? Are you familiar with research that finds that more light does not necessarily equal less crime?

Answer 7: I am not familiar with that research, but Police Departments do recommend lighting for safety and the newer lighting systems prevent light overflow to nearby areas.

Question 8: The Northwest Carbondale Neighborhood Association board of directors has proposed creation of a Traditional Neighborhood District within our zoning code as a way to encourage reinvestment in our older neighborhoods. Would you support the creation of such a district, either as a stand-alone district or as an overlay on our existing districts? Why or why not?

Answer 8: Either a Traditional or Heritage or Old Town Neighborhood District that would preserve the uniqueness, styles, and architectural features of the older city neighborhoods would be a good idea. Again research is needed to see how other cities across the United States have handled this preservation of older neighborhoods.

Question 9: Is there a role for the city government to play in Carbondale’s park system, or should the parks be left entirely to the Carbondale Park District? If you believe the city government has a role, please explain what the city government’s role should be.

Answer 9: The City and Park District should work together to obtain IDNR grants for the purchase of park land and to construct and place park facilities and playground equipment in those new parks/open green spaces in neighborhood areas. Grants for bike and pedestrian trails to these parks or to connect the parks in town should also be explored. Sometimes funding sources for recreational items are through city resources and programs so the two should partner to provide the best possible recreational facilities. We seem to be lagging behind Cape Girardeau, Paducah, and Mt. Vernon in the area of recreational facilities when you visit these communities.

Question 10: Is there a role for the city to play in improving Carbondale’s schools, or should the schools be left entirely to the school districts? If you believe the city government has a role, please explain what the city government’s role should be.

Answer 10: This is primarily the school systems responsibility and they have the expertise in learning techniques, curriculum, etc. and they have their own funding sources.

The City can make sure that infrastructure is good around the schools like streets, lighting, sidewalks, and water & sewer systems. If building additions or new school buildings are needed, then the City can investigate how they might help out on financing like was done for the new Carbondale Community High School to keep the property taxes down.

Question 11: Many streets within the Northwest Carbondale Neighborhood Association’s boundaries lack sidewalks, or curb and gutter storm water drainage, or both. Do you think investment in this infrastructure is a priority and, if so, how would you propose funding these expensive projects?

Answer 11: Priorities for projects citywide would have to be set due to the very limited amount of funding currently available. Amount of vehicle and foot traffic along a street would need to be taken into consideration. Usually homeowners bare a part of sidewalk construction in front of their properties. Some cities impose a small sales tax to cover transportation projects in their communities, so interest would have to be gauged for such a revenue source in our community.

With the federal and state governments trying to balance their budgets and cut back on spending, it remains to be seen how funding programs to cities for community development projects will be impacted.

Question 12: The city recently created a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district on Oakland Avenue. How do you think the city should spend its share of the increment generated by successful redevelopment in that area? How would you approach possible rezoning within the city’s newly created Oakland Avenue TIF district, especially properties such as the old National Guard Armory, the old High School buildings, and the old Coca-Cola warehouse that now houses the Oakland Auto Shop? Please be as specific as possible.

Answer 12: TIF funds should be used for infrastructure projects like sidewalks, streetscaping and special lighting, and maybe additional parking areas for the two larger buildings. The old high school building may require some type of mixed use zoning to utilize all areas of complex. Here again doing research on what other cities have done with such buildings could be very helpful. I have already seen some very nice redevelopments of old armory buildings from searching on the internet. Some developments, with proper investment and community backing, have proven to be very creative, resourceful, and successful, and that is exactly what we need to do.

We need to find good uses for these buildings so they do not continue to deteriorate and become even more of a problem to the neighborhood and city as a whole, and yet not disturb the atmosphere of the rest of the neighborhood.

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