City council meeting to focus on broadband access, new fire station and fire engines. COVID-19 is surging in Decatur
The next city council meeting will take place on Monday, August 16 at 5:30 PM and will include 15 agenda items including significant changes to the city’s broadband network, the construction of a new fire station, the purchase of two fire engines, demolitions of dilapidated properties, and the results of the 2020 audit.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES COMING TO CITY’S BROADBAND NETWORK
Particularly noteworthy will be a vote on an agreement with SiFi Networks Decatur for installing broadband in areas of the city currently not serviced by the city’s network. Specifically, the company will work as a private utility offering equivalent or better service to that of the city’s broadband network. SiFi Networks will then contract with Internet Service Providers to use the broadband to provide internet and broadband services to the provider’s customers. The agreement is non-exclusive and other companies would be able to enter the Decatur market.
There are likely to be multiple advantages to this approach including faster buildout of the broadband network (3 years vs. 15+ years), the ability to implement Decatur’s Smart City objectives more rapidly, and less buildout cost by the city. In addition, the city would collect gross receipts taxes from customers and SiFi Networks would pay right-of-way fees.
NEW FIRE STATION AND ENGINES WILL BE COMING TO CITY
The city council will likely vote on the construction of a new Fire Station #7 to be located at 3530 and 3550 E. Chestnut Ave., and the purchase of 2 new fire apparatus (Pierce Enforcer pumpers) that will replace apparatus purchased in 2001. The Pierce Enforcers have 500-gallon water tanks and 2,000 gallon per minute pumps. In addition, one of the trucks will have a 61-foot elevated waterway.
Moving Fire Station #7 is particularly important because it will now be more geographically centered within the current and projected service area. The new location should reduce average response time and lowering response time saves lives and may better protect property.
COVID-19 IS SURGING IN DECATUR
Macon County’s COVID-19 case rate (190 per 100k), test positivity (7.8%), and number of emergency department visits for COVID-like symptoms (5.6%) are at the worst levels seen in months (as updated 8/13). The number of new cases (170 vs. 286), number of individuals in home isolation (289 vs. 489), and number hospitalized (17 vs. 21) have increased 68%, 69%, and 24%, respectfully in two weeks (week prior to 8/6 vs. week prior to 8/13). Furthermore, Macon County’s 40% fully vaccinated rate is 25% below the rates of Champaign, McLean, and Sangamon Counties whose rates are 50-51%. Given the alarming resurgence of COVID-19 in Decatur, the city council should review and revise its local laws as it pertains to the greatest health crisis of our lifetimes.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT THE NEXT CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Meetings take place at the Council Chambers located on the third 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/.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss city issues with a council member, phone numbers and email addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
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/.