Allowing alcohol consumption at large gathering during during COVID-19 outbreak to be discussed at Decatur City Council Meeting
The Decatur City Council will be voting on 12 items during its next meeting on Monday, October 19 at 5:30 PM. Among the topics to be discussed include a potential, new, $5 million housing facility, a farm lease for the land located at the Oakley Sediment Basin, and whether to approve alcohol consumption at the Downtown Decatur Christmas Walk. Below is additional information about some of the agenda items.
THE CITY COUNCIL MAY APPROVE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION AT LARGE GATHERING THAT CONTRADICTS CITY’S COVID-19 SAFETY GUIDELINES
City staff are recommending that the city council approve an ordinance allowing for consumption of alcoholic liquor on city streets and specifically the 100 block of E. Prairie St. and Merchant Street as part of the 2020 DEC the TOWN, Downtown Decatur Christmas Walk on December 2. According to the Downtown Decatur Christmas Walk Plan, the health guidelines for the event include “Masks will be recommended for all customers, staff, and volunteers.” If the city council were to approve alcoholic consumption and the plan, it would be in violation of its city code which states that “Licensees shall require patrons and employees of licensees wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times …” While I have been a supporter and participant in past walks, it is unclear why the city staff is recommending this ordinance to the council given the high COVID-19 positivity rate in our county and concerns that large gatherings may facilitate the spread of COVID-19.
OAKLEY SEDIMENT BASIN MAY SOON BE PLANTED WITH ORGANIC CROPS
The basin created to store sediment from the dredging of Lake Decatur may soon be used for agriculture. The Decatur City Council is considering an agreement with Clarkson Farm that would provide a 16-month lease to plant up to 130 acres in organic cereal rye and clover. While agricultural use of the basin may not be the best long-term use of the sediment basin (e.g., the land may be viable for alternative energy uses such as wind and solar), in the short-term organic crops are complementary to the city’s objectives. For example, the city wants to reduce the amount of nitrates entering the watershed including those derived from synthetic fertilizers and organic farming does not allow for synthetic fertilizers.
NEW $5 MILLION HOUSING FACILITY MAY BE COMING TO DECATUR
The number of new housing units built in Decatur in recent years has been limited. Thus, it is very exciting to see that Woodford Homes and the Macon County Mental Health Board are seeking $5 million in grant and other funding to build a new 20-unit, one-story building that will provide permanent supportive housing. As part of the matching requirement for the grant, the city would provide approximately $250,000 in CDBG/HOME funds in 2021 (CDBG/HOME funds have been used for similar projects in the past). If grant funding is received, and after the new housing project is complete, Woodford Homes and the Macon County Health Board would provide the city with one of its properties that in the short-term could be used for transitional housing and in the long-term could be used as part of a yet-to-be-decided larger redevelopment project.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss this or any other issue with a city council member, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
Meetings take place at the Theater located on the second floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings and express their views. Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, citizens can provide comments regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting). You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE
An agenda and information about each agenda item for each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.