Category Archives: News

Citizens Club: Confronting Inequities in Springfield: Housing Challenges 10/6, 5:30pm

Please join the Citizen’s Club for a special virtual evening policy forum: 

Confronting Inequities in Springfield: Housing Challenges
Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 5:30 – 7 pm

Register here:

Moderator: MARCELLA BAIETTO, Evening Anchor at FOX 55/27 Illinois


Springfield Immigrant Advocacy Network (SIAN), Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for Memorial Health System

Interim Director for the School of Public Management and Policy at the University of Illinois Springfield

Executive Director of the Springfield Housing Authority and Chief Executive Officer of the Peoria Housing Authority

President of Harvard Park Neighborhood Association

This program is the third program in the Confronting Inequities in Springfield series, sponsored by the Citizens Club of Springfield in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield. The goal of the series is to increase the public’s awareness of disparities that exist in our own backyard and to encourage discussion and action to create a more just and equitable community.

This program will focus on strides made and continuing challenges in securing and maintaining affordable and safe housing for all residents of our community. The panelists will address the issues low-income and immigrant residents face securing affordable and safe housing, the aging housing stock including the need for revitalization, the need for quality housing throughout our community, policy discussions/advocacy efforts, and the status of current and future plans.

The Steering Committee for the series includes Willis Logan, Dominic Watson, John Allen, Maria Crain, Sheila Stocks-Smith, Lisa Stone, John Stremsterfer, Lakeisha Purchase, Richard Bowen, and Beverly Bunch.

Two Ways to Watch:

This is a virtual event which can be viewed via Zoom Webinar. Pre-registration is required.
Register here:

The event will also be streamed live on Citizens Club of Springfield Facebook Page. No registration required.

ICON May 2021 Membership Meeting – Mike Jackson on Historic Preservation, City Planning, Older Neighborhoods

Springfield ICON held their May 2021 membership meeting on May 24, 2021 via Zoom. Architect Mike Jackson joined us to discuss historic preservation, city planning and the impact (or lack of impact) on older neighborhoods.

ICON Meeting – July 27, 2020

First Virtual ICON Monthly Membership Meeting


  1. Call to order
  2. ICON Business
    1. Approval of February 2020 meeting minutes
      1. Minutes can be found here: Membership-Minutes-20200224
    2. Treasurer’s Report
  3. Committee Updates
    1. City Counsel
      1. Non-owner occupied property registration
      2. The city’s new Housing Policy Counsel
    2. Problem Properties
    3. Events
      1. Update on Annual ICON meeting
    4. Communications
      1. Upcoming ICON newsletter
  4. Old Business
  5. New Business
  6. Adjourn

Social discussion will follow.

Springfield City Council – what’s happening in your city

You don’t have to show up at city hall on Tuesday night to keep apprised of what our city leaders are deciding for your benefit.

The Springfield Council meets nearly every Tuesday at 5:30pm in the City Council Chambers, 300 S. 7th Street, 3rd Floor, except for months with 5 Tuesdays, when they take the 4th Tuesday off.

  • City Council meets the first and third Tuesday of the month.
  • The Committee of the Whole meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

Confused about the above? Find out how the council works:  (from 5/10/2016)

How to watch Springfield City Council meetings

How to Address the Council

Please see above about attending the council in person. You must sign up to attend and to address the council. Alternatively, you may address the council over the phone during the meeting by signing up using the link above.

Hearts for Healthcare Workers – signs for members!

Springfield ICON has purchased a limited number of yard signs from Hearts for Healthcare. Any ICON member in good standing may request a sign for their yard until signs run out.

To request a sign, email or call Polly Poskin at 217-741-3264.

Who Benefits?

Across the country hundreds of hospitals and their foundations are making great strides to address the challenges of supply shortages, facility inefficiencies and a great strain on our healthcare workers. It is our mission to not only show our support through an inspiring community-wide display of signs, but to also provide funds to the foundations that represent those hospitals on the front lines of the current pandemic facing America.

See beneficiaries…

Get more information, purchase your own sign, or make a donation at

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICON monthly meetings will be cancelled until further notice.

Pillsbury Cleanup Saturday, March 7

Moving Pillsbury Forward will hold a Pillsbury Cleanup Day on Saturday, March 7, 9am-Noon, 15th and Phillips.

Where:  Corner of 15th St. & Philips St.
When:   9:00 am until Noon
What:  We will be removing trash, litter, and weeds around (not on) the Pillsbury property
Why:  To improve health, safety and general quality of life in the area.

Wear gloves. Bring loppers and/or a rake if you wish.
Donuts, water, coffee for all!

Sign-in starts at 8:30.  Needed tools and supplies will be provided but, bringing your own is good also. With enough volunteers we can get this done and work our way into cleanup of adjacent streets and alleys also.

Hope to see everyone there!
Doughnuts sponsor: Krispy Kreme
Coffee sponsor: Custom Cup
Bottled water sponsor: County Market

Contact for more information.

Huge thanks to the Moving Pillsbury Forward working group!

Kudos to Chris Richmond and the grassroots “Moving Pillsbury Forward” (MPF) working group! 

MPF is a group of community volunteers focusing on understanding the challenges and issues related to the Pillsbury property.  They are working hard to get everyone together to get the facts out, dispel misinformation, evaluate reasonable options, and work together to move forward.

Visit their website for more information:

We will post a PechaKucha presentation by Chris Richmond soon – check back for that!

Basic information about the Pillsbury site

  • The site is located at 15th and East Phillips Street in Springfield, IL. See it in Google maps…
  • The current owners do not have funds to clean up the site. They have a lien of $2m from the EPA from the partial cleanup that was done.
  • The original owners (Pillsbury / Cargill) can’t be held liable unless the site is designated a superfund site, which it is not. Apparently the City is working with the Attorney General and the EPA to see what could be done along those lines, but that seems an unlikely solution.
  • On 11/26/2019 Mary Frances and Chris Richmond addressed the Springfield City Council on the issue. Corporation Counsel and council members conjectured about the cost to remediate the rest of the asbestos, tear it down and make it ready to reuse for something else. The city estimates over $10m, but nobody really knows. Apparently a large part of the cost is finding somewhere to put the material after the buildings are demolished. The city doesn’t want to take on responsibility for ownership without some idea of how to pay for cleanup.
  • The Moving Pillsbury Forward group mentioned the idea that the material could be spread over the site and capped OR used as fill for highway projects. They have talked to a brownfield project expert, and those options may be more reasonable alternatives than sending the stuff to a landfill. Their plan starts with environmental studies to evaluate how much it would cost to clean up the rest of the hazardous material. They estimate 99% of the bad stuff was removed in 2017.

We applaud Chris Richmond and the MPF group for taking on this issue!

ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser – November 18, 2019 – at the Inn at 835

Presentations | Awards | Photos | Sponsors

ICON held its Annual Party Fundraiser on Monday, November 18, 2019 at the Inn at 835 Conservatory (835 South 2nd Street).

PechaKucha Presentations

Visionaries wanted – what’s your vision for Springfield?

PechaKucha Night ( is a lively event that brings imaginative people together to share inspiration and ideas. Many talents might be hidden within the community and PKN is all about bringing them into the light. Over 800 cities around the world now hold PechaKucha Night events.

The theme of this night is Springfield 2020 and Beyond.     Share your vision of our community.

View the PK presentations from November 18…

ICON Good Neighbor Awards!

ICON Good Neighbor AwardsThe Good Neighbor awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses who make an objective, measurable positive impact on the quality of life for Springfield residents in inner city older neighborhoods.

The 2019 Winners were:

  • Paul O’Shea – Individual
  • Juan Huerta, Director of Community Relations, Springfield, IL – Public Service
  • Tiffany Roe and Litina Carnes, Land of Lincoln Bookshare – Community Organization
  • Bruce and Cheryl Schempp, Kennedy-Schempp Properties, Inc. – Business

Read more about the 2019 Winners here…

Read more about the Good Neighbor Awards and Previous Winners here…

Photos from the Party!

ICON Vice-Chair Polly Poskin introduces 2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winner (Individual) Paul O'Shea.

ICON Vice-Chair Polly Poskin introduces 2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winner (Individual) Paul O’Shea.

2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winner (Public Service) Juan Huerta speaks after being introduced by Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin and Lynn McMenamin.

2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winner (Public Service) Juan Huerta speaks after being introduced by Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin and Lynn McMenamin.

2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winners Community Organization) Tiffany Roe and Litina Carnes, of Land of Lincoln Bookshare, accept their award.

2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winners Community Organization) Tiffany Roe and Litina Carnes, of Land of Lincoln Bookshare, accept their award.

2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winners (Business) Bruce and Cheryl Schempp, of Kennedy-Schempp Properties, Inc., accept their award.

2019 ICON Good Neighbor Award Winners (Business) Bruce and Cheryl Schempp, of Kennedy-Schempp Properties, Inc., accept their award.

Jill Steiner was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on Healthy Neighborhoods for All

Jill Steiner was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on Healthy Neighborhoods for All

ICON Secretary Jess Weitzel introduces a PechaKucha speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser.

ICON Secretary Jess Weitzel introduces a PechaKucha speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser.

Chris Richmond was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on the Pillsbury Plant - Past, Present, and Future

Chris Richmond was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on the Pillsbury Plant – Past, Present, and Future

Mary Frances was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on Ecotourism in Springfield, Illinois

Mary Frances was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on Ecotourism in Springfield, Illinois

John Shafer was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on Some Ideas for Downtown...

John Shafer was a speaker at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser, with a PechaKucha presentation on Some Ideas for Downtown…

Chair Carol Kneedler gives a surprise PechaKucha presentation on ICON 2020 at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser.

Chair Carol Kneedler gives a surprise PechaKucha presentation on ICON 2020 at the 2019 ICON Annual Party & Fundraiser.

Support ICON – Sponsor Better Neighborhoods!

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City film screening, Monday September 23, 5:30pm

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Join Springfield ICON and Downtown Springfield Inc for a screening of the film about Jane Jacobs.September 23, 2019
Doors open at 5:30, film from 6-7:30pm
Lincoln Library
Carnegie North room

Writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs fights to save historic New York City during the ruthless redevelopment era of urban planner Robert Moses in the 1960s.

This 2017 documentary is about the work of Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”.

Join Springfield ICON and Downtown Springfield, Inc. on Monday, September 23, 2019 at at the Lincoln Library, Carnegie North room.
Doors open at 5:30 – film starts at 6:00pm.

Free and open to the public.

Preview the documentary…

Landlord Tenant Workshop – Springfield Community Relations 9/26, 6pm

This free workshop will cover topics of leases, deposits, repairs and evictions. Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, come with your questions and learn important information about the landlord tenant relationships, responsibilities and rights. 

Thursday, September 26, 6pm to 8pm

South Side Christian Church
2600 S. MacArthur Boulevard
Springfield, IL 62704


  • Officer Steven Termine, Springfield Police Department
  • Anthony Mayfield, Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office
  • Attorney Lauren Pashayan, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance
  • Aaron Martin, Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Carol Kneedler, Springfield Inner City Older Neighborhoods
    download ICON’s handout on Being a Good Neighbor and Tenant… (PDF)
  • Matt Morrell, City of Springfield’s Office of Public Works, Building & Zoning

Hosted by the City of Springfield’s Office of Community Relations, Springfield Inner City Older Neighborhoods and South Side Christian Church.

Questions? Call 217.789.2270.

ICON CleanUp – Ash from 11th to Southeast High School – Sat 8/31 7:30am

Join Springfield ICON in cleaning up a major city thoroughfare – Ash Street from 11th to Southeast High School (Taylor Ave) on Saturday August 31. Meet in the large parking lot across the street from First Church of the Brethern at 2115 Yale Blvd, Springfield, IL 62703 at 7:30 am.

Five ICON supporters cleaned up Ash St from 11th to Taylor on Saturday – big thanks to all of them for helping clean up our city’s major thoroughfares!

Cleanup photos

State Fair 9th Street Cleanup – August 7, 5pm

City cleanup - trash bag with litter and pick up stickSpringfield ICON will organize a street cleanup on the first day of the Illinois State Fair – Wednesday, August 7. In honor of the fair, this cleanup will be dubbed “Trash on a Stick”.

Volunteers will meet to organize in the parking lot of Noonan’s Hardware, corner of 8th and North Grand Ave. East at 5pm on Wednesday, August 7.  Bags will be provided. Please bring gloves and something to drink. Depending on the number of volunteers, we will plan to pick up 9th Street from North Grand to Sangamon Avenue.

Thanks to Bill Baskett, President of Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, and Polly Poskin, President of Harvard Park Neighborhood Association for organizing this cleanup.

Springfield ICON members pick up where litterers leave off

By Steven Spearie, Staff Writer
Posted Aug 7, 2019

Armed with trash pickers and garbage bags, members of Springfield Inner City Older Neighborhoods collected refuse Wednesday evening on Ninth Street from North Grand Avenue to Sangamon Avenue.

Ninth Street will be a heavily-traveled artery as the Illinois State Fair opens Thursday, and ICON members want out-of-town visitors and others to take notice of the city.

“The first impression of a city is often, ‘How does it look along the roadways?’” said Polly Poskin, vice president of ICON and president of the Harvard Park Neighborhood Association. “Curb appeal counts. Keeping litter picked up is a way to show we care about our city, that we take pride in our city and also a way to be welcoming.”

This isn’t the first time ICON has done “Trash on a Stick,” as Wednesday’s event was dubbed. Last year, members were on Ninth Street a couple of weeks before the fair, but they’ve also cleaned up on Ash Street, South Grand Avenue, Peoria Road and Sangamon Avenue. [Actually, we’ve done Washington Street and 11th Street, too…]

Bill Baskett, ICON’s treasurer and president of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, said there is a litter problem locally. “(The pickup) is to help beautify parts of the city and maybe help people think twice about throwing stuff out the window,” he added.

Wednesday’s haul for ICON members was six, 39-gallon garbage bags of rubbish.

Read the full article and see photos at…

Park District to apply for Grant to improve Iles Park – meeting Thursday, July 18, 5:30pm

The Springfield Park District will be applying for an OSLAD (Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development) grant to further develop Iles Park.

The Park District will host a public meeting on Thursday July 18 at 5:30pm to inform the public of our intentions, share our plan and solicit feedback.  This is the only item on the agenda.

The public is encouraged to attend.

The Park District Office is in Bunn Park Golf Course.

The 2009 Master Plan for Iles Park can be downloaded here…

Read about Iles Park History…

Springfield Park District
John F. Linxwiler Administrative Office
2500 South 11th Street
Springfield, Illinois
Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.

Yard Waste – support proposed new process

City Council Passes Yard Waste Reform Tuesday, April 16!

Ten ICON members attended and six spoke at City council. Alderman Theilen added an addendum to increase Waste & Recycling fee by $1.50 to pay for all-summer yard waste WITHOUT yard waste stickers!

Springfield City Council will consider a proposal to


The City of Springfield has provided spring and fall yard waste pickup at no additional cost for nearly 30 years. For pickup outside designated spring and fall times, residents have had to purchase $2 yard waste stickers specific to their waste hauler to put on the bags. The process has multiple drawbacks, which you can read about in more detail in the April 3 presentation if you are interested.

On Tuesday April 16, the City Council will be asked to approve, by emergency passage requiring 8 votes, the traditional spring and fall pickup.

HOWEVER, there will also be an amendment to expand pickup throughout the summer with NO STICKERS NEEDED. The funds to cover this year’s pickup are available in the Waste & Recycling fund. There are multiple reasons why the improved expanded program is a great idea.

Also up for discussion will be how to pay for improved service in future years. Given the long-term reduction in infrastructure damage and repairs, improvement in service, a cleaner, better-looking city, and elimination of the cost of stickers used by many residents, the benefits exceed the cost of providing the service.


  • Call, email or text your city council member and tell them you support improved yard waste pickup. Find them here:
  • Call or email the Mayor at 789-2200 and tell him you support improved yard waste pickup.
  • Attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday April 16 at 5:30pm to lend your support.
  • Speak to the council in favor of improved yard waste pickup on Tuesday night by signing up 24 hours in advance.

We will add information as we are aware on this page.

ICON Endorses Neighborhood-Friendly Candidates for 2019 Springfield IL Elections

ICON PAC endorses this candidate for Springfield, IL 2019 election

Springfield ICON PAC endorses the following candidates for Springfield, Illinois Municipal public office for the 2019 Consolidated General Election on April 2, 2019:

City Council

Springfield ICON endorses T. Ray McJunkins for Ward 1 City Council for Springfield, IL.

Ward 1: T. Ray McJunkins

… a founder of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good; familiar with older neighborhood issues; supports garbage reform …

Ward 1 – T. Ray McJunkins

Springfield ICON endorses Gail Simpson for Ward 2 City Council for Springfield, IL

Ward 2: Gail Simpson

… experienced long-time supporter of neighborhood issues, particularly related to problem properties; Gail has a vision for Springfield …

Ward 2 – Gail Simpson

Springfield ICON endorses Alderwoman Doris Turner for Ward 3 City Council for Springfield, IL

Ward 3: Alderwoman Doris Turner

… experienced; a record of supporting neighborhoods; sponsored the boarded and abandoned property ordinance; supports balanced development; 2016 winner of ICON Good Neighbor Award …

Ward 3 – Doris Turner

Springfield ICON endorses Alderman John Fulgenzi for Ward 4 City Council for Springfield, IL

Ward 4: Alderman John Fulgenzi

… an ICON supporter on key votes with an independent perspective …

Ward 4 – John Fulgenzi

Springfield ICON endorses Alderman Andrew Proctor for Ward 5 City Council for Springfield, IL

Ward 5: Alderman Andrew Proctor

… sponsored multiple ICON initiatives for responsible property ownership; supports garbage reform, a full-time City Planner, and infrastructure modernization …
Ward 5 – Andrew Proctor

Springfield ICON endorses Kristin DiCenso for Ward 6 City Council for Springfield, IL.

Ward 6: Kristin DiCenso

… very responsive to constituent concerns; outstanding communication; works hard to support neighborhood associations; sponsored Welcoming City resolution …

Ward 6 – Kristin DiCenso

Springfield ICON endorses Joe McMenamin for Ward 7 City Council for Springfield, IL.

Ward 7: Joe McMenamin

… proven record of support for ICON issues; embodies fiscal restraint, integrity and hard work; a well-researched, independent voter; supports increased transparency for housing violations and boarded properties; supports sewer infrastructure upgrades; ICON Good Neighbor Award 2017 …

Ward 7 – Joe McMenamin

Springfield ICON endorses Erin Conley for Ward 8 City Council for Springfield, IL.

Ward 8: Erin Conley

… founding member and president of Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association; an experienced and dedicated public servant, well-educated on issues; willing to reach out and listen to constituents; supports balanced development, diverse housing and improvements to garbage collection …

Ward 8 – Erin Conley

Springfield ICON endorses Jim Donelan for Ward 9 City Council for Springfield, IL.

Ward 9: Jim Donelan

… understands older neighborhood issues; responsive to constituents; protective of citizen input; supports the Welcoming City resolution …

Ward 9 – Jim Donelan

Springfield ICON endorses Robert Patino for Ward 10 City Council for Springfield, IL.

Ward 10: Robert Patino

… well-educated on issues, with a wide range of experience; willing to reach out and listen to constituents; creative economic development ideas; supports reasonable development …

Ward 10 – Robert Patino

City Officers

Springfield ICON endorses Jim Langfelder for Mayor for Springfield, IL.

Mayor: Jim Langfelder

… for his support for a new comprehensive plan for land use, which, if followed, would deliver the compact, contiguous smart growth that is essential to creating a stronger, healthier city …

Mayor – Jim Langfelder

Springfield ICON endorses Rianne Hawkins for City Clerk for Springfield, IL.

City Clerk: Rianne Hawkins

… past experience in the City Clerk’s office; dedicated to transparency, better FOIA process, and technical improvements in providing information to constituents; history of ICON participation …

City Clerk – Rianne Hawkins

Springfield ICON endorses Misty Buscher for Treasurer for Springfield, IL.

Treasurer: Misty Buscher

… strong banking background; a proven record of technical and fiscal improvements and transparency in the Treasurer’s office …

Treasurer – Misty Buscher

Municipal Election News

Springfield Daily covered ICON’s Endorsements Live!

Springfield DailyICON announces 2019 endorsements

By Thomas Clatterbuck
Published March 19, 2019

Springfield ICON has announced their endorsements for the upcoming municipal election. ICON (Inner City Older Neighborhoods) based their decision on both written responses to their questionnaire, as well as their candidate forums held last month.

Identifying the issues facing Springfield and having plans to address them were key for endorsements. But ICON Chair Carol Kneedler said that having a positive outlook on these issues was important as well. Springfield does have its problems; but overemphasizing them is a problem in its own right.

Illinois TimesICON endorses in city races

Read more at…

State Journal-RegisterSpringfield ICON endorses Langfelder, other candidates

By Brenden Moore, Staff Writer
Posted Mar 18, 2019

Springfield ICON, a group that advocates for the city’s older neighborhoods, endorsed a mix of incumbents and newcomers on Monday for city offices in the April 2 election….

“Some candidates have promoted a negative view of Springfield and it would be easy to fall into despair over budget constraints, bureaucracy, lack of enforcement for dilapidated properties, lack of comprehensive garbage service and the very real cost of sprawl,” said ICON chairwoman Carol Kneedler. “But one great thing about civic participation and community engagement is that you get to know that there are really good people working hard to make the best decisions possible, to do the right thing, to serve all the citizens of Springfield.”

The group said two major issues they hope city leaders tackle in the new term are reforming the city’s garbage collection system and addressing the preponderance of problem properties….

In the case of Langfelder, Kneedler lauded the mayor for being “instrumental” in starting the process that led to Springfield’s 2017-2037 Comprehensive Plan….

Kneedler said, however, that Langfelder could focus more more on development in the older neighborhoods and that ICON supports the hiring of a city planner, a position Langfelder does not support.

Read the full article at…

ICON’s Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forums in the News!

Springfield IL Municipal Candidates for Election April 2, 2019

Springfield IL Aldermanic Candidate Forums Feb 6 and Feb 7, 2019

On March 18, 2019, Springfield ICON PAC endorsed the candidates for Springfield, Illinois Municipal public office for the 2019 Consolidated General Election on April 2, 2019.

On March 18, 2019, Springfield ICON PAC endorsed the candidates for Springfield, Illinois Municipal public office for the 2019 Consolidated General Election on April 2, 2019.

Springfield Vacant Lots for Sale by City – deadline 3pm on 2/21/2019!

Download the RFP as a pdf with all properties and conditions…

Over the past 5 years, the City of Springfield has been aggressively targeting blight and deterioration in the City’s older neighborhoods through demolition of vacant buildings with
significant code violations. To date, the City has demolished nearly 430 buildings. The City has developed a Land Disposition Program to facilitate the recycling of these properties.

The goals of this program are to:

  • Encourage the development and reuse of vacant properties consistent with the City of Springfield’s Comprehensive Plan, and other City-approved and accepted plans
  • Support City goals of neighborhood revitalization and economic opportunity
  • Empower residents to invest in their neighborhoods
  • Return vacant lots and structures to productive use
  • Encourage timely, equitable and transparent transactions and development
  • Strengthen the City’s tax base

If you are a home or business owner that lives next to a vacant lot that shares a common boundary with your property, you may qualify to be a Side Lot Applicant. Eligible Side Lot
Applicants can purchase up to 3 adjacent lots and do not have to sign a redevelopment agreement. Side Lot Applicants must meet all other criteria of the program. If no eligible Side Lot Applicant applies, all other applications will be considered and will be awarded based on a combination of price and proposed land use.

Preference will be given as follows:

  • Adjacent property owner (physically contiguous to an adjacent purchaser’s property, with no less than a 50% common boundary)
  • Property owner on the street or block
  • Neighborhood Association or other organization that is actively involved in the neighborhood
  • Other nonprofit organization
  • All others

Please note there is a minimum bid of $500.00 per parcel required (minimum bid, is the minimum bid required for purchase. Applicants can choose to bid higher for property if desired, price is not the only factor in bidding, but will be considered.)


Each parcel is a vacant lot and will be sold “as is”. The common address, legal description, parcel identification number, and present zoning classification for the development of each of the parcels is included in Attachment A – RFP Property List.

The purchaser of any parcel will be responsible for maintenance of it, including grass cutting and weeding, and keeping it free of trash and other debris. The parties submitting successful proposals will be required to enter into an agreement for the sale of real property. Separate proposals must be submitted for each of the described parcels, except were contiguous parcels, in which case offers for up to 3 contiguous parcels may be made as one proposal.

Interested parties are not required to submit a proposal for all of the described parcels.


Price will not be the only factor determining the successful bidder on any parcel.
Location/Affiliation of bidder will be determined based on adjacent property owner, property owner the street or block, neighborhood association or other. Price must meet minimum bid requirement and can be a determining factor if more than one bid is received for the same property. The proposed use of the land shall be one that enhances the neighborhood in a positive manner.

The proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Location/Affiliation of Bidder 50 (points or %)
    Price 25 (points or %)
    Use of Land 25 (points or %)

If multiple proposals are submitted for the same property and evaluated scores are equal, preference will be given to the adjacent property owner with the longest tenure.
The City reserves the right to accept the proposal that is most advantageous for it. Each respondent must include a detailed description of their intended use of each parcel they wish to purchase. A committee of City staff will review all applications and a contract may be awarded at any time after the initial submission period. The City reserve the right to deny any proposal that is incomplete, does not meet specifications, or does not support the goals of the program.


Payment must be made by Certified Check, Official Check, Bank Draft, or Cash. Personal checks or personal money orders are not acceptable.

RFP CS19-29 Sale of Real Property 2019

All debt owed to the City must be paid prior to payment and release of deed.
If the City determines you owe a debt we will send notice to pay or dispute the debt. If you have a common name the City may contact you for additional identifying information including but not limited to your social security number, state identification and/or date of birth.


Applications must be submitted to the Office of the Purchasing Agent, Municipal Center West, 300 S 7 th St, Room 210, Springfield IL 62701 by 3:00 p.m. Central Time on Thursday February 21, 2019. Beginning June 1, 2019, the request for proposals for each of the attached properties not sold during the initial proposal period will remain open until February
28, 2021.

Proposals/Applications submitted during this time will be non-competitive, in that a contract may be awarded at any time by the City to the party whose proposal is found to be in the best interest of the City of Springfield. The City reserves the right to deny any and all proposals and applications and waive any informalities or irregularities in the proposals. The City further reserves the right to review and study any and all proposals and to make a contract award at any time prior to February 28, 2021 on the properties included herein.

ICON’s Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forums in the News!

Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forum – Wards 1-5

Wednesday, February 6, 6pm

More than 90 people attended our first Aldermanic Candidate Forum!

News Channel 20 – Dozens get to know aldermen candidates at public forum

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Dozens came out Wednesday to get to know candidates for the alderman race.

Candidates for Wards 1 through 5 were at the South Side Christian Church for a forum.

“With the audience tonight, we definitely want them to get to know the candidates, but also educate the community about older neighborhood issues so that they have a better understanding about what is going on,” Chair of Springfield ICON Carol Kneedler said.

Read the full article and see the video at…

State Journal-Register – Some aldermanic candidates reject dissolution of Capital Township

By Crystal Thomas, Staff Writer
Posted Feb 6, 2019

Capital Township should remain the same and not merge with the city or the county, according to most of the candidates running for Wards 1 through 5 who attended a forum held by Springfield Inner City Older Neighborhood on Wednesday night.

The forum, in which aldermanic candidates answered questions about their priorities and city issues, was the first of two held by the politically active organization that represents residents of older neighborhoods.

The 11 candidates who attended described their stances on topics ranging from biking and waste management to racial segregation in Springfield. About 80 people attended the forum, held at South Side Christian Church’s auditorium.

See the full article at…

Springfield Daily – Live Stream of the Ward #1-5 Aldermanic Forum

Posted by Springfield Daily

Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forum – Wards 4, 6-10

Thursday, February 7, 6pm

State Journal-Register – ‘Welcoming Cities’ resolution divides Springfield Council candidates

By Crystal Thomas, Staff Writer
Posted Feb 7, 2019

Some aldermanic candidates expressed support for a city resolution that would welcome immigrants, while other stayed silent during a forum held Thursday night.

The forum, which was hosted by the Inner City Old Neighborhoods at South Side Christian Church, featured candidates from Wards 6 through 10, as well as one candidate from Ward 4. A forum for candidates running for Wards 1 through 5 was held Wednesday night.

The forums covered issues ranging from waste management to how aldermanic candidates would handle the city’s utility, City Water, Light and Power.

Candidates were able to choose whether they would answer the question about a “Welcoming Cities” resolution, which a majority of aldermen voted to stall in committee, effectively killing the legislation, in October 2017.

See the full article at…

News Channel 20 – Springfield locals meet one-on-one with aldermen candidates

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Springfield locals are getting to know those running for Springfield City Council.

Candidates for Wards 6 through 10 were at South Side Christian Church for a forum Thursday night.

Each candidate educated the public on their position on different local topics.

Read the full article and see the video at…

Illinois Times – Sewers, sidewalks and leaves: Ward 6 race focuses on public works issues

By Lindsey Salvatelli
Posted Feb 14, 2019

(Ward 6 Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso and Ward 6 candidate Elizabeth Jones spoke to constituents at an ICON forum on February 7)

Both candidates have their own ideas about how the city and ward could be improved, although they agree that infrastructure is a key issue.

DiCenso said she strove to make improvements to her ward during the past two years, even though the concerns of her constituents are just as diverse as the section of town she represents.

“I have definitely gone to bat for Ward 6 infrastructure improvements. That includes alleys, overlays, accessible sidewalks, brick road repairs – which Ward 6 has the most of – and new sewers,” DiCenso said. She said she wants to continue to promote economic development throughout the city, because what happens in other wards has a direct impact on Ward 6.

Like DiCenso, Jones sees infrastructure as a major issue for Ward 6 and wants to address some of the concerns she said Ward 6 residents have about sewage and water lines made of lead that contaminate drinking water.

Jones said she plans to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to address the water contamination, even if she isn’t elected, and wants to apply for federal grants that have been used to correct similar issues in Madison, Wisconsin, to help offset some of the costs.

“Infrastructure updates, as we all know, are very expensive,” Jones said. “Even though they are, the city council needs to find ways to resolve these issues.”

Read the full article at…

Springfield Daily – Live Stream of the Ward #6-10 Aldermanic Forum

Posted by Springfield Daily


Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forums – Wards 1-5 on Wednesday, February 6, and Wards 4, 6-10 on Thursday, February 7.

Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forums – Wards 1-5 on Wednesday, February 6, and Wards 4, 6-10 on Thursday, February 7.

Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forum – Wards 6-10 – Thursday, February 7, 6pm

The 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forums for Springfield, IL will take place over two evenings at South Side Christian Church (2600 S MacArthur Blvd, Springfield, IL 62704):

1. Wednesday, February 6th, 6:00-9:00pm…

2. Thursday, February 7th, 6:00-9:00pm

Half of the Wards (and their candidates) will have their forum on Wednesday, and the other half of the Wards will have their forum on Thursday evening.

For Thursday’s Forum, there will be Aldermanic Candidates from Wards 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Learn more about the 2019 Aldermanic Forum here…

Check back later for more information, including a listing of which candidates will be attending the forum.

Sponsored by Springfield ICON and MacArthur Boulevard Association

Election 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forum – Wards 1-5 – Wednesday, February 6, 6pm

The 2019 Aldermanic Candidate Forums for Springfield, IL will take place over two evenings at South Side Christian Church (2600 S MacArthur Blvd, Springfield, IL 62704):

1. Wednesday, February 6th, 6:00-9:00pm

2. Thursday, February 7th, 6:00-9:00pm…

Half of the Wards (and their candidates) will have their forum on Wednesday, and the other half of the Wards will have their forum on Thursday evening.

For Wednesday’s Forum, there will be Aldermanic Candidates from Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Learn more about the 2019 Aldermanic Forum here…

Check back later for more information, including a listing of which candidates will be attending the forum.

Sponsored by Springfield ICON and MacArthur Boulevard Association

Small-scale development workshop with Bernice Radle – Friday November 16

Springfield ICON will host a discussion about small-scale development in Springfield’s older neighborhoods on Friday November 16 from 8:30-11:30am.

Participating in the workshop will be Bernice Radle, the founder and CEO of Buffalove Development and Little Wheel Hustle, companies in Buffalo, NY that work to bring vacant spaces back to life. Her projects have been featured in TedxBuffalo, in the NYTimes, and on American Rehab Buffalo on HGTV / DIY Network, and her work has received awards for historic preservation.  Bernice is the keynote speaker at ICON’s Annual Party Fundraiser on Thursday evening, and on Friday morning she will present more in-depth information about her work and answer questions.

Bernice will also participate on a panel with local people involved in development in Springfield’s neighborhoods to talk about their experiences.

One of our goals for the workshop is to foster partnerships between businesses that could collaborate to create economic development by rehabbing older properties or developing vacant lots in Springfield, thereby increasing property values throughout the city.  If you know of anyone doing work in older neighborhoods – we’d love to have a good turnout and lively discussion on Friday morning – please feel free to forward a link to this post.

There is no cost to attend, but we request you RSVP to or 217-528-9803.

Location & Parking

The workshop will be at the Illinois Association of Realtors, 522 S 5th St, Springfield, IL 62701. Please plan to park offsite since the event will be during business hours.  There is street parking in front of our building, or we suggest the parking ramp at 6th and Capitol, which is just a few short blocks away.

Thanks to our Sponsors

The Springfield Business Journal… and the Illinois Times…

Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association & Enos Park Development…

John Shafer & Associates…

Illinois Association of Realtors…

ICON Annual Party Fundraiser & Annual Meeting – November 15, 2018 at the Inn at 835

Keynote Speaker | Sponsors | Good Neighbor Awards | Pictures

The ICON Annual Party Fundraiser (and Annual Meeting) was held on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at the Inn at 835 Conservatory (835 South 2nd Street).

Download the flyer…

The ICON Annual Meeting and Holiday Party Fundraiser will be held on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at the Inn at 835 Conservatory (835 South 2nd Street).

Keynote Speaker – Bernice Radle

Preserving neighborhoods through small scale development

About Bernice Radle

Bernice Radle is the owner of Buffalove Development, Regional Director for City Dining Cards, host on American Rehab Buffalo (DIY Network & HGTV), one of five members on the City of Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals and a VIP with the Buffalo’s Young Preservationists. A self-described urban planner, preservationist and building science nerd, she loves cities, public spaces, cats, music, historic preservation and Buffalo!

Founded in 2012 by Bernice Radle, Buffalove Development is a small scale real estate development company focused on rehabilitating vacant and underutilized historic buildings in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY. Little Wheel Restoration Company LLC is a preservation focused construction company in Buffalo, NY.

See Bernice Radle’s Talk at TEDxBuffalo…

Bernice Radle’s ICON Presentation

Download the PDF of Bernice’s presentation…

More information can be found at

ICON Good Neighbor Awards!

ICON Good Neighbor AwardsThe Good Neighbor awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses who make an objective, measurable positive impact on the quality of life for Springfield residents in inner city older neighborhoods.
Winners were recognized at the Annual Party & Meeting on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

Learn more about the Good Neighbor Awards…

Pictures from the Party!

Thanks to our photographer April Smith.

Thank you to Our Sponsors!

Walkable cities are good for the economy

This post is summarized from “Why walkable cities are good for the economy, according to a city planner”:

A city’s walkability is determined by analyzing how many errands can be done without a car, and cities with the highest scores (like Boston, New York, and San Francisco) often come with an incredibly steep cost of living. On Walk Score’s one to 100 scale that evaluates cities with a population of 200,000 or more, New York City is the most walkable city in the country with a score of 89, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, is the least walkable with a score of 29. The average walk score of all American cities with a population of over 200,000 is 49.  [Springfield IL walk score is 34…]
Learn more about how walkability is scored and see how your neighborhood ranks…

A city’s walkability is dynamic and can be improved with people-oriented city planning, which will benefit the local economy and make societies more equitable.

American city planner Jeff Speck has been advocating for walkability for the past 25 years, and in his new book, Walkability City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places, he carefully outlines how to “sell” walkability and then implement it.

Benefits of walkability

  • Economics – Cities with high walk scores also have high property values. According to a 2009 study, each additional walk score point resulted in home values increasing between $500 and $3,000.
  • Attractive to residents / workers – Walkability attracts diverse populations and creates jobs. According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, 63 percent of millennials and 42 percent of boomers would like to live in a place where they don’t need a car. And according to the National Association of Realtors, 62 percent of millennials prefer to live in a walkable community where a car is optional. If cities seem less automobile-dependent, chances are they are more appealing to a range of ages.
  • Inexpensive – Walking also costs the city very little, unlike cars and even public transit. According to Speck’s book, if a resident takes a bus ride, it may cost them $1 but costs the city $1.50 in bus operation. If a resident decides to drive, it costs the city $9.20 in services like policing and ambulances. When a resident walks, the cost to the city is a penny.
  • Increased consumer spending – A 2008 report of San Francisco’s downtown found that public transit users and walkers spent less on each trip downtown but made more frequent trips, which meant they spent more money overall.
  • More equitable – Walkability can actually work to make communities more equitable. According to his book, cities with more transit choice demonstrate less income inequality and less overspending on rent. Walkability opens up the world to the elderly, who often struggle to find transportation when they lose the ability to drive, and public transit is used most by minorities and those making under $50,000. Since transit and walking go hand in hand, improving the walkability of a city could help better serve those in lower income brackets.

Why our cities aren’t more walkable

One of the biggest reasons many cities aren’t walkable is because land is dissected into “uses,” something called “single-use zoning”: Retail cannot be next to a medical office cannot be next a single-family home cannot be next to a multi-family home. So in order for a person to get lunch, go to the doctor, and then buy a birthday present, they have to travel to three different “zones,” and can only do so efficiently by car.

This may have been helpful in the 19th century when homes needed to be far away from factories emitting toxic fumes, but today it makes less sense.

Some walkability solutions

  • Adopt regulations that allow land to be multi-use, such as in the mixed-use developments that dot the sprawling landscape of many American suburbs and cities.
  • Push for local parks and schools, both of which foster community and ownership of a neighborhood.
  • Invest in attainable housing downtown so they don’t get overrun with the wealthy.
  • Reallocate road space to accommodate bikes or creating street parking so people can drive to a city, park, and then walk around and enjoy. “Restriping a too-fast street to include a bike lane, or turning a row of parallel parking spaces into angled parking, these things can be done for the price of paint.

Read the full article at

ICON Monthly Meeting October 29, 2018

We will meet on Monday, October 29, 2018 at 6:30pm at First Church of the Brethren.

ICON Business

  • Minutes from last month’s meeting (will be approved by consent unless there are changes).


  •  Adena Rivas will speak about City of Springfield Waste & Recycling programs for Public Works: branch, yard waste, household hazardous waste, large item pickup.

Community & Neighborhood News


October 9 – 2nd Annual Appetite on the Avenue!

Join The Avenue North Grand Improvement Association for the 2nd Annual Appetite on the Avenue, a food truck event sponsored by The Avenue North Grand Improvement Association.

This Appetite on the Avenue will be at the Shop ‘n Save Parking Lot (200 N Grand Ave E, Springfield, IL 62702) on Tuesday, October 9th from 4:30 to 8:00pm.

For more information, contact either Sam Cahnman @ 217-528-0200 or Jim Kent @ 217-502-9682.

Download the flyer… (PDF)

Food Trucks that will be at Appetite on the Avenue

Appetite on the Avenue Sponsors

Thanks to City Council and the Mayor for Denying Zoning Changes at Previous Bally Vaughn Apartments

Springfield ICON lauds the City Council and the Mayor for rejecting the zoning petition for the previous Bally Vaughn Apartments property. We sincerely appreciate their support of neighboring property owners. Their vote protects property values and quality of life for those residents and the school children who walk through this neighborhood to 4 neighborhood schools. The petition failed to gain the 6 votes needed to pass. Aldermen voting with neighborhood property owners include Ward 5 Andrew Proctor, Ward 6 Kristin DiCenso, Ward 7 Joe McMenamin, Ward 10 Ralph Hanauer and the Mayor. Ward 1 Chuck Redpath, Ward 2 Herman Senor, Ward 3 Doris Turner, Ward 4 John Fulgenzi, Ward 8 Kris Theilen (in whose ward the property lies) voted to approve the variances. Ward 9 Jim Donelan voted present, which does not count as a yes or no.

Springfield ICON wrote a letter to the Springfield Building & Zoning Commission opposing Zoning petition 2018-046, a request for changes to two properties, 1302 W. Washington St. and 1409 W. Washington St. for zoning reclassification from R-2 to R-3; a Conditional Permitted Use for a parking lot on a property separate from the property served; (7) variances and a possible extension of a previously expired non-conforming use.  The Building & Zoning Commission, which is not elected but appointed by the Mayor, reversed their previous vote and voted to allow the development to proceed. This even though they disapproved the previous plan citing concerns over the density of the project, which is nearly double what would be allowed if the project were being built new.

Avoiding Spot Zoning by variances, conditional permitted uses, and grandfathering

This highlights the usefulness of Springfield, IL zoning ordinance Section 155.157, Discontinuance of a non-conforming use  This ordinance expires previously-granted non-conforming uses after 6 months of vacancy and protects neighboring property owners from continuing uses that are not in sync with the area. It makes sense to return property use to be compatible with surrounding properties, and this case is the poster child for keeping this ordinance. The Washington Street property has been vacant for more than 3 years, not just 6 months, and in the intervening time has deteriorated even further than when it was first shut down.

This critical “down-zoning” policy was recommended by the Historic Westside Neighborhood Association and adopted by the Springfield City Council to combat spot-zoning by variances and conditional permitted uses that were “grandfathered” when the current standards were adopted in the mid-1960’s. It is an important policy that can preserve and protect the residential character of inner-city neighborhoods. The Shamrock Bar, just across the street from Grant Middle School, is just one a case-in-point about how (inappropriately) “grandfathering” worked at the time. There are other older commercial sites and apartments that may come into play in the future.

We ask that all members of the City Council remember the history and impact of spot-zoning and how it negatively impacts all types of neighborhoods, including some of the older subdivisions beyond the inner-city.

2018 Springfield Preservation Awards, Wednesday, September 19 at the Illinois Realtors Building

2018 Springfield Preservation Awards

To benefit the CFLL Historic Preservation Fund
at the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln

Wednesday, September 19
5pm Cocktails and Hors D’Oeuvres
6pm Awards Ceremony

522 S Fifth St
Springfield, IL

Event is free. Guests are asked to make a donation to the CFLL Historic Preservation Fund.

RSVP by September 14 to 217-726-6600 Ext 139 

Guided tours of the Governor’s Mansion will be available, but must be arranged in advance. Email  to be included on the tour.

The reception is to benefit the Historic Preservation Fund at the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, which will announce the recipient of the group’s 2018 grant.



Award Winners


Private Effort for the Preservation of an Historic Structure

Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association
410 E Jackson Street

Private Effort for the Preservation of an Historic Structure for Residential Use

In His Hands Orphans Outreach
804 N 7th St

Private Effort for the Preservation of an Historic Structure or Structures for Multi-family use

Seth and Ivy Molen, Brick City, LLC
Multiple projects

Preservation Effort by a Not-for-Profit Organization

Springfield Art Association
Edwards Place, 700 N 4th St

Preservation Effort Involving a Public Facility

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation

Preservationist of the Year

To Be Announced



Special thanks to the Springfield Historic Sites Commission for serving as this year’s awards jury.

Presented by

  • Springfield Business Journal
  • Illinois REALTORS

Download the Invite… (PDF)

Icon Ash Street Cleanup Nov 4, 2017 - thanks to everyone who participated!

ICON Litter Pickup June 30 – Ninth Street: North Grand to Sangamon Avenue

Members of the Coalition of Inner City Older Neighborhoods (ICON) are sponsoring a litter pick up on Ninth Street from North Grand to Sangamon Avenue and seeking individuals to help.

Those wishing to volunteer will meet on Saturday, June 30 at 8am in the parking lot of Noonan’s True Value at 801 North Grand Ave East, Springfield, IL 62702.

ICON members will be providing doughnuts, pick up tools and garbage bags. Volunteers should being their own work gloves.

Ward 6 Clean Up Day!

Ward 6 clean up on April 14 – a great day! Ward 6 Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso and her son, NPO Officer Mike Badger, and at least 50 residents throughout Ward 6 turned out and worked hard to pick up litter in their neighborhoods.

Kristin had donuts, coffee, bags, and gloves for everyone.

Harvard Park Neighborhood Watch served lunch at HP Baptist Church, and on Monday, Public Works picked up bags and stuff to complete a productive weekend!

Pride in the Ward! Pride in the neighborhoods!!!

Ward 6 clean up on April 14 – a great day! Ward 6 Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso and her son, NPO Officer Mike Badger, and at least 50 residents throughout Ward 6 turned out and worked hard to pick up litter in their neighborhoods.

ICON Annual Meeting & Holiday Party Fundraiser – December 13, 2017

Speaker Presentation | Awards | Sponsors | Photos

The ICON Annual Meeting and Holiday Party Fundraiser was held on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at the Inn at 835 Conservatory at 835 South 2nd Street.

Guest Speaker

Our speaker was Vasudha Pinnamaraju, Executive Director at the McLean County Regional Planning Commission. Vasu spoke about quantifying cost vs. return for specific economic development projects and the impact on municipal finances.

Click here to download a PDF of her presentation… (PDF – 4 MB)


Congratulations to our Good Neighbor Award Winners!

  • Business: Linda Renehan, Springfield Vintage
  • Individual: Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin
  • Community Organization: Habitat for Humanity, Colleen Stone
  • Public Service: Darryl Harris, Division Manager; Michael Carr, Suzanne Duncan, Michael Gant, Barb Jones, Matt Morrell, Tiffani Selinger, Paula Zink

Good Neighbor Details, including photos…


Huge thanks to our 2017 Holiday Party sponsors for supporting Springfield neighborhoods!

Please visit and thank our sponsors!

2017 Meeting & Party Photos

ICON Ash Street Cleanup November 4, 2017 – keeping neighborhoods clean and healthy

Springfield ICON worked together to clean up Ash Street from 11th St to 18th St. on Saturday, November 4, 2017.

Those were some formidable folks:  They ignored the mist at 7:30-8am and said, “Let’s start (thanks, Megan!).  The mist subsided and 7 of us went from 11 St to 18th St. along Ash St.

Bill, Megan, Geoff, Chris, Mindy, Curt, and Polly worked for 2 hours.  Three different neighborhoods were represented–Lincoln Park, Iles Park, Harvard Park.  Harvard Park’s Jamie Adaire would have participated, but had a family funeral that morning.

Thanks for the donuts, Bill!

ICON is making a difference in our neighborhoods!

ICON Meeting October 30, 2017 – Springfield Comprehensive Plan

We will meet on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 6:30pm at First Church of the Brethern.

October minutes DRAFT…


  • ICON Business
    • August minutes for consent…
    • Problem Properties update
    • City Council update
  • City of Springfield Comprehensive Plan
    Overview of the plan and why you should care
    Download the DRAFT plan as of 10/10/2017…
    (PDF, 94mb, prints full-size as 11″x17″)
    Download the DRAFT appendices as of 10/10/2017…
    (PDF, 21mb, prints full-size as 11″x17″)
    More information on the City of Springfield website…Speakers
    Bonnie Drew, Deputy Mayor of Springfield
    Molly Berns, Assistant Director, Springfield and Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission
    Carol Kneedler, Comprehensive Plan Committee Member
  • Regional Neighborhood Network Conference
    Brief overview by Carol Kneedler
  • Annual Meeting & Holiday Party
    • Wednesday December 13, 5pm, Inn at 835 Conservatory
    • Update and nominees for Good Neighbor Awards (to be announced in November)
    • Tickets $35 for sale – online ticket sales coming soon!
    • Sponsorships available – download the 2017 sponsor flyer…
  • Community & Neighborhood News

ICON 11th Street Cleanup October 21, 2017 – keeping neighborhoods clean and healthy

Springfield ICON worked together to clean up 11th Street from South Grand to Stanford on Saturday, October 21. Just picking up trash on the parkways, we collected 8 55-gallon bags of trash from the street side!

Participating were Ward 6 Alderman Kristin DiCenso and her son, Lincoln Park President Bill Baskett, Bunn Park President Jamie Adair, Historic West Side Secretary & The Avenue Treasurer Sharon Riffey, Historic West Side &  ICON Treasurer Darrell Riffey, Harvard Park President Polly Poskin, and Iles Park Secretary Carol Kneedler.

Stay tuned for ICON’s next cleanup of Springfield’s major thoroughfares!

ICON Supports Springfield Welcoming City Designation

The ICON Steering Committee supports the designation of Springfield as a Welcoming City.

Cities that grow and prosper do so by creating an environment that welcomes law-abiding residents, no matter their national origin, religion or immigration status.

Let’s make Springfield a community that is compassionate, immigrant friendly and welcoming!

Welcoming City Resolution support letter to City Council from ICON 20170928

Problem Properties: Groups want better tracking of violators


View ICON’s problem property map…

Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association President Arlene Flury and Enos Park President Michelle Ownbey are quoted in the SJR about problem properties in their neighborhoods.

The problems aren’t limited to 3 neighborhoods. ICON members hail from 17 neighborhoods, and aldermen report problem properties in all wards of Springfield.


Excerpt from the SJ-R 5/30/2017…

Neighborhoods want better crackdowns on trashy, weedy properties

by Mary Hanson

Arlene Flury has made numerous complaints over the years to the city of Springfield about nuisances in her Vinegar Hill neighborhood, most recently about discarded railroad ties in a neighbor’s yard.  Problems with dilapidated porches, discarded furniture and overgrown lawns have persisted, she said, and at times it’s been difficult to get a response from the city. “We just hope that we could get the city to be a little more speedy or take care of the problems,” Flury said.

Officials say the city’s five inspectors have been more proactive recently in looking for other violations when checking out a complaint. And new measures have gone into effect aimed at cracking down on properties that are cited again and again for overgrown weeds or piles of garbage in yards or on porches.

But Flury and members of three other neighborhood groups want to make sure those rules are being enforced. They want to track citations and violations issued to properties that continue to be problems in their neighborhoods.

“The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of homes,” said Coalition of Inner City Older Neighborhood president Carol Kneedler. “So people aren’t living next to homes that are dilapidated.”

The public works department has promised to begin sending monthly reports about progress through the system of citations, cleanup and fines on houses that neighborhood groups have reported, according to director Mark Mahoney.  “A lot of times, complaints are turned in, and people aren’t sure what happened,” Mahoney said. “There is a process, and that can be frustrating sometimes.”

Educating residents about options to get their yards cleaned up and giving them a chance to avoid a fine is important, Harris said. And most people, once they understand the rules, will follow them, he said.

Kneedler agreed and said it’s a smaller percentage of repeat offenders her neighborhood group is concerned about. Continuing to keep an eye on frequent problem properties could help.

In Enos Park, residents have seen some progress on addressing houses that aren’t maintained, according to Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association president Michelle Ownbey. The group is very proactive in reporting problems to the city and has even taken legal action against some property owners that have frequent police calls. The group buys up dilapidated or foreclosed-upon properties with the goal of rehabbing them as part of its land-banking efforts. “Part of it is we have a reputation now for being serious,” Ownbey said. But legal action can be costly and not an option for other neighborhood groups.

Improving communication with city officials about problems and tracking properties could lead to identifying new solutions, such as rental registration, Kneedler said. The goal is still the same. “My neighborhood is full of charming bungalows, with porches and rocking chairs,” Kneedler said. “When I walk my neighborhood, it’s such a pleasant experience and I want others to have that, too.”

Read the story at…

ICON supports ordinance to include storage areas & multi-family in Large Scale Development

In May, Mayor Langfelder, Alderman Joe McMenamin, Springfield ICON and several neighborhoods spoke against changes to the definition of Large Scale Development. Our goal was to limit urban sprawl, to support city planning, and to avoid having your city taxes spread over an even-larger area.  Nevertheless, Springfield Aldermen voted 9-1 for a huge increase in the definition of the size of Large Scale Developments, in several cases, after having expressed concern themselves over the consequences.

As a result, many new developments that would have had public input and City Council review under the Large Scale Development process will now have NO public input before being approved.

See links at the bottom of this post for more information.

We had hoped the Mayor would veto the change, requiring a super-majority vote to override, but he did not. Instead, he has proposed an amendment that would require smaller-than-12-acre projects for storage areas and multi-family developments to participate in the Large Scale Development process. The Mayor proposed this because, in his experience, these are two of the types of development most concerning neighborhoods.

On Tuesday, June 20, the Springfield City Council will debate the Mayor’s amendment ordinance 2017-300.

ICON supports this ordinance because it is a step toward planning and oversight of new developments that affect neighborhoods:

  • The change in the definition of Large Scale Developments to 12 acres eliminated the opportunity for public and neighborhood input on changes that could negatively affect our quality of life and property values.
  • It encourages sprawl and obligates the City to maintain infrastructure and provide City services without public input or City Council oversight, increasing taxpayer costs at a time of limited tax revenues and cost-cutting.
  • The change encourages development in areas not served by District 186 schools. Development within the boundaries of District 186 schools would support funding our city public schools.
  • Other cities in central IL are evaluating the long-term costs of building out and deciding to limit sprawl as a long-term cost-saving strategy.
  • Our Central Illinois peer cities: Quincy, Peoria, Decatur, Bloomington, Normal, Champaign, and Urbana have planning departments that either incorporate or pair the department with zoning and plan review and cover the same content as the Land Subdivision and Large Scale Development does here in Springfield.The change in the definition of Large Scale Developments to 12 acres eliminates the only effective planning process we currently have.

Read further: Large Scale Development

Council denies public input to all development projects under 12 acres

On Tuesday, May 16, the Springfield City Council voted to radically alter the definition of Large Scale Development to only include projects over 12 acres in size (previously the definition was any project over 1/2 acres involving 2 or more buildings, and any project over 5 acres regardless of how many buildings.)

The council vote effectively shuts out ALL public input to ALL projects up to 12 acres that do not require a zoning change – projects that could negatively impact quality of life and property values for nearby residents.

Ward 1 Alderman Chuck Redpath led the extreme change to the Large Scale Development trigger from 5 to 12 acres. The change was unknown to the public prior to the Committee of the Whole meeting on May 9. It was delivered towards the end of a lengthy 3 hour meeting with over 40 ordinances covering many significant issues. Redpath’s amendment reversing more that 40 years of “Large Scale” practice was made without hearing from any subject matter experts and without hearing from neighborhood associations – the only voices at the table were developers. At final passage barely 1 week later on May 16, 4 amendments were debated – of which the public had no prior knowledge.

Aldermen brushed aside concerns that new projects between 1/2 acre and 12 acres would no longer have city streets financially upgraded at the developer’s expense.  This potentially has the impact of making the City pay for street upgrades currently funded by developers.   This is because the so-called “Developer’s Agreement”, the Adjacent Substandard Roadway Agreement, is tied to the definition of Large Scale Development and requires developers to pay to upgrade substandard streets that are impacted by additional traffic caused by their developments and/or to provide letters of credit for future changes required by their development.

Aldermen initially approved an amendment proposed by the Mayor that would have considered multi-family dwellings and storage facilities as Large Scale Development, but Redpath also successfully proposed re-voting to remove even that limited requirement.

Do it Right?

Even though the Mayor and four aldermen expressed concern about the impact and the speed of the change, alderman were unwilling to consider the Mayor’s request to slow down and “do it right”. We thank Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin for his “no” vote on this issue.

The city is currently updating it’s Comprehensive Plan, which specifies the preferred development for various areas of the city and which informs Regional Planning when recommending approval or denial of zoning changes. Waiting for that to be finalized and using the results to inform a decision on development would have been a forward-thinking move.

The city planners we talked with about this change were opposed and offered observations / suggestions:

  1. While it is true nearby cities do not have this particular process in place, our Central Illinois peer cities cities DO have robust planning departments which review for the same content as the Land Subdivision and large scale development committee does here in Springfield. Eliminating this review would eliminate the only effective planning process we currently have.
  2. If there is a desire to streamline this process, then there is a series of recommendations from an already-convened Chamber of Commerce advisory sub-committee which could help guide those decisions. This group is comprised of architects, engineers, and developers who have in fact discussed this very issue and produced several recommendations to address this process. It seems that this group of professionals may be able to offer more objective opinions of the process and how it could be improved without being gutted. It would not be difficult for the aldermen to request those recommendations from the Chamber and review those for potential implementation.

Long Term Negative Consequences

The most important negative consequence is removal of public input to the process for all development projects up to 12 acres. Neighborhood and residents will be denied the ability to oppose changes that could negatively affect our quality of life and property values – with NO opportunity to raise concerns that have recently resulted in changes requested by neighbors under the Large Scale Development process. This opens the door to strip malls, apartment complexes, storage facilities, industrial uses, commercial uses (including those with a history of problems within the city) and even WalMart stores without the opportunity for neighbors to weigh in on the potentially negative impact to them.

History of neighbor objections to developer projects

Developer Corky Joiner repeatedly addressed the council Tuesday night promoting the change. Joyner’s Cobblestone Estates development has been the target of neighbors who requested changes to the development through the Large Scale Development process & the city council. Although the Cobblestone project involved a zoning change, there are multiple projects that won’t – and those would be approved without a word of public input.

In an article on May 14 in the SJ-R, Cobblestone Estates Homeowners Association member Roger Kanerva said he and some neighbors successfully lobbied against a proposal to build a Wal-Mart between Archer Elevator and Meadowbrook roads 10 years ago. More recently, the association fought construction of 12 three-story apartment buildings backed by Joiner at the same site. “We presented written objections and testimony all the way through the process, and (the council) gave Joyner what he wanted.” Still, it was important for residents to have a voice in the process. “We didn’t win, but we got come conditions put on to keep it from being totally ridiculous”, he said, citing concessions over parking requirements and the height of new buildings. Kanerva warns that by changing the rules for large-scale developments, it reduces the opportunity for residents to have their concerns heard, as he and his neighbors did, saying “The aldermen and the city need to be accountable to the people that have got to live with this stuff.”

Homeowners’ group challenges city zoning decision on west-side apartment complex… (7/27/2015)

West side homeowner group continues to fight against apartments (3/15/2015)

Letter to the Editor: Residents will fight west-side apartments (11/9/2012)

Excerpt: The residents are understandably upset with this change of plans for this area and the potential adverse impacts on property values and the neighborhood. The residents expressed their concerns to the city Planning and Zoning Commission and the city council in a responsible manner. One can expect the residents to continue their resistance to this unfortunate development proposal.

In ICON’s remarks to the council opposing this change, we stated our concern over the urban sprawl that indefinitely commits limited tax dollars to service an ever-expanding city footprint – funds that are spread thin for infrastructure (streets, water, sewer, electric), police & fire services, yard waste and limbs and snow removal. Other cities are actively working to limit the effects of sprawl – quantifying the long term cost of sprawl vs. expected tax revenue. Because public school District 186 has been allowed to become landlocked, large developments on the outskirts of town no longer benefit the local school district. Finally, large scale development on open ground on the periphery of the city fails to redevelop vacant property in the city core.

ICON is not against development, but we are against development that potentially harms our city and our neighborhoods. We believe there are better ways to support development other than eliminating public input.

Why the Change?

Local developers claim the Large Scale Development process, which brings all parties together to review plans at a public meeting before going before the city council for approval, takes too long.  Out of town developers have stated the process is efficient and is what is expected in implementing new developments. In this process, the public has 2 opportunities for input, even if the project requires NO zoning or technical changes. Current (not Large Scale Development) projects that are less than 1/2 acre (for 2 or more principle structures) OR less than 5 acres (for 1 structure) still need to meet all technical and zoning requirements, but do not need any public or aldermanic oversight before proceeding.

When ICON attends neighborhood development conferences, we hear stories about Illinois city councils that are doing creative things with city planning, public / private partnerships, funding, affordable / energy efficient residential development. By doing this, they are successfully wooing & attracting quality development to their cities – and the residents, workers and businesses who want to be in successful and forward-thinking cities and who support positive growth.

 From the WalMart article linked to above, “One lesson learned from Walmart’s urban debut is that cities that want good design are going to have to demand it.”



Springfield ICON: Oppose change to Large Scale Development planning

The Springfield ICON Steering Committee wants you to know you can do something TODAY to limit urban sprawl, to support city planning, and to avoid having your city taxes spread over an even-larger area, which reduces funds for existing neighborhoods for infrastructure, police, fire, leaf & branch pickup, and snow removal.

Tonight, on May 16, the Springfield City Council will debate an extreme increase in the size of “Large Scale Developments”. Large Scale Developments currently undergo an efficient planning process. That process includes a public meeting with every entity involved in approval of developments. Then the development goes to the City Council for approval. This allows the public and aldermen to have input into larger developments that may negatively affect neighborhoods & property values – and to speak against the urban sprawl that stretches an already-tight city budget across more area long into the future.

This change would allow much larger developments to avoid coordinated planning and oversight by aldermen and by the public. 
PLEASE call or email your alderman BEFORE the city council meeting on Tuesday May 16 to voice your opposition to this  change.
“I oppose increasing the size definition of Large Scale Developments.”

Find your alderman’s contact information…
Find out which ward you live in…
(12 mb .pdf – click + to zoom in and read streets)

Read the SJ-R article on this ordinance…

ICON Holiday Party and Annual Meeting Fundraiser 2016 – Monday, Dec 12

ICON Holiday Party and Annual Meeting Fundraiser 2016

Support Springfield’s Neighborhoods – Support Springfield ICON

You are invited!

Monday, December 12, 2016
5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Maldaner’s Restaurant

  • Buffet Dinner, soft drinks
  • Cash Bar

Tickets $30 per person available from an ICON Steering Committee member or online at
Due to limited seating capacity, tickets MAY NOT be available at the door.


  • Social Hour
  • Guest Speaker: Mercy Davison, City Planner, City of Normal, IL
  • Buffet Dinner
  • ICON Election, Third Annual Good Neighbor Awards

Minutes from the Annual Meeting…

Good Neighbor Awards

See previous winners…

Doris Turner, Ward 3 Alderman

First Church of the Brethern

Goodenow Insurance Agency, Inc.

Thanks to Our 2016 Sponsors!

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Alderman Joe McMenamin

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Ann Vandiver, Tupperware2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Sister Cities Association of Springfield Illinois

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Alderman Herman Senor

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - O3 Internet Consulting

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - The Avenue North Grand Improvement Association2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Alderman Jim Donelan

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Harvard Park Neighborhood Association

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Alderman Andrew Proctor

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Springfield City Treasurer Misty Buscher

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - MacArthur-Boulevard Association

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Iles Park Neighborhood Association

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - HyVee Springfield Illinois

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Kristin Dicenso for Ward 6 Alderman

2016 Holiday Party Sponsor - Historic Westside Neighborhood Association

ICON says goodbye to Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe

Members of Springfield ICON said goodbye to Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.


Carol Kneedler, ICON Chair, and member of the Iles Park Neighborhood Association thanked Cory for his work for neighborhood and and his willingness to take the lead for positive change for all our city, noting Cory’s efforts to attract new businesses to the MacArthur Boulevard area when he was President of that Neighborhood Association and for the newly  revitalized Iles Park Place.

Polly Poskin, President of Harvard Park Neighborhood Association, and Sharon Riffey, Secretary of the Historic Westside Neighborhood Association, also spoke, thanking Cory for his tireless and innovative work in bringing people together and proposing solutions.

ICON and residents of Ward 6 will miss his understanding of economic development and of the issues facing older neighborhoods.


Springfield Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sat, Nov 5, 8am-noon

Springfield residents only – must bring photo ID!
IL State Fairgrounds – enter Gate 11 from Sangamon Avenue.
Items will be removed at fair parking lot 21.
Cars will exit at Gate 7.

Plan to go early. Before you go, consider asking your nearby neighbors, especially elderly or disabled, if they have hazardous items you can also take with yours.


*** Acceptable Items ***
Aerosol paints and pesticides
Cleaning Products
Drain cleaners
Hobby chemicals
Household Batteries
Lawn chemicals
Oil-based paints
Old Gasoline
Old and outdated medications & pharmaceuticals
Pool Chemicals
Paint thinners
Used motor oil

*** Unacceptable Items ***
Agricultural chemicals
Business/commercial sector wastes
Controlled substances
Farm machinery oil
Fire extinguishers
Fluorescent light bulbs
Institutional Wastes
Lead Acid Batteries
Propane Tanks
Sharps, needles & potentially infectious medical wastes
Smoke detectors

Residents with questions about this event can contact the City of Springfield’s Office of Public Works at 217.789.2255 or email .

The recycling fee on your CWLP bill helps to pay for this service, for recycling electronics at BLH Computers, and also for branch pickups, yard waste pickups spring and fall, and small blue recycling bins.

Kudos to city of Champaign / Urbana for hosting 2016 RNNC

Kudos to the city of Champaign / Urbana for hosting and being involved with the Regional Neighborhood Network Conference 2016!

This conference, taking place on September 29 – October 1, 2016, is a three‐day event hosted by one of 24 Midwestern cities. It’s a place where community leaders,  volunteers, corporations, local government agencies, and businesses gather to exchange information with one another in order to gain valuable ideas to take back and help improve or transform their own communities. RNNC features a wide variety of workshops about state of the art approaches to neighborhood improvement, led by experts in urban and neighborhood development.  In addition to these informative workshops, RNNC is a great opportunity to network with peers and enjoy great food and entertainment!


RNNC History
RNNC was formed in 1986 when the City of Louisville invited several major Midwestern cities to gather in Louisville for an exchange of information and ideas about improving neighborhoods and communities.  During this first 2-day event, representatives from cities within a 400 mile radius of Louisville gathered to collaborate and share ideas. The concept of establishing a regional organization emerged from this first successful event. It was decided that the organization would have two objectives:

  • To provide a framework for government officials to collaborate on issues of importance to neighborhoods and others related to managing municipalities.
  • To encourage member cities to create an environment in which neighborhood leaders could interact and share information with each other about shared topics and issues of concern.

The result was the creation of the Regional Neighborhood Network  Conference – RNNC.

Network Structure
The Regional Neighborhood Network has existed for 30 years representing Midwestern cities of all sizes. There is a Regional Neighborhood Network Steering Committee that operates without bylaws, officers or membership dues. Participation is solely based on the commitment of member cities and come from a variety of governmental structures, philosophies, and political parties. Despite the diversity of the composition, the RNNC has endured through mayoral changes, liaison changes, and fluctuating levels of commitment and participation by the member cities. Though its initial membership started out with only seven cities, there are currently more than 20 member cities representing five states (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Tennessee).

Representatives of the member cities interact face‐to‐face at twice a year at Steering Committee meetings, and the resulting friendships have become long‐standing opportunities for resource sharing through RNNC and other events.  All conference collaborations are conducted in a non‐partisan manner. This interaction among the city representatives transcends party politics and is based simply on trust, respect, and the genuine friendships that have evolved.

Garbage reform passed July 5, 2016

On Tuesday, July 5, the Springfield City Council approved changes to the City’s garbage ordinance that should improve garbage service in Springfield and help clean up all neighborhoods. We thank Mayor Langfelder and the City Council for working with all stakeholders to craft ordinance changes that work toward a cleaner city.

The most important aspects from ICON’s perspective include:

  • Garbage violators assigned a hauler & charged on their CWLP bill
  • All recyclables picked up curbside
  • Solid waste in alleys collected by haulers
  • Haulers reporting fly dumping and no-service locations
  • Increase to the City’s Waste Disposal fee to cover expenses of services provided by the city.

Read details of the changes on our garbage page…


Icon voted in the fall of 2015 against any increase in refuse hauling fees without improvements to clean up the city.

Read an update to our garbage agenda…

As of the afternoon of the final City Council vote on July 5, ICON is still in the dark about the details of the proposed amendments to the “shell bill” 2016-223, particularly the Mayor’s amendment #2, which specifies the 1,500 garbage violators being assigned a hauler and put on CWLP billing. That amendment was passed for debate and final passage at the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 28, although no citizen has seen what it contains.

While we are in favor of garbage reform, we also are very much in favor of open government and citizen participation.

Shell bills and votes on ordinances that haven’t seen the light of day don’t reflect ICON’s definition of transparency.

Problem property ordinance passes July 5, 2016

ICON thanks Alderman Proctor, Alderman McMenamin, the Realtors, and Corporation Council and looks forward to seeing the results in Springfield’s older neighborhoods. This will provide a useful tool for City inspectors and City legal to clean up long-term problem properties.

ICON supports ordinance 2016-099, which updates the Defenses to Code Violations ordinance.  This change targets property owners who manipulate the complaint-driven property inspection and administrative court system by repeatedly violating property ordinances, then fixing the problem just in time to avoid fines.

Read more about this ordinance…

ICON Letter: The Magic of City Planning

Springfield ICON believes the City of Springfield would benefit from having a City Planner focused specifically on the city and tasked with creating city plans based on best practices and on efficiently implementing those plans in partnership with developers and property owners.  This person’s work could be supported by the currently-contracted Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission (SSCRPC). We’ve been lobbying for a city planner for awhile: read ICON’s October 27, 2014 letter to the City Council advocating for a city planner here…

On June 9, the following letter appeared in the Illinois Times in response to Paul O’Shea’s article promoting a City Planner and the Citizen Club breakfast forum on May 27 about City Planning. Read O’Shea’s article in the Illinois Times…


The Magic of City Planning

Paul O’Shea makes a convincing case for a city planner for the City of Springfield (Springfield needs a city planner, IT June 2). I attended the Citizen’s Club Breakfast May 27, which hosted a forum on urban planning with O’Shea; Rob Kowalski, City Planner in Champaign; and Norm Sims, Director of the Springfield – Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission (SSCRPC).

Kowalski said Champaign, which previously had a system similar to ours but now has 9 city planners on staff, has benefitted greatly from their city planning process. Benefits include compact and contiguous city growth by making infill more lucrative than sprawl, the skills to successfully complete complex or controversial projects, advocating for urban development, selling a strong vision of redevelopment to private investors and developers, providing political cover for city leaders who can then make informed decisions, and providing certainty to developers with known requirements, costs and a single point of contact. These benefits have saved the city money, provided a higher quality of life for residents, resulted in 4.2% city population growth since 20091, and median income growth of 32.2% between 2009 and 20122.

Although the SSCRPC provides planning services to Springfield under contract, some of the benefits cited by Kowalski simply can’t be provided by outsourcing: accountability for implementation and dedicated resources focused on city needs. The problems we’ve had finding a suitable location for the Salvation Army are just the latest example.

As ICON wrote in our letter to Mayor Houston in 2014, a city planner with specific expertise and training in city / urban planning could evaluate the needs of the city as a whole and advise city leaders on development of policies and specific plans to encourage growth that will benefit all of Springfield for years to come. ICON believes an investment in a city planner would pay for itself in decreased costs and confusion and increased growth, both for businesses and residents in Springfield.

We very much appreciate working with Norm Sims, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, both before and during his work with SSCRPC. It may not have been his intent, but some of Norm’s remarks at the forum support a city planner: the need for continuity from administration to administration, for example.

But we heard Norm’s admonition – a city planner wouldn’t be a “magic wand” we can wave to make Springfield a great city. It still takes 6 votes on the City Council to enact real change. Our forward-thinking Public Works Director is frequently called before the City Council to provide advice and accountability. Imagine a city planner called before the City Council to provide expert advice and ongoing accountability in implementing strategic city plans. Now that’s magic.

Carol Kneedler
Chair, Springfield ICON


ICON Supports Neighborhood in Salvation Army move

At ICON’s April meeting, we voted unanimously to speak to the City Council in support of the Pioneer Park Neighborhood Association’s opposition to having the Salvation Army move into their neighborhood. Our remarks to the Council on June 7 are below.

When I first heard about the proposed move of the Salvation Army to Gold’s Gym, I was surprised and didn’t understand how that happened so quickly.

I’m glad I was here in April to hear the neighbors speak. At the same time I admired their energy, passion, organization and commitment to their neighborhood, I was saddened to understand that we have taken a step backward in healing long-standing race issues in Springfield.

I don’t live in their neighborhood, but I do understand their concerns.

I understand their concerns – about the city making promises it can’t keep.

We have ordinances that aren’t enforced – a complaint-driven process that leaves many residents living next to dilapidated, unhealthy properties. Too many Springfield residents live next to the City Dump due to our lack of comprehensive and standardized garbage service. The city struggles to limit the impact of people who intentionally break the law or who can’t manage their lives – and residents suffer. As the Mayor said at the Gold’s Gym open house, “On private property, you can call the police. On public property, well, people have rights.”

Can you in good faith promise that those issues won’t be made worse by the traffic brought into this neighborhood? Can you in good faith promise that a future council won’t undo the promises made to this neighborhood and allow additional services at this location? Can you promise that this move won’t open the door for even more negative changes?

I understand their concerns – about being excluded from decision-making that impacts their neighborhood, their park, their families, their net worth, and their quality of life.

I challenge you to change the way you approach decision-making to include all stakeholders, especially the property-owners and neighbors whose day-to-day lives and long-term well-being are most impacted.

We heard their concerns about rail relocation.

I understand their concerns  – about rail relocation and living on the side of the tracks that will be even easier to forget when 40 trains a day go down the 10th Street corridor.

I encourage you to reach across the 10th St tracks with open arms, with a new perspective on the skills and energy and commitment those residents bring to the table and with a resolve to welcome those neighbors and neighborhoods into one Springfield that is working together on our problems.

And I further challenge you to reach across the 10th St tracks with not just rail relocation jobs, but with focused intent and money for economic development of vacant lots and substandard housing to improve the appeal to new residents with additional disposable income – and the associated business development that will bring needed services and good jobs.

How much of that economic development would $1.6m buy?

Whether it’s the Salvation Army, a halfway house, a liquor store or an irresponsible or inappropriate business, there are things you don’t want in your neighborhood. Springfield ICON voted unanimously for me to speak to you on this issue – because putting things in our neighborhoods that residents don’t want is everyone’s issue.

I challenge you to recognize the real concerns of these neighbors.
To actively work to include citizens in decision-making.
To put resources toward intentional planning and economic development.
And to systematically and cohesively address over a century of racism.

I challenge you to embrace a vision of a city that engages all its citizens to be concerned about and committed to the whole city.

ICON Publishes Quick Guide to City Council

For neighborhood leaders or volunteers who aren’t already familiar with the City of Springfield government, the multitude of contacts, departments, and different websites with different layouts and naming conventions can be a barrier to effective action. ICON presents this quick guide to the City Council as a small contribution to clarity.

Download ICON’s Quick Guide to City Council… (PDF)

ICON Guide to Creating a Neighborhood Association – NEW!

Neighborhood associations represent an area of the city where residents and business partners share common goals. A good neighborhood association can have a significant positive influence on the quality of life in a neighborhood.

Strong neighborhood associations support ICON’s mission to improve quality of life in Springfield’s older neighborhoods.

ICON has just published their new guide to Creating a Neighborhood Association – download now…

Go to our new Neighborhood Association Support page…

New Springfield City Arborist & Recommended Tree Lists

At the Harvard Park Neighborhood Association meeting on April 20, we heard from Springfield City Arborist Jeffrey Reim, who provided the following lists of trees for possible use by Springfield residents.

Central Illinois trees, with indications based on location and environment…

Download the recommended tree list…

Download the undesirable tree list…

Springfield ICON will be hearing from Anne Logue of Sustainable Springfield about their new Urban Canopy program at our May 23 program.

Download the Urban Canopy flyer…

ICON supports Chronic Nuisance Landlord Ordinance

Springfield ICON submitted the following guest editorial to the SJ-R that was published Saturday, March 19 in the SJ-R.

Look for more on problem properties coming soon.

It’s time to fix our problem properties

What’s it like to see the house next door sell for half of what it did 10 years ago? What’s it like to call the city to report the same garbage, the same weeds, the same broken windows month after month and year after year? Take a moment to imagine what that feels like. Many residents in our older neighborhoods don’t have to take a moment — they live it every day.

Some folks will say, “That’s not my issue — my neighborhood doesn’t have those problems.” At recent city ward meetings, we heard that all areas of the city are affected by limited city resources — for snow removal, for recycling, for infrastructure. City officials tell us there are not enough city resources to proactively address problem properties. And yet, a group of repeat offenders has been allowed to overuse city resources for decades.

Irresponsible landlords profit by choosing business practices that result in multiple substandard rental properties throughout our city. Those practices reduce their costs and increase their revenue at a huge cost to all the rest of us.

That cost is misery and reduced property values for their neighbors. That cost is hyper-vigilance and declining neighborhood appeal for neighborhood leaders. That real hard-dollar cost, to the entire city, is the time for inspectors, law enforcement, administrative court, city legal services, solid waste and garbage removal, and weed clean up. That long-term vicious cycle cost is reduced tax revenue, reduced school revenue and neighborhoods that are less attractive to home buyers and new businesses.

Problem property owners who understand how the system works take advantage — they fail to maintain a property, are cited for violations, and then abate the problem at the last minute to avoid fines. The result? Properties that are out of compliance with city code most of the time and that require limited city resources to force compliance some of the time.

An ordinance will soon be coming before the City Council to hold irresponsible property owners accountable. Its goal is to stop those who choose to ignore city code, who bring problem tenants into our neighborhoods and who impoverish neighborhoods in the process.

ICON appreciates and partners with responsible landlords who invest in our neighborhoods, take care of their properties and rent to good tenants who we can welcome as new neighbors. We are pleased to support an ordinance that will hold bad landlords accountable for their negative influence on our city without negatively affecting responsible property owners and good landlords. Indeed, addressing the worst landlords would be likely to improve the general impression of landlords that has become tarnished by the actions of a few.

We encourage you to call or email your alderman in support of the Chronic Nuisance Rental Property ordinance. It’s time to fix our problem with problem properties.

Rail Relocation Project Update – Feb. 11, 4-7 pm

In cooperation with Sangamon County, the City of Springfield and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Springfield Rail Improvement project will relocate all passenger and freight traffic from the Third Street corridor to Tenth Street; construct roadway underpasses at critical rail crossings on both the Tenth and Nineteenth Street corridors; and eliminate train horns in the City between Stanford Avenue and Sangamon Avenue.

A public open house is being hosted on Thursday, February 11, from 4:00-7:00p.m. at the Prairie Capital Convention Center for residents to come and learn more about the project and a chance to ask questions to those involved in the project.

For more details about the Open House go to, Springfield Rail Improvements Project’s website.

ICON Annual Holiday Party & Annual Meeting Fundraiser 2015

Support Springfield’s Neighborhoods
Support Springfield ICON

You are invited!

Monday, December 7, 2015
5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Shepardo’s in Vinegar Hill

  • Pizza, Pasta & Dessert Buffet, soft drinks
  • Cash Bar

Tickets available at the door for $25.


  • Social Hour
  • ICON Update 2015
  • Second Annual Good Neighbor Awards
  • ICON Election
  • Buffet Dinner

Good Neighbor Awards

Mark Mahoney, City of Springfield Public Works Director

Family Service Center: Compass Program

Northside Children’s Community Library

ICON Good Neighbor Awards 2015. Organization - Northside Children's Community Library; Compass After-School Program. Individual - Mark Mahoney.

Springfield ICON Holiday Party 2015 - Chair Carol Kneedler, Vice Chair Polly Poskin

Springfield ICON Good Neighbor Award 2015 - Northside Children's Community Library

Springfield ICON Good Neighbor Award 2015 - Compass After-School Program, Springfield, Illinois

Springfield ICON Good Neighbor Award 2015 - Mark Mahoney, Director of Public Works in Springfield, IL

Springfield ICON Good Neighbor Award 2015 - Mark Mahoney, Director of Public Works, with Polly Poskin and Carol Kneedler

Springfield ICON Holiday Party 2015 - Mayor Jim Langfelder, with ICON Chair Carol Kneedler

Springfield ICON Holiday Party 2015 - Mayor Jim Langfelder - ICON Chair Carol Kneedler

Springfield ICON Holiday Party and Annual Meeting 2015

Springfield ICON Holiday Party and Annual Meeting 2015 at Shepardos in Springfield, Illinois

Springfield Ward plan meetings start Nov 2 – attend yours – give your input!

Your input is needed! City of Springfield Ward Plan meetings are open forums where citizens are welcome to share their priorities. Topics could include: economic development, infrastructure, recreation, public safety, utilities, community resources, transportation, housing development, and beautification. Mayor Jim Langfelder said the process will help the City create a cohesive strategy for Springfield. The schedule is below, along with links to help you identify your ward.

We encourage residents of older neighborhoods to attend and discuss inner city issues that are critical to the health of Springfield’s core and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Ward 2
Monday, November 2, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Southeast High School Commons, 2350 East Ash

Ward 10
Wednesday, November 4, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Hope Church, 3000 Lenhart Road

Ward 1
Thursday, November 5, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Firefighters Club, 940 West Lake Shore

Ward 4
Saturday, November 7, 9:00 to 11:00 am
American Legion Post #32, 1120 Sangamon Ave

Ward 3
Monday, November 9, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
St. Cabrini Church, 1020 North Milton Ave

Ward 7
Saturday, November 14, 9:00 to 11:00 am
South Side Christian Church, 2600 S MacArthur

Ward 6
Monday, November 16, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Laurel United Methodist Church, 631 South Grand Ave West

Ward 8
Wednesday, November 18, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
LRS, 2451 West Monroe

Ward 5
Thursday, November 19, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Nelson Center at Lincoln Park

Ward 9
Saturday, November 21, 9:00 to 11:00 am
St. John’s Lutheran Church, 2477 West Washington Street

Residents who have questions about the forums may contact the Mayor’s office at (217)789-2200.

Read the full press release here…

Find your ward here…

Contact your Alderman…

Key Gateway Property: Bel-Aire Motel comes down

We hope Harvard Park Neighborhood Association gets to keep the Bel-Aire seal for a park or greenspace.  Meantime, we’re posting photos of the demolition.  Kudos to the City and to Harvard Park for working to improve the area.

More info at…

Now the City and developers need to put some effort and intentionality into developing Springfield’s key gateway properties!





Springfield ICON Announces Candidate Recommendations for 2015

ICON Press Conference Candidate Recommendations for Springfield, Illinois Municipal Elections, 2015.Today, for the first time ever, Springfield Inner City Older Neighborhoods is recommending Springfield municipal candidates for election.

Springfield ICON is a group of neighborhood leaders who work together to improve the quality of life throughout Springfield’s older neighborhoods.

An improved quality of life in older neighborhoods will raise the quality of life for all Springfield residents. The resulting absence of blight, increased attractiveness to visitors and potential residents, increased tax revenue, inner city economic development, and city pride are good for the entire City.

  • ICON focuses on responsible property ownership, a cleaner Springfield, neighborhood-friendly zoning, infrastructure maintenance, neighborhood revitalization, and visionary City leadership.
  • ICON promotes public policy changes to improve Springfield.
  • ICON attends City Council meetings and tracks votes on key issues.
  • ICON evaluates city leaders and candidates on their record and on their promises.

Springfield ICON has been preparing for this year’s election nearly as long as the candidates have. We’ve hosted conversations with mayoral candidates, we held a public forum in January for all aldermanic candidates, we’ve talked with other candidates since then, and we recently evaluated survey answers from aldermanic candidates.

We thank all candidates for sharing their ideas and vision for Springfield and for their willingness to run for public office and to serve the citizens of Springfield.

“All it takes is six votes” for an improved quality of life in Springfield, and ICON believes the following recommended candidates will provide the visionary leadership that Springfield needs:

Ward 1 Alderman: T Ray McJunkins

Ward 2 Alderman: Herman Senor

Ward 3: Alderman Doris Turner, who has been instrumental in promoting ICON issues while on the City Council

Ward 4 Alderman: Dave Varner

Ward 5 ICON membership expressed even support for both Alderman Sam Cahnman and Andrew Proctor

Ward 6: Alderman Cory Jobe, who has been a tireless promoter of ICON issues and a visionary leader in city redevelopment

ICON Press Conference Candidate Recommendations for Springfield, Illinois Municipal Elections, 2015.Ward 7 Alderman: Michael Higgins

Ward 8 Alderman: Ernie Slottag

Ward 9 Alderman: Jim Donelan

Ward 10 Alderman: Phil Chiles

City Treasurer: Misty Buscher

City Clerk: Rianne Hawkins

Mayor: Jim Langfelder

We’re Springfield ICON, and on April 7, we ask you to support our recommended candidates to make a difference in the future of Springfield.

GetCovered Open Enrollment at St. John’s February 13-15

Enroll Now Springfield!

Need health coverage? Open Enrollment ends February 15. Join us for free, in-person enrollment help!

February 13, 2015 – 9:00AM – 10:00PM
February 14, 2015 – 9:00AM – 6:00PM
February 15, 2015 – 9:00AM – 11:00PM

St. John’s Children’s Hospital
Main Lobby – Yellow Rose Tea Room
Entrance off 9th Street
Springfield, IL 62769

It may help to bring the following:

  • Full names, Birth dates, and Social Security numbers for you and any family member enrolling
  • Proof of Illinois residency (i.e. Illinois driver’s license)
  • Employer/income information (i.e. paycheck stubs, W-2)

Or beat the deadline by scheduling an appointment NOW at (866) 311-1119.

Contact Amanda Kozar, Regional Outreach Coordinator, at 217-685-6312 with any questions.

To learn more about the Marketplace, visit

Sponsored by Get Covered Illinois, St. John’s Hospital, Family Guidance Centers, Springfield Urban League, Central Counties Health Centers, and Illinois Migrant Council.

Download the flyer here…

Letter to the Editor: Get Involved – Make a Difference!

The decisions being made today that have the greatest impact on you and your family’s quality of life are those being made, not in Washington DC or state government, but by ten of your next-door neighbors.

Do you know who these neighbors are? Have you talked to them? Have you ever seen them at work, discussing and sometimes arguing over what they say are “your” problems? Do you know whether they are really as concerned about the value of your home and the safety of your neighborhood as you are?

We didn’t know these 10 people either – until we started asking them questions four years ago. They are our elected City Council Aldermen. We don’t want you to feel bad if you answered “no” to these questions – we want you to do something about it. Now you can be “in the know” and prepared to cast an informed vote on Election Day.

On Monday, January 26th, Springfield ICON (Inner City Older Neighborhoods), a coalition of neighborhood leaders, and partner organizations will be hosting the 2015 aldermanic candidates in a public forum. You’ll get to meet with candidates from all ten wards. You’ll have a chance to see how they react to a series of questions posed by representatives from a variety of organizations. We’ll cover issues related to blighted property, garbage collection, infrastructure, zoning variances, city planning, transportation, and neighborhood revitalization.

The forum will be held in the Dove Center at the Prairie Heart Institute on Mason Street between North 6th and 7th Streets, and it starts at 6:30 pm. Members and partners of ICON will be there to begin to get to know the new candidates, as we have come to know the current ten aldermen. You need to be there, too!

Join us Monday night as we continue the process of finding six votes to improve the quality of life in Springfield. Find out more, including notes from our conversations with mayoral candidates, at

Carol Kneedler, Chair, Springfield ICON (Inner City Older Neighborhoods)

Read the letter to the editor on the…

Visit our Election 2015 page… (aldermanic candidate bios coming soon)

Visit the event page…

Join our mailing list…

City Budget Razes Demolition Efforts

We’re disappointed that the proposed City of Springfield budget will not match 2014 funds for demolishing Springfield’s worst properties.  While we applaud the increased number of properties demolished in the past 4 years, there’s more work to do.  With a backlog of properties waiting to be torn down, older Springfield neighborhood residents still live next to and suffer reduced property values because of abandoned, neglected and hazardous properties.

From Dec 20 SJ-R:

One of the ongoing initiatives that isn’t seeing as much funding in the proposed budget is building demolitions, something Houston called “close to my heart.”

There is $415,000 in the budget proposal for demolitions, which is less than it’s been in the past because the public works department has more pressing software needs due to an outdated system. That pushed building demolitions down the priority list. Houston said he hopes there’s an opportunity for a supplemental appropriation for building demolitions in the coming year.

The mayor included $500,000 in last year’s budget proposal for demolitions, but the total increased throughout the year to more than $800,000 with supplemental funding. This winter alone, the department plans to demolish 100 structures in the city.

Read more at the SJ-R:

Springfield Budget Meetings Begin Wednesday…

Mayor Houston: City’s spending plan is ‘most difficult’ yet…

What can you do to help?

  • Please call or email your alderman and express support for older neighborhoods and specifically for full funding to demolish properties still on the demolition list.
  • Attend a City budget meeting – the schedule:
    • Jan 7 – 5:30 p.m. Budgets for city treasurer, clerk, city council, Lincoln Library, planning and economic development
    • Jan. 13 – Immediately following the 5:30 p.m. committee of the whole meeting. Budgets for the convention and visitors bureau, human resources and public works.
    • Jan. 15 – 5:30 p.m. Budget for City Water, Light and Power
    • Jan. 20 – Immediately following the 5:30 p.m. city council meeting. Budgets for police and fire departments
    • Jan. 22 – 5:30 p.m. Budgets for mayor’s office, budget and management
  • Get educated – attend ICON’s Aldermanic forum on Monday January 26, 6:30pm at the Dove Center.
  • Get involved – join ICON and/or your neighborhood association!



ICON Annual Meeting/Party Monday, December 15, 7pm

ICON members hosted their Annual Meeting and Holiday Party on Monday December 15 at Obed and Isaac’s. About 30 members and guests enjoyed a delicious buffet and good company. Chair Carol Kneedler provided a summary of ICON activity for 2014 and ICON’s plans for 2015.

Download the minutes as a PDF…

ICON presented our First Annual Good Neighbor Awards to an organization and two individuals who embody ICON’s Mission:

  • Vera Garrett from Springfield Community Garden Family Fit Center started in 2009 with one community garden on the lot adjacent to her home and has grown that into a non-profit with 4 gardens that empowers residents by promoting healthy eating, exercise, education, and participation in community activities.
  • Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association has taken the initiative in residential revitalization – with a land bank, recruiting urban pioneers to rehab distressed properties and ensuring those rehabs are in sync with the neighborhood’s historic character, and directly litigating problem property owners for faster results. Michelle Higginbotham accepted the award for EPNIA.
  • ICON founding member and Vice-Chair Steve Combs is an individual with a king-sized attitude and voice – an icon, if you will, of community organization.

2015 Steering Committee Members were elected

Chair, Carol Kneedler, 2015-2016
Vice Chair, Steve Combs, 2015-2016
Treasurer, Darrell Riffey, 2015 (to fill vacant 2nd half term position)
Parliamentarian, Karen Jacobs, 2015-2016
At Large (odd year), Polly Poskin, 2015-2016

(Positions not up for election for 2015)

Secretary, Marty Vandiver, 2014-2015 (full 2-year term position)
At Large (even year), Jamie Adaire, 2014-2015 (full 2-year term position)

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Enos Park Success in Cleaning up Problem Properties

Congratulations to Enos Park for their recent success using direct legal action against problem property owners living within 1200 feet of Enos Park LLC properties!

The lawsuits were filed in mid-August, under a section of the Illinois Municipal Code that gives property owners the right to seek legal remedies if a property within 1,200 feet – almost a quarter of a mile – of their own property is in violation of state law or local ordinances.

Read the full story at…

Find out more about the state ordinance that allows direct civil action against a problem property (in violation of state or local ordinances) within 1,200 feet of a property you own at

ICON Featured in City of Springfield Neighborhood News Oct-Dec, 2014

Thanks to Abby Walden and the City of Springfield for featuring ICON in their new edition of Neighborhood News for Oct-Dec 2014.  An excerpt is below.

Download the City-of-Springfield-Neighborhood-News-October-December 2014…

Carol Kneedler, Chair of the Springfield ICON, provides some insight and information about ICON and their impact on the community.

What is ICON?
The Springfield ICON, Inner City Older Neighborhoods, is a group of neighborhood leaders and participants that come together to discuss issues and problems affecting our neighborhoods, such as: zoning issues, problem properties, weeds, and trash. It began as a group with similar concerns over the 3rd St. Railway location. The participants saw the benefit of working together and continued to meet and work on other issues.

ICON’s mission, To improve the quality of life for Springfield residents in the inner city older neighborhoods, is a big task, how do you work toward this?
ICON believes that to make any real change, we must be involved in the political process. Our old motto, “All it takes is six votes” can attest to that. With six council votes, change happens. Education and participation amongst residents is really key; it all starts here.

How is ICON helping neighborhoods and their residents participate in the next election cycle?
We will be holding mayoral and aldermanic forums. This is an informal meeting where we as residents can really talk to the candidates and get to know their stance on issues that directly affect us. Mayor Houston will be joining us on November 29, to share his thoughts on the City’s progress and his plans for the future.

How can residents and neighborhood groups get involved with ICON?
They can find information on our website,, email or come to one of our meetings. Typically, we meet the last Monday of the month, but it is best to check the website to be sure. We encourage others to participate, regardless of whether or not their neighborhood has a formal association. Our meetings are free and open to the public.


Feature Your Neighborhood!

Tell Abby about your neighborhood and group and what makes your neighborhood unique to Springfield, contact her at: or call 217.789.2255


ICON Thanks City Council for Infrastructure Improvements

Sharon Riffey’s address to City Council on behalf of ICON given on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Every action has its effect. This is certainly true regarding infrastructure. Thank you Mayor Houston and members of the City Council for the action of passing the ordinances necessary for funding infrastructure improvements. Thank you, Director Mark Mahoney and all of the Public Works Team for the effect – streets, curbs, sidewalks and sewer repairs being completed in our older neighborhoods.

This is a perfect example of where teamwork can take us in keeping Mr. Lincoln’s Springfield a beautiful, well-maintained city that we can all take pride in.

In conclusion, thank you again from all of us at ICON for a job well-done.


SATS – Transportation Improvement Comments open until Oct 7, 2014

SATS has prepared the Draft FY 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) of road, bicycle, pedestrian, and mass transit projects in the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA).  Projects slated for implementation during each year are indicated along with the sources of funding.  An Illustrative Projects List is also included to identify projects that are priorities for future transportation dollars made available to the area.

The public may submit comments on the draft plan by Oct 7 to .

1154 N 3rd

Enos Park Sues Problem Property Owners

Enos Park is once again on the forefront of redevelopment in Springfield, taking 3 problem property owners to court in an effort to get properties repaired, demolished or donated to them for relief from crumbling structures, vagrants, and garbage.  The association has the ability to directly sue the property owners because they own property within 1,000 feet of the problem properties.

Read the full story at…

ICON Public Forum on Peoria’s Neighborhood Revitalization – Monday, August 25, 6:30pm

Springfield ICON (Inner City Older Neighborhoods) Coalition hosted a public forum on neighborhood revitalization on Monday, Aug. 25, with special guests from Peoria.

Videos and Downloads are below.

Peoria Department of Community Development & Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator

In June, the city of Peoria hired a full-time Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator for its Department of Community Development. The Peoria Community Development Department provides professional advice, technical expertise, and quality service in the areas of Urban Planning, Zoning Administration, Neighborhood Development, Grants Management, Building Inspections, Code Enforcement, and Economic Development to achieve goals set by the Peoria City Council and to create, maintain and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Peoria.

ICON and about 75 guests heard from Peoria city representatives about the new Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator, its recently approved neighborhood wellness plan, and how Peoria is approaching the problems of blight, crime and infrastructure decay.

To download PDF handouts, click on the file names below:


Video of the Public Forum


6:30-6:40 p.m.            Welcome by Steve Combs, ICON Vice-Chair

6:40-7:10 p.m.            Panel Discussion & Presentation
Moderator: Carol Kneedler, ICON Chair
Panelist: Joe Dulin, Assistant Community Development Director
Panelist: Shannon Techie, Senior Urban Planner, City of Peoria
Panelist: York Powers, Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator
Panelist: Eric Setter, Economic Development Specialist

7:10-8 p.m.      Question & Answer Session

Cookies and lemonade will be provided by ICON.

Download the press release…

Problem Properties – direct civil action

Did you know that as a property owner who lives within 1,200 feet of a property in violation of state or local ordinances, you can sue the negligent property owner directly in civil court, asking for a restraining order, a preliminary injunction,or a permanent injunction?

Below is the section of the IL Municipal Code that provides such remedy, and the direct link is


Illinois Municipal Code, 65 ILCS Section 11-13-15

    (65 ILCS 5/11-13-15) (from Ch. 24, par. 11-13-15)
    Sec. 11-13-15. In case any building or structure, including fixtures, is constructed, reconstructed, altered, repaired, converted, or maintained, or any building or structure, including fixtures, or land, is used in violation of an ordinance or ordinances adopted under Division 13, 31 or 31.1 of the Illinois Municipal Code, or of any ordinance or other regulation made under the authority conferred thereby, the proper local authorities of the municipality, or any owner or tenant of real property, within 1200 feet in any direction of the property on which the building or structure in question is located who shows that his property or person will be substantially affected by the alleged violation, in addition to other remedies, may institute any appropriate action or proceeding (1) to prevent the unlawful construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, conversion, maintenance, or use, (2) to prevent the occupancy of the building, structure, or land, (3) to prevent any illegal act, conduct, business, or use in or about the premises, or (4) to restrain, correct, or abate the violation. When any such action is instituted by an owner or tenant, notice of such action shall be served upon the municipality at the time suit is begun, by serving a copy of the complaint on the chief executive officer of the municipality, no such action may be maintained until such notice has been given.
    In any action or proceeding for a purpose mentioned in this section, the court with jurisdiction of such action or proceeding has the power and in its discretion may issue a restraining order, or a preliminary injunction, as well as a permanent injunction, upon such terms and under such conditions as will do justice and enforce the purposes set forth above.
    If an owner or tenant files suit hereunder and the court finds that the defendant has engaged in any of the foregoing prohibited activities, then the court shall allow the plaintiff a reasonable sum of money for the services of the plaintiff's attorney. This allowance shall be a part of the costs of the litigation assessed against the defendant, and may be recovered as such.
    An owner or tenant need not prove any specific, special or unique damages to himself or his property or any adverse effect upon his property from the alleged violation in order to maintain a suit under the foregoing provisions.
(Source: P.A. 80-419.)

SJ-R: MacArthur Boulevard Association success worth replicating

The SJ-R today lauded the MBA’s work in revitalizing the MacArthur Boulevard commercial corridor, writing, “A healthy commercial district is good for nearby neighborhoods and vice versa. The benefits reach residents, business owners, public schools, government coffers, shoppers and visitors.  Other aging commercial corridors in Springfield face similar struggles, and those who care about them ought to look to the MacArthur Boulevard Association for guidance.”

Read the full story at…

City Legal interpretation of Chronic Nuisance Ordinance hamstrings Bel-Aire cleanup

At City Council’s Committee of the Whole last night, aldermen and attendees were told the chronic nuisance ordinance only applies to specific units of a multi-unit residential housing property.

Pattern of Renting to Problem Tenants

The result is that if the landlord evicts a resident whose actions caused a police report under the ordinance, the count of violations for that unit starts all over again.  Eligible police reports are tracked by unit, not by the property as a whole.  In addition, City of Springfield corporation counsel said a judge would not be willing to board an entire property for problems with a single unit.  That might make sense – until you step back from that single unit and see that there are over 600 police reports in the past 2 years for the Bel-Aire, indicating a patten of allowing problem residents to rent rooms at the Bel-Aire.

2 Years to Foreclosure

ICON supports efforts to address the Bel-Aire and other problem properties united as a community: with police, housing inspectors, county health inspectors, city legal, city leadership and neighborhood leaders in a full-court press to fight neglectful absentee landlords.  Applying fines to the maximum allowed under the ordinance is a viable strategy, but only if it’s actually used.  City Legal says it takes about 2 years to get a problem landlord to foreclosure.  The ordinance was passed June 2012, so we’re now at 2 years and counting.

Hold Slumlords Accountable

The city needs to get serious about holding accountable slumlords who are all about profit and don’t mind taking police and other city resources away from the rest of the city.  They often don’t live here to suffer the crime, fear, expense and reduced property values.

Residents Take Direct Legal Action

What other options do we have?  One option being used by Enos Park uses a state statute that allows a resident living within 1200 feet of a property in violation of a local or state ordinance to take direct legal action.  They’ve had some success with this tactic, and apparently it’s not an onerous process.  Even if a neighborhood association is strapped for cash, my guess is that a fund-raiser to go after the local crack house might be pretty successful.

Bake sale, anyone?


Public input meeting – downtown greenspace Monday, 7/14, 5pm

Parklet - photo credit Paul Krueger’s Restaurant invites you to: downtown parking spaces as seasonal greenspace

MONDAY, July 14, 5pm
Maldaner’s Restaurant
222 S 6th St., Springfield, IL

Come provide input and hear about the latest in urban design and liveable cities.

Maldaner’s invites you to find out more about an innovative idea in downtown greenspace: using parking spaces either as seasonal outdoor dining patios or as “parklets”, small seasonal public mini-parks.

ICON Neighborhood Picnic June 8 – Lake Park

Come join your neighborhood friends for an afternoon of music, games and summer fun. Make some new friends from throughout Springfield’s older neighborhoods.

Lake Park mapSunday June 8, 2014
1:00pm to 6:00 pm

Lake Park at Lake Springfield   (Off East Lake Drive across from the Henson-Robinson Zoo)

We had a great time with neighborhood leaders, Porkpie & the North End Allstars and good food – thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the beautiful weather!


Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Lemonade and Iced Tea provided. ICON will also provide plates, cups, napkins and plastic ware.
Please bring a dish to pass.
Note: This is an alcohol free event


Picnic-Flyer-2014-grillPorkpie and the Northend All-Stars
Blues, Funk, Soul, and Jam
2:30 – 5:30 pm


Kids games, plus a park playground. Bring a favorite kids game, your wiffle
ball equipment or a kickball.


Click here to see the flyer for more information.





Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Ace Sign Company
Hanson Professional Services
Historic West Side Neighborhood Association
Cory Jobe, Ward 6 Alderman
Knox Knolls Neighborhood Association
O3 Internet Consulting
Rianne Hawkins, Springfield City Clerk’s Office, & Neil Calderon
Suzie Qs
Ann Vandiver Tupperware
Wallace Tax Accounting

Thanks to our 2014 Picnic Sponsors!

ICON to receive Mayor’s Historic Preservation award for Neighborhood Preservation Efforts

ICON is honored to be a recipient of the 2014 Mayor’s Historic Preservation award in the Neighborhood Preservation Efforts category. The Awards were presented on Monday, May 5, at the Lincoln Park Pavilion, 1601 North 5th Street, from 5:30-7:30pm. The award ceremony was held immediately after a short reception.

Thank you to Mayor Houston & the Historic Sites Commission for Springfield ICON’s Neighborhood Preservation Award!
Congratulations to other recipients: Lincoln Depot, Dunn Building, Booth House, Historic Black Firehouse, Strawbridge-Shepherd House, Municipal Center Bridge Fountain & Plaza, African-American History Museum, SJ-R’s “Flashback Springfield” series, “Journey to Greatness: Character lessons from the Past”.

Mayors-Award-Historic-Preservation-2014 Mayors-Historic-Preservation-Award-2014 Mayors-Historic-Preservation-Award-ICON-poster

Historic Sites Commission

The award is given by the Historic Sites Commission of Springfield, IL.  Visit their website at

They have a great list of historic sites in Springfield at  Click on the image to see details about each site, including address, history, contact information and website links (for some).


ICON at Earth Day Springfield on Saturday, April 26

Join Springfield ICON at Earth Day on Saturday, April 26 from 10am to 2pm!

Springfield’s Annual Earth Day Celebration  is a ZERO WASTE event at Lincoln Park.  Bring the family and enjoy food, music and local earth-friendly vendors.  Find out about environmental initiatives taking place right here in Springfield!

Earth Day Springfield - coming together to make a difference

Earth Day Springfield – coming together to make a difference


Outreach Chair and Secretary Marty Vandiver and ICON Chair Carol Kneedler

Outreach Chair and Secretary Marty Vandiver and ICON Chair Carol Kneedler


ICON's new banner

ICON’s new banner


ICON at Earth Day 2014

Enos Park – good neighbors!


Refashioned fridges with earth-friendly messages.

Refashioned fridges with earth-friendly messages.

Clean Up Green Up Springfield!

Household Hazardous Waste Collection for Springfield Residents April 12

Location: Illinois State Fairgrounds. Enter at Gate 11.
Time: 8am- Noon. If you are in line outside of the gates at noon, you will be unable to enter and drop-off your items.

This collection is open to City of Springfield residents ONLY!
YOU MUST BRING proof of residency, i.e. Driver’s License and CWLP bill.

Please label the waste containers.
Residents will remain in their vehicles during the collection process.

Acceptable Waste:

  • Paint Aerosols
  • Sealers and Adhesives
  • Solvents
  • Antifreeze
  • Used Motor Oil
  • Pesticides Solids
  • Pesticide Liquids
  • Pesticide Aerosols
  • Oil Based Paint

Unacceptable Items:

  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Propane Tanks
  • Business/commercial sector wastes
  • Smoke detectors
  • Explosives
  • Farm machinery oil
  • Fireworks
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Lead Acid Batteries
  • Institutional Wastes
  • Medical Wastes
  • Sharps, needles and potentially infectious medical wastes

If you any questions, please call the Office of Public Works at 217.789.2255.

Earth Day Celebration

Saturday, April 26, 10am to 2pm, Lincoln Park
Join ICON at Earth Day – we’re giving away a $50 gift certificate to the Bike Doctor!

Spring Yard Waste 2014

Resident Drop Off – April 14th through May 2nd.

Residents of the City of Springfield can begin dropping bagged or loose yard waste at Evans Recycling at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway. Evans Recycling is open from 7 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday and from 7 AM until 12 noon on Saturday. Residents should be prepared to show proof of residency if requested.

Curbside Pick Up – April 14th through May 2nd

Public Works crews will begin picking up yard waste placed curbside on Monday, April 14th and end collection on Friday, May 2. Crews will attempt to move through each neighborhood weekly depending on work load.

In order for residents to take advantage of the once per week collection, they should place leaves in paper yard waste bags or cans marked “YARD WASTE” at the curb by 7:00 a.m. on Monday of each week. Please do not remove the bagged leaves or cans from the curb once you place them there.

Bags or cans should be placed at the end of driveways or on parkways between the sidewalk and street. Leaves should be placed in paper yard waste bags—not grocery sacks or boxes. Please do not use any type of tape on the bag to seal it shut as the tape is not recyclable. Plastic bags are not accepted because they cannot be recycled.

Waste cans are acceptable, but they should not weigh more than 60 pounds and must be marked “Yard Waste” in letters large enough to be seen from the street by the drivers. Yard waste bags or cans that are too heavy or contain trash or other inappropriate materials will be left. Bags containing grass are not part of the program and will require a sticker for pick up; they will not be picked up until after the City’s spring leaf collection program is completed on May 3.

Sweetgum Balls

Residents can place collected sweetgum balls in yard waste bags, drop off at Evans Recycling, or put into their trash cans for pick up on regular trash days.


Resident Drop Off – Year Round Weather Permitting

Residents may drop off branches at Evans Recycling with proof of residency. This service is not for commercial operators but for residents only.

Curbside Pick Up – May through November

Public Works crews will begin picking up branches placed on the curb no larger than approximately a pick up load. Roughly 4 foot in depth and 10 feet in length piles are acceptable. The program is for branches only no trees will be accepted nor will branches or trees trimmed by commercial contractors. A schedule will be announced and provided to the State Journal- Register as well as posted on the City website,, and Channel 18.

Should resident have any questions please contact: Public Works at 789-2255 or Evans Recycling at 391-0886.

Herb Plant Sale and Plastic Pot Recycling

Master Gardener volunteers of University of Illinois Extension Menard and Sangamon counties will hold an “Herb Plant Sale and Plastic Pot Recycling” on Saturday, May 3, from 8 am to Noon. The event will be held in conjunction with Springfield Civic Garden Club Plant Sale at TechTown, Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield.

A variety of herbs will be offered including: Basil, Curly and Flat Leaf Parsley, six varieties of Thyme, eight varieties of Scented Geranium, Rosemary, lavender, salad burnet, summer savory and 4 varieties of Sage. Plants will be priced from $3 to $7. Garden gloves and soil knives will also be available for purchase.

Plastic Pot recycling —bring your clean cell packs, trays, plastic pots. Containers will be reused or recycled. Questions call (217) 782-4617.

Rain Barrel Program

One way to reduce outdoor water usage and conserve water is to collect rainwater. A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater. A typical ½ inch rainfall will fill a 55 gallon barrel. It is estimated that a 55 gallon rain barrel can save about 1,300 gallons of water during the summer. The water can then be used during dry periods to water plants.

The University of Illinois Extension Logan-Menard-Sangamon Unit will offer “The Use of Rain Barrels” program on Tuesday, May 20, from 6 to 7 pm at the U of I Extension building located at 700 South Airport Drive, Springfield. Register to attend a Rain Barrel presentation and order a rain barrel, by visiting the Unit’s website at or call (217) 782-4617.

Selection of rain barrel can be made at time of ordering. These 55 gallon food quality high density poly ethylene barrels are available in blue, gray, terracotta and black. CWLP customers may be eligible for a $25 rebate.

ICON Meetings & Events 2014

Meetings are usually in the basement of the First Church of the Brethern at 7pm, generally on the last Monday of the month, with a few exceptions – please see dates below.
First Church of the Brethern

2115 Yale Blvd, Springfield, IL 62703

January 27
February 24
March 24
April 28 – Green Summit
May 19 (5/26 is Memorial Day)
June 30
July 28
August 25
September 29
October 27
November 24
December 15 Annual Meeting & Party
December 29 – NO MEETING

The first meeting of 2015:
January 26, 2015

ICON Monthly Meeting Monday, January 27, 7pm

Springfield, IL large item pickup helps to address fly dumping in older neighborhoodsPlease join ICON for our Monthly Meeting!

  • Abby Walden, Springfield Public Works
    Large Item Pickup Program
  • Josh Collins, Springfield Chamber
    SDAT Downtown Housing Study
  • Plus updates on ICON issues.


January 2014 Meeting Recap

Abby Walden, Springfield Public Works recycling coordinator spoke to ICON about three upcoming environmentally friendly activities:

  • Hazardous waste pick-up at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
  • F and W Resources large item pick-ups
  • Annual Earth Day celebration

The hazardous waste drop-off will be on April 12th from 8am until noon.  Public Works plans to make this an annual event.

Two residential large item pick-ups will be completed by F and W Resources each year with three items allowed each time. F and W can be reached at 528-1649. In addition, a Spring large item drop-off is also being planned. Proof of Springfield residence will be required; details of the large item initiatives will be forthcoming.

The annual Earth Day celebration will be held on Saturday, April 26th from 10am until 2pm, either Downtown, or in Lincoln Park. Environmentally friendly messages from community groups will be accepted, details will be publicized.

Abby responded to a question about publicizing the benefits derived from the $1.50 monthly recycling fee by indicating that a press release would be forthcoming.


Our second speaker at the January meeting was Josh Collins, who handles governmental relations for the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Josh summarized the recent Downtown Housing Study  which was completed by Bowen National Research for the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and its community partners, Downtown Springfield Incorporated (DSI) and the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT). The final conclusions from the study which started in summer 2013 (based on 2012 data) can be found on the websites of the Chamber, DSI and SDAT.

Bowen National Research completed a Downtown Analysis (Primary Study Area) and a City-Wide Analysis (Secondary Study Area. Among the conclusions reached by the study, the following ones stand out:

  1. Nearly 15,000 (30.0%) of Springfield households are cost-burdened paying over 30% of their income for housing.
  2. Downtown renters pay approximately 25% more rent for Market Rate Rentals than Springfieldians  living elsewhere in he city.
  3. Downtown housing has a 99.3% occupancy rate with only nine vacant units currently available. 95% occupancy is considered optimal.
  4. Plenty of development sites exist in the downtown area which have the potential for resolving pent-up demand.

Following Josh’s presentation, a period of questions and discussion focused on what downtown housing projects are in the works, what types of funding mechanisms are available, and what type of downtown residents  are we trying to attract. Victoria Ringer of DSI indicated that there are three downtown housing projects underway and developer interest in potential downtown projects. These projects would add an additional 130 housing units to downtown, but will need a combination of public and private funds to come to fruition.  Federal tax credits, TIF funds and energy tax credits were mentioned as incentives needed to build more downtown housing

The consensus among discussion participants was that different age groups and lifestyles need to be considered when promoting downtown housing. Virtually everyone agreed that young professionals are an important element in a vibrant downtown housing market for their economic impact and the fresh ideas that they contribute to the community.


Prior to adjournment, Jen Aholt indicated that a nighttime running event and fundraiser at Oak Ridge Cemetery will take place on May 3, 2014 from 6pm until midnight. This activity will be a fundraiser for restoring the original gate at Oak Ridge prior to the 2015 Lincoln funeral reenactment.

Prepared by Marty Vandiver, ICON Secretary

ICON Annual Meeting & Party Dec 16, 2013, 5:30pm

Meet and Greet



Who’s been naughty

 who’s been nice?

The ICON elves are makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice!

We know when aldermen are a sleep

We know when their awake

We know when their votes have been bad or good

And we’re going to keep pressing for goodness sake

So don’t shout, pout, or cry, we’ll tell you why

Good things are coming to town

Let Santa know what you want under your neighborhood tree!   He’s got solutions for boarded houses, garbage collection, recycling, nuisance abatement, zoning, and loud noise 


Santa’s having Christmas cookies and milk but we’ve got hors d’oeuvre and a cash bar JUST FOR YOU!



DEC. 16, 2013

5:30 TO 7 P.M.


Maldaner’s Restaurant  

Upstairs lounge


ICON Monthly Meeting Monday, August 26, 7pm

To ICON Members and Participants

Our August meeting will be held tonight, 7 p.m., at First Church of the Brethren, Ash and Yale.

The Zoning Review Committee met to discuss guiding principles by which they feel ICON should evaluate zoning proposals. There are a number of  zoning issues being considered by the city staff and Zoning Commission which will have an effect upon our neighborhoods 1) down zoning in MacArthur Boulevard and Enos Park, 2) changes to traffic flow along Lawrence at MacArthur and Walnut, 3) ordinance waiver for parolee half way houses, and 4) waiver for homeless shelter.

The committee did not review the merits of any of these zoning issues but concentrated on potential guidelines ICON could use to determine if we want to support these or future zoning proposals. We based our discussion on factors we felt would impact on the “Quality of life” for our neighborhoods.

We want to use tonight as a working meeting to identify those items we feel are critical to the Quality of Life in our neighborhoods.

We hope you’ll join us to help make a list of things we “want” for our neighborhoods.


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ICON Monthly Meeting Monday, April 29 7pm

To ICON members and participants:

We will hold our April meeting next Monday, 7 p.m. at the First Church of the Brethren. You don’t want to miss this one even if it snows again!

Norm Sims, Executive Director of the SSCRPC, will join with us to explain the procedures followed in reviewing request for waivers to current zoning codes. The issue of zoning waivers has created concern in a number of our older neighborhoods. The Steering Committee feels we need to increase our knowledge and involvement in this process.

Several resources from the SSCRPC website:

Download “Considering Spot Zoning”…

In addition, Kevin Greene with the Springfield Bicycle Club will bring us up to date on the proposed plan for bicycle paths in the city and there connection countywide with other communities. It seems every study done (R-DAT,S-DAT, CLUE) on how Springfield can become more viable concludes we need different traffic patterns and enhanced biking and walking paths. For some reason this plan is on hold. We need to find out why and what we can do to get it moving.

Speaking of traffic, ICON’s support of a 1% sales tax increase to enhance the infrastructure of the city was defeated by one swing vote. The Council did approve a .5% increase, however, that will only help fill 325 miles of pot holes for the next three years. There is no money in the ordinance for maintaining the other 325 miles and certainly none for any new projects. The city will still be in a catch up mode during the next two years of this Councils tenure. We’re not going to get ahead of the curve.

In addition to our fight to get the garbage ordinance changed, we have work ahead of us for the next two years to find leadership that has a greater vision of how to create  more viable neighborhoods as the core of our historic city.


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Dave Bakke April 2: Critique of Springfield’s image touches nerve

ICON supported Dave Bakke when he wrote last week about the lack of pedestrian access at the new County Market on Carpenter and 2nd.  But then he followed up with a second column that includes the kind of big-picture forward-thinking that is near and dear to our hearts.  Instead of supporting a new liquor store at Springfield’s southern gateway (Chantilly Lace property at S5th & Stanford), how about planning ahead for a brighter future?  We’re not into throwing stones (well, maybe for intentional bad guys), but we’re asking the same questions – where is the leadership in today’s Springfield – where are those who would build a Lake Springfield, CWLP or a Lincoln Library & Museum?

Here are a few excerpts and a link to the full story at

Where does Springfield go from here to make sure we get more compliments than complaints? Well, if I were dictator of Springfield, here is where I’d be spending my time:

  • Dump that doomed Hunter Lake project, sell the farmland the city bought for it. Designate part of the proceeds to fund a second water source that would be the best alternative we can get done within five years.
  • Build a new baseball stadium. No self-respecting minor league team is ever going to ever play in Lanphier Park.
  • Redo or rebuild the Prairie Capital Convention Center. It was not designed correctly from the get-go. Current director Brian Oaks is the best we have had since Pat Fitzgerald was PCCC director some 25 years ago. But even he can only do so much.
  • Throw in our lot with the Bloomington-Normal Regional Airport  We should have done this when it was created. It’s not too late.
  • Convince somebody to take a risk and put a movie theater downtown.

There is work being done on some of these initiatives, but it’s mostly talk and no results. If the city could show some results on any or all of this list, my how Springfield’s image would change.

These are huge initiatives. It will be scary. It means taking big risks, doing things differently from the way things have been done before and finding creative ways to fund projects to improve the quality of life in Springfield.

The big question is, is there anybody in power here who is savvy enough to do it? Other cities do it. Are their leaders that much smarter and more aggressive than ours? There are times when I think that’s exactly the case. But maybe it’s all about priorities.

These initiatives could keep Springfield’s mayor, aldermen and other city officials busy for years. Then, if city leaders could just get somewhere with those, it wouldn’t be so frustrating to have them spend so much time on leaf and branch pickup, regulating outdoor concerts, worrying about where city employees live or how to dispose of used cooking oil. Really, there are much bigger fish to fry.

Read the full story at…

Dave Bakke March 30: Some criticisms of Springfield justified

ICON applauds Dave Bakke for his column March 30 – we wish we had written it.  ICON is all about making Springfield a better place to work, live and do business – for ALL of Springfield.  Along with neighborhood groups such as Enos Park and MacArthur Boulevard, which have master plans in place for intentional redevelopment of blighted areas that include room for pedestrian and bicycle access, ICON supports planning for an improved Springfield.  We can’t agree more that developers who receive TIF money should be held to a higher standard.

We want to be clear that we welcome the new County Market at Carpenter and 2nd Street, a huge benefit to the Medical District / Enos Park area.  We’re pleased that, as of April 9, County Market owner Neimann has added two sidewalks (one on Carpenter, one on Second St.) to connect the city sidewalks to the County Market property and provide improved pedestrian access.

Excerpts of the article are below with a link to the full article on

…And this week, a St. Louis architect gave his assessment of Springfield’s new County Market on Carpenter Street. The headline: “Springfield, IL and Niemann Foods Don’t Understand Pedestrian-Friendly Design.” Steve Patterson wrote about this on his weblog, UrbanDesignSTL  Steve has a degree in environmental design from the college of architecture at the University of Oklahoma. His blog was named Best Blog in St. Louis by Riverfront Times and its readers and by St. Louis Magazine.  He writes, “Springfield and Niemann Foods had a chance to build a good urban prototype that would’ve been equally accessible by pedestrians and motorists, but they blew it big time. They need to at least provide an ADA pedestrian route from both Carpenter and 2nd Streets to each entrance.”

Having a new grocery store where it is located is a boost for Springfield. Nobody disputes that. But Patterson prints excerpts that show (1) Springfield officials knew the store would get heavy pedestrian traffic; (2) the recommendation 11 years ago (!) from the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team for Springfield to get more pedestrian-friendly; and (3) one goal of Springfield 2020, 13 years ago (!), was to make Springfield more pedestrian-friendly.  Eleven years and 13 years. How long does it take? I suppose, compared to waiting 40 years for a second city water source, 11 and 13 years are not too bad.

Patterson compares our new County Market to the County Market on East Stoughton in Champaign, which, in Patterson’s view, was done right. He includes illustrations showing sidewalks next to the exterior walls of the Champaign store. Sidewalks lead to both its main entrance and secondary entrance. In contrast, he shows a man in a wheelchair at the Springfield store navigating through the parking lot.  I called Bruce Knight, Champaign’s director of city planning, and asked, “Did your city insist on a pedestrian-friendly design, or did the original plans already call for it?” In other words, could Springfield’s store have been designed like this if our city officials had insisted?  His response: “We were very much involved in that. It’s a heavy pedestrian area in our university district. We very much wanted to ensure that there was good pedestrian access, so we worked closely with the developer and County Market.”

Back to Champaign. I asked city planner Knight if that city had Niemann do more than is required by city ordinances.  “Yes,” he said. “Since the development was done through an RFP (request for proposal) and approved as a Planned Development, there was more done.”  Patterson on the issue: “Cities will often say they can’t force private developers to do things the way they’d like them to be done. If urban zoning … isn’t in place ahead of time, it can be difficult to force a private project to do something the regulations don’t require. But Springfield did a $2 million TIF with County Market. They had the ability to make the project better.”

I have had enough of Springfield being insulted and used as a bad example. It’s embarrassing, infuriating and painful. Especially when it’s our own fault. I live here. I want it to be better, and it could be.

Read the full story at…

ICON Monthly Meeting Monday February 25 – Springfield Infrastructure Plan

Mark Mahoney and John Higginbotham presented a “Street & Sewer Infrastructure Analysis” specifying repairs and maintenance for roads, sidewalks and sewers over the next 3 years at an estimated cost of $86.6 million.  No funding has been proposed to pay for the plan; we are waiting on the City to propose a plan that would be acceptable to at least 6 members of the City Council.  In addition to needed repairs, small expansion of sidewalks and possibly the addition of bike-friendly improvements would be done.  Several reasons why we should invest in infrastructure repair & maintenance now:
    1. Increased future cost of wages and materials.
    2. Continuing and cumulative deterioration that will require even more work if we don’t address it now; savings from preventive maintenance and extending life of roads & sewers.
    3. Possibility of Consent Decree mandating improvements and civil penalties from EPA for lack of acceptable progress in eliminating sanitary sewer overflows to groundwater. (Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District required to spend $4.7 billion over 23 years and fined $1.2 million.
Aldermen have a priority list of repairs in their wards.  ICON has requested improvement maps and the priority list.
Infrastructure expansion and modernization are not part of this plan, and would most likely need to be funded, at least in part, by state and federal funding and grant funds.
– Public Works continues to address garbage scofflaw issues, citing 100-200 garbage ordinance violators a week through a “very labor intensive” process involving confirming addresses without service, visual inspections, citations, Administrative Court, Circuit Court, a watch list for repeat offenders, and waivers only for senior citizens who can prove sharing garbage pickup.
– The waste & recycling changes are proceeding, with the $1/month increase effective April 1, 2013.  The CWLP software vendor is providing a proposal to implement billing on CWLP bills, which will take effect no later than January 1, 2014.  The City hopes to implement CWLP billing sooner.
Consistency of waste hauling services continues to evolve, including garbage can size and routes and scheduling to facilitate citations for people who chronically leave garbage cans on the street.  Changes are sent through the Circuit Clerk so Aldermen are aware of changes.
– In addition to our regular attendees, we were joined by 3 representatives of Springfield Lakeshore Neighborhood Association and 1 representative of the Springfield Bike Club – see below for details.
– Support our host, First Church of the Brethren for their Pancake BreakfastMarch 9 at 7am
Next meeting Monday, March 25, 7pm.

Icon Monthly Meeting Monday, January 28, 7pm

We will hold our January ICON meeting next Monday the 28th, 7 p.m., at the First Church of the Brethren, Yale and Ash. Dan Winters, General Manager of Allied Waste, will be our guest speaker.

The executive committee had a chance to meet Dan last November. He has a lot of information to provide us regarding Allied’s recycling and waste pick up program. Since the mayor and aldermen have recently approved changes to Springfield’s ordinance, one that ICON supported, I believe there is much we can learn about what Allied can provide.

This presentation is part of our efforts to better understand what services we can expect from the haulers regarding both garbage and waste removal. We plan to actively support and promote the new recycling efforts of the city but will continue to lobby for changes in garbage collection.

Look forward to seeing you Monday night. If you have not yet join ICON for 2013, you can register at the meeting.

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ICON Annual Meeting Monday 12/17 – Suzy Qs

To ICON Members and Participants

Remember Monday, Dec 17th, 5:30 p.m. at Susie Q’s.  We’ll have a supper get together to end a very busy year – a $10 plate diner and election of Steering Committee positions open for the coming year.

Please RSVP to confirm a seat at the table!

Steering Committee slate
Steve Combs, President
Michelle Higginbotham, Vice President
Karen Jacobs, Parliamentarian
Polly Poskin

Steering Committee members not up for re-election:
Bill Castor, Treasurer
(Carol Kneedler and Jamie Adair will switch roles, with Carol taking on responsibilities of Secretary.)

Garbage Update
Since our last meeting Mayor Houston has presented a revised ordinance which the members of your Steering Committee have supported public in a press release (attached) and a presentation by Carol Kneedler at the last Committee of the Whole meeting. The ordinance falls short of our original recommendations to Jobe, Turner, and Mahoney but we felt it was at least in the right direction. The Tuesday following our meeting the council will continue debate and vote on the ordinance (ie increase waste and recycling fees to $1.50 a month and collect fees thru CWLP).

Regardless of how the vote comes out, your current Steering Committee is ready to “fight the fight” over the next two years if we have too! Two more years and aldermen will be up for election.


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If you haven’t joined ICON for 2013 please Springfield-ICON-Membership-Application and come with $30, $20 for membership, $10 for diner.

Springfield Residents Deserve a Real Solution to the Garbage Problem in Springfield, IL

Excerpted from a story by
The State Journal-Register
Posted Dec 11, 2012

Springfield aldermen spent more than an hour Tuesday questioning Mayor Mike Houston’s proposal to increase the city’s waste and recycling fee by a $1 a month and put the fee on City Water, Light and Power bills. The measure was put on next week’s debate agenda without any indication whether there are enough votes for it to pass.

[Ward 6 Alderman Cory  Jobe and]  Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner and Houston originally proposed the city collect both garbage and recycling feesthrough CWLP bills. That proposal, which was intended to make sure all residents had trash service, failed to get enough support.Public Works Director Mark Mahoney said the mayor has ordered his staff to increase enforcement of the city’s current garbage ordinance a month ago. His department is dedicating more time and employees to the effort, Mahoney said, focusing on 100 homes at a time. The city also has reinstituted a waiver process that allows people over 62 who share garbage service with someone else to be exempt from having trash pickup at their residences. Aldermen disagreed on whether waivers also should be granted for residents who take their trash to their businesses.

Under the mayor’s proposal, the city’s waste and recycling fee would increase from 50 cents to $1.50 on April 1. The increase would generate an additional $376,000 annually. That money would help cover the current cost of the city’s waste and recycling programs and possibly expand them. Even if the increase is approved, the city’s recycling fee would still be the lowest in Illinois, Houston said.  The ordinance also calls for the city to start collecting the fee by Jan. 1, 2014. The fee is currently collected quarterly by waste haulers and paid to the city.

Possible program expansions include large item pick-ups, creation of a drop-off site, recycling, neighborhood and alley cleanups and hazardous waste collections.

The Inner City Older Neighborhoods Coalition (ICON), urged aldermen to pass the waste and recycling increase, stating, “This ordinance is a step in the right direction, but ICON believes Springfield residents deserve a real solution that residents of other cities take for granted.”

Read the full story at…

Find out more on our Garbage page…

ICON Supports Recycling Ordinance

For immediate release December 9, 2012
ICON Steering Committee
Steve Combs, ICON Chairman

ICON, the coalition of Inner City Older Neighborhoods, supports Mayor Houston’s proposed ordinance to increase the waste and recycling fee by $1 dollar per month.

The improvement of these services by the administration and its Public Works Department over the past year has been significant. However, it is imperative that the recycling fee be increased to properly fund the leaf, branch and large item pickup programs. These services need to continue with a proper and adequate funding source rather than by using funds which could and should be used elsewhere.

The current 50 cent a month fee is far short of the cost of the services being provided. To continue to efficiently pick up leaves and branches and enhance more recycling opportunities in the near future will require support for this extremely modest increase in fees.

Twelve dollars for the year is less than one meal at your favorite restaurant!

There is not a single part of the city that won’t be affected by increased piles of branches and leaves in alleys and front curbs if these fees are not increased. In addition, any effort to increase the recycling of paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, and glass materials with single stream programs and incentives to reduce the volume of future garbage pickup will be greatly hindered.

Ultimately this is ICON’s goal: reduce the volume of garbage being picked up in Springfield and increase the volume of recyclable materials. That effort requires a stronger educational program and incentives for all Springfield residents to move toward single stream recycling.

The addition of the waste and recycling fee to the CWLP bill is a practical and functional way to insure all residents are paying for the service and Public Works will have the resources to enhance the recycling program. It will also eliminate the haulers’ responsibility to take care of the billing and collection process which is already a pass through payment from the haulers directly to the City.

ICON had supported a much stronger approach to enhance Springfield’s ability to keep it neighborhoods clean and healthy, attract new businesses and residents to the city, and ensure all guests and tourists leave with a positive image of the city. However, this ordinance does move the process in a positive direction and we encourage the aldermen to support its passage.

Leaf Pickup and Large Item Pickup could be Trashed if New Waste Ordinance not Passed

Posted Dec 08, 2012
Springfield’s spring and fall leaf collection and large-item pickup programs could be scaled back or eliminated if aldermen don’t approve a $1-a-month increase in the city waste and recycling fee, the city’s public works director said. It’s unclear whether there will be enough votes to pass the revised proposal, which was introduced by Mayor Mike Houston last week.

Public works director Mark Mahoney said increasing the fee from 50 cents to $1.50 would generate an additional $376,000. The money will help cover the current cost of the city’s waste and recycling programs — and possibly expand them, he said.  Possible program expansions include the large item pick-up program, creation of a drop-off site, recycling, neighborhood and alley cleanups and hazardous waste collections.  “An increase in the fee would be a significant boost to making the city cleaner and greener,” Mahoney said. “Maintaining it at the current level will guarantee a gradual elimination of services or taking from other areas of the city budget to cover (it).”

City would collect fee

Waste haulers currently collect the recycling fee as part of garbage bills and give the money to the city treasurer. Under the proposal, the city would start collecting the recycling fee by Jan. 1, 2014, most likely via City Water, Light and Power bills.  “We … anticipate more thorough collection once we place it on the utility bill, so it should very quickly — possibly within a year — pay for itself,” he said.   All Springfield residents who pay for garbage already are charged a recycling fee — or they should be, per city ordinance. The fee has been 50 cents a month for at least a decade and generates about $188,000 a year.

Revised proposal

The mayor, Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner and Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe originally proposed a similar ordinance but it also called for the city to collect trash charges, which currently are collected quarterly by waste haulers. That idea didn’t get the six votes needed to pass.  Their original proposal, Jobe said, would have brought “real results that would have a positive impact on our quality of life, health and economic vitality for years to come.”

The new proposal did gain the support of Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin.  Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson said she, too, could support the fee increase, if it will support programs that residents in her ward use, such as large-item pick-up, neighborhood clean-ups and leaf collection.  Ward 5 Ald. Sam Cahnman said he is talking to his constituents about the fee increase. He supports part of the ordinance that calls for recycling to be offered at apartment complexes upon the owner’s request, but said it needs to be strengthened by establishing a way to notify residents of this option. Ward 8 Ald. Kris Theilen said he supports the increase, since the services provided aren’t covered by the current fee. He said he can support collecting the fee through the utility bill “as long as we don’t have to pay for a major overhaul of the billing system to get it.”

Read the full story at…

SJ-R Opinion: waste haulers snuff out real trash reform

By The Editorial Board
The State Journal-Register
Posted Dec 05, 2012

It looks as if Springfield’s waste haulers have successfully snuffed out a progressive ordinance that would bring the city’s trash pickup standards up to the 20th century.

Instead, Mayor Mike Houston has introduced an inferior ordinance that would transfer billing responsibility for recycling, yard waste and large item pick up from the haulers to the city.

It’s unclear today whether the haulers will oppose Houston’s ordinance and wage a campaign of misinformation against it, as they did against the ordinance sponsored by Ald. Cory Jobe and Ald. Doris Turner that would have assigned responsibility for trash billing to the city, ensuring every resident has pickup.

Houston’s ordinance does not go far enough, but we must reluctantly support it because the city’s costs for recycling, yard waste and large item pickup exceed what residents are being charged.
The fee would go from 50 cents to $1.50. The current fee only raises $188,000 when the costs for recycling, yard waste removal and large item pickup are $530,000. Other tax revenue has subsidized those services, a bad fiscal practice that the city council should end.

“If we are going to continue important community projects like the large-item pickup, which allows residents to have large items picked up at no cost, the recycling fee needs to be increased,” Houston said.

Houston is correct, but that does not eliminate the need for true reform of the city’s trash pickup system. Too many residents in parts of the city do not have trash pickup and dump their garbage in alleys and on other residents’ property, if they even remove it in the first place.

It has become a public health issue, just as much as abandoned and dilapidated buildings have become. Yet aldermen have not objected to two successive mayoral administrations’ aggressive effort to tear down these structures, while at the same time obstructing progress on making sure every city resident has trash pickup.

“For too many years, we ignore the problems, and the problems never go away and the costs continue to increase,” Jobe said.

While Jobe and Turner have withdrawn their comprehensive trash reform ordinance for now, we hope they keep the heat on their fellow aldermen in the coming months and continue to discuss the issue with the waste haulers. Too many aldermen think only of their own ward and not the good of the entire city when they vote on ordinances. The trash issue is another example. The status quo remains unacceptable and a detriment to having a beautiful city of which residents can be proud.


Monday, November 26 – ICON Monthly meeting

7pm First Church of the Brethern.

Remember we’ll hold elections at our last meeting of the year (12/17/12) for chairmen, vice chairmen, parliamentarian, and one at-large position. If you’re interested in serving as a member of the Steering Committee please let us know at the  next meeting.

We’ll also need to collect membership dues next week so everyone wanting to vote for officers is a current member in good standing. (attached)

Hope you all have a enjoyable Holiday weekend. Look forward to seeing you next Monday.

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Learn the Truth About the Proposed Garbage Ordinance

As reported in the SJ-R, local Waste Haulers are spreading misinformation in at attempt to sway the Springfield City Council to abandon ordinance changes that would help clean up Springfield by ensuring all residents have garbage service. “Lake Area’s letter and website is filled with scare tactics and factual inaccuracies intended to provoke and enrage senior citizens who are on a tight budget… ”  — The State Journal-Register, Our Opinion, October 5, 2012

Our garbage page has more information on the problem, the proposed solution, and an extensive list of questions and answers.
Find out the truth on our Garbage page…

Wed, Sept 26 – Town Hall Meeting: Changes to City Garbage

ICON is sponsoring three town hall meetings to discuss the changes proposed in the ordinance:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 26: 7 to 8:30 p.m., South Side Christian Church, 2600 S. MacArthur Blvd.
  • Thursday, Sept. 27: 6 to 8 p.m., Wanless Elementary School, 2120 E. Reservoir St. (Also a Ward 3 community meeting)
  • Thursday, Oct. 4: 6 to 8:30 p.m., Dove Conference Center, Prairie Heart Institute, 619 E. Mason St.

Read more about the changes…

Thurs, Sept 27 – Town Hall Meeting: Changes to City Garbage Pickup

ICON is sponsoring three town hall meetings to discuss the changes proposed in the ordinance:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 26: 7 to 8:30 p.m., South Side Christian Church, 2600 S. MacArthur Blvd.
  • Thursday, Sept. 27: 6 to 8 p.m., Wanless Elementary School, 2120 E. Reservoir St. (Also a Ward 3 community meeting)
  • Thursday, Oct. 4: 6 to 8:30 p.m., Dove Conference Center, Prairie Heart Institute, 619 E. Mason St.

Read more about the changes…

Thurs, Oct 4 – Town Hall Meeting: Changes to City Garbage Pickup

ICON is sponsoring three town hall meetings to discuss the changes proposed in the ordinance:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 26: 7 to 8:30 p.m., South Side Christian Church, 2600 S. MacArthur Blvd.
  • Thursday, Sept. 27: 6 to 8 p.m., Wanless Elementary School, 2120 E. Reservoir St. (Also a Ward 3 community meeting)
  • Thursday, Oct. 4: 6 to 8:30 p.m., Dove Conference Center, Prairie Heart Institute, 619 E. Mason St.

Read more about the changes…

Recycling Resources


At the July, 2012 ICON meeting, Abby Walden, new Director of Recycling for Springfield, Joan Walters, moderator of the Zero Waste program, and Marie Streenz, Community Relations Director for Midwest Fiber, a privately owned recycling (harvesting) company in central Illinois offered a “vision” of seeking “zero waste” that has become an integral part of the ICON vision.

The following is a quote received from Fred Puglia, “Vision Is the Art of Selling What is Invisible to Others”… Jonathan Swift

Joan and Marie have provided their information for our use:

A Brief History of Recycling by Joan Walters, moderator of the Zero Waste program.

Recycling Works from Marie Streenz, Community Relations Director for Midwest Fiber
The role of the recycling industry in the zero waste economy with an inside look into a Material Recovery Facility.

Midwest Fiber still considering drop-off sites

Tim Landis, SJ-R, August 20, 2012

  A drop-off recycling facility in Springfield remains a possibility, says Mike Shumaker, vice president of operations for Midwest Fiber Recycling.  The company took over collection and processing of recyclables through the Green Business Network of Springfield in June. Network coordinators said the previous partner, DTK, was unable to accommodate the growing volume. As part of the new partnership, a drop-off facility at 11th and Madison streets closed.

“We’re definitely looking,” said Shumaker. “It probably would include a building and processing center, and would create some jobs.” Midwest just marked the one-year anniversary of a new, single-stream recycling facility in Normal. In the first year, more than 49.1 million pounds of recycled material was processed, according to the company.


Green Business Network of Springfield
The Green Business Network of Springfield is holding a membership drive to expand to a critical mass in order to achieve their goals.  If you join the GBNS now, you can still do so for $25 – membership fees will increase this fall.  Please consider joining the GBNS and reach out to your friends, acquaintances, and colleagues in our community to ask them to join GBNS and support recycling in Springfield.

GBNS active projects include:

  • Recycle Springfield
  • Green Certification
  • Better Bag Project
  • Green Procurement
  • Battery Project

Description of the benefits of membership
GBNS membership form website

Please join and spread the word about GBNS!

Illinois Green Economy Network
Adapted from Wynne Coplea’s presentation to the Citizen’s Club of Springfield 7/27/2012:
Benefits of Zero Waste in Action:

  • Resources saved
  • Service $$ expenses saved
  • Greenhouse gasses reduced (see EPA WARM model)
  • Community sectors engaged
  • Participants take personal responsibility for their own materials/choices
  • Improved community image
  • Attractive to young professionals

Zero Waste Program Possibilities:

  • Maximum reuse, maximum reduced
  • More recycling, greater number/type items, greater number/type of collection bins
  • Composting, including Food Scraps (Soil Production)
  • Responsible reuse/repair & recycling of special items, e.g. electronics, household waste
  • Less landfilling; virtually no incineration
  • Remember: “A big enough pile of anything is worth something to somebody!”

Read more at the IGEN website:
Download / view the slide deck from the presentation 7/27… (PDF 2.6mb)

Contact IGEN:
Wynne Coplea, Director of College Partnerships
IL Green Economy Network




ICON Meeting Monday, July 30th

To ICON Members and Participants

The July ICON Meeting will be held next Monday the 30th at the First Church of the Brethren, Ash and Yale, 7 p.m.

If you missed the Citizens Club program on “Zero Waste” Friday morning, you’ll have a chance to review and discuss some of the main points of that presentation at our meeting Monday evening. Abby Walden, new Director of Recycling for Springfield, will be joined by Joan Walters, moderator of the Zero Waste program and Marie Streenz, Community Relations Director for Midwest Fiber, a privately owned recycling (harvesting) company in central Illinois.

It is this “vision” of seeking “zero waste” that has become an integral part of the ICON Ordinance Review Committee’s recommendations for changes in the current garbage collection process. The following is a quote received from Fred Puglia. “Vision Is the Art of Selling What is Invisible to Others”..Jonathan Swift
This is ICON’s challenge! We must educate and convince 6 aldermen that removing garbage and waste from every residential property is a responsibility of the City, one to be administered and controlled by the City.

Look forward to your input on this extremely important issue!

In addition, Mark Cullen, Corporation Counsel, will provide an update on recent legal action and the huge increase in fines and citations related to boarded and problem properties.


Alderman Joe McMenamin wanted to make sure you were aware of the Weekly Docket Report of Housing cases scheduled for Municipal Court each week, with Ward # location of each address. This is information available to
Aldermen, local neighborhood associations (particularly in older neighborhoods), and individuals that wish to monitor and follow up regarding problem properties in their areas. He is trying to get it uploaded on a weekly
basis to the City’s Web site, to make the Report as widely available as possible to interested groups and individuals. I personal use this report all the time for Enos Park and concur that it is extremely important. Check with
your aldermen to help get this report.


ICON Monthly Meeting Monday, June 25th

To ICON Members and Participants

We will hold our next ICON meeting Monday, June 25th, 7 p.m., at the First Church of the Brethren, Yale and Ash. Mark Cullen, city attorney, will join us to review new language in the Nuisance Abatement Ordinance which is on the July 3rd agenda for final passage. The new language should strengthen the position of the police department and city legal to bring and enforce legal action against individuals involved in repetitive violations of city code. This ordinance, in addition to the boarded property ordinance approved earlier, will provide a one two punch to reduce problem properties which have plagued the older neighborhoods.

During a press conference held Thursday morning, Mayor Houston emphasized his commitment to be more aggressive against landlords who allow their properties to deteriorate and become overgrown with weeds. He has initiated a very proactive approach to problems that have blighted the neighborhoods. Housing inspectors have increased the number of citations they have issued from 469 in 2011 to 1,354 during the same time period this year. All of this reflects the type of changes we have been seeking from the city ever since ICON was formed two years ago.

We encourage you to join us next Monday to review the effect of these changes on our neighborhoods.


P.S. Go to city website and check on ordinance 2012-227



Neighbors Join in Modest Efforts to Embrace Abandoned Properties

Residents in neighborhoods that make up the Near Northwest and West Side [of South Bend, Indiana] — treasure troves of vernacular architecture — describe what is happening to help solve the abandoned property problem as nothing short of “a movement.” Almost everyone knows someone who bought a deteriorating property on his or her block, with civic duty being part of the financial calculus.

“We’ve had this problem for a long time,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But, he added, “I think there’s definitely an uptick in people’s readiness to be part of the solution.”

Not far from the Portage project, Kathy and John Oxian were checking last week on three vacant houses they purchased at recent tax sales — one for as little as $750 — to avoid the prospect of demolition on their block of Sancome Avenue. And Connie and Tom Tooley were clearing a lot they bought from the city for $25. Their hope is to create a pocket park adjacent to downtown.

A former mayor, Stephen Luecke, bought a foreclosed property on his street, two doors down from his own 100-year-old home on Leland Avenue. He fixed it up and rented it.

“One of the challenges here is that property is so affordable, it’s hard to buy a house, fix it up and get back what you put into it,” Mr. Luecke said. “But we do have a core of people who love our old housing.”

In recent years, cities and counties across the country have increased their efforts to try to either maintain or demolish blighted properties in the wake of the mortgage foreclosure crisis. And federal programs designed to help stabilize neighborhoods are increasingly common — indeed, several are active in South Bend alone. But what makes South Bend’s methods interesting is the extent to which ordinary people of ordinary means are using their own hands and pocketbooks to be part of the solution to a complex problem.


Watch the video…

Read the full story at…

ICON Monthly Meeting March 26, 7pm

Our ICON meeting will be next Monday, March 26th, 7 p.m., at the First Church of the Brethren, Yale and Ash – SDAT Steering Committee

I have invited Lisa Stott, Chuck Pell and other members of the SDAT Steering Committee, Victoria Ringer, and Michael Higgins, to explain how the neighborhoods encircling the downtown area can contribute to increasing the number of people who work, live, and play in the central core of the City. Whether its changes in traffic flow, enhanced walking and biking facilities, incentives for neighborhood retail development, promotion of unique history and architecture, or more aggressive marketing of inner city neighborhoods as bedroom communities for downtown, each of our neighborhoods has something special to offer.

SDAT Bus Tour, Group Sessions & Public Hearings in may

On Monday, May 7th there will be a bus tour to orient the 10 members of the Sustainable Design Assessment Team to downtown Springfield. Last month members of the ICON Steering Committee took 3 members of the SDAT group on a tour of the neighborhoods. The upcoming tour will concentrate more on the downtown however we want the surrounding neighborhoods to provide information we will give to the Team that describes the neighborhood and how it can contribute to increasing the viability of downtown. I’ve attached an example of how we would describe Enos Park.

In addition to the tour there will be a series of small group sessions and public hearings over a three day period (5/7-9/12). We hope you will clear your schedule for this project.

City Mowing Bids

We’ll also have an update on the mowing bids with the City. There will be a meeting in the Council chamber, noon, Wednesday the 28th. Final application bids are due Friday the 30th by 2 p.m. See you next Monday.


Creating Inner City Suburbs: Blots

Read about the process of “blotting” – homeowners taking possession of adjacent abandoned property to expand small city lots into suburb-sized “blots”.

Enterprising homeowners are changing the landscape in many depopulated cities, bringing the look of spacious suburbs to abandoned urban neighborhoods.  For less than the cost of an airplane ticket, in some instances, owners can acquire lots next door to create their own oasis, complete with pools, courtyards or even orchards. Cities, meanwhile, are spared the upkeep of these properties.  “I think it’s a good strategy” for our 60,000 vacant lots, says Marja Winters, deputy director of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department. “In a lot of them, there’s no interest, so why not put them in the hands of citizens that are going to own it and care for it?”

This type of side-yard expansion, once expensive and time-consuming, has taken off in recent years as cities have foreclosed on abandoned properties, putting them in a land bank to be sold to interested parties.

How blotting works
The process of acquiring vacant lots around an owner’s property is different in every city and can take anywhere from 90 days to nine months, depending on the process and approvals necessary.  Owners, in most cases, must demonstrate ownership of their own property and prove that it is up to code and that they have the means to maintain it. They also must inform the city of their plans for the lot they wish to acquire. Many cities require these lots to be fenced in, and some will provide fencing material.

What does a blot look like?
These blots run the gamut from two small lots to four or five, and can take up most of a city block.  For some, the extra space has provided a place to put in a wheelchair ramp or a raised garden bed, or allowed for the planting of trees for privacy. Others have prompted large additions such as a new wing or a move to change the orientation of the house to face away from the street and to a central garden.

The problem with blots
Of course, larger lots don’t solve the problems that some of these emptied-out neighborhoods have with crime, and they can’t replace prime amenities, parks or good schools.  Gethers, who moved to the neighborhood in the early 1990s when every house was occupied, still doesn’t like having a vacant house across the street and empty lots next to her, but she says so far there has been no vandalism or vagrants.  “We would really love to have neighbors” move in there, she says.  Without much oversight from the city or neighborhood groups, some side-yard expansions have wound up as car parks or places for people to store their junk, Dewar says.

Changing the urban footprint?
It remains to be seen just how much of an impact blotting will have on the urban landscape in cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and New Orleans. Right now, these big lots make up just a small fraction of the tens of thousands of vacant lots the cities own in these areas. Many blighted sections of these cities are so filled with apartments and renters that there’s not enough vacant land, or non-landlord owners, to create blots.  Time will tell just how much blots bring up property values in the areas where this expansion has been allowed. Harris looks at it this way: “You can actually sell a house now on this street.”

Read the full story by Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate

Download the PDF…
Read the full story on MSN Real Estate…

SSCRPC – Regional Comprehensive Plan – your input needed!


The Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission invites you to participate in the development of a Regional Comprehensive Plan.

There are two ways for you to be involved in this process:
1. Attend one of three community workshops to tell us your concerns, values, and desires:
March 8th – 6:00 pm
Sangamon Co. Dept. of Public Health
2833 South Grand Avenue East
Springfield, IL 62703


Download the workshop flyer…

February 27 Membership Meeting

ICON Members and Participants:
Our February meeting will be next Monday (2/27), 7 p.m., at the First Church of the Brethren, Yale and Ash. Mark Mahoney will be our guest. He will bring us up to date on early results of the new ordinance regarding boarded property. He will also identify the city’s priorities for infrastructure projects included in his proposed budget for Public Works. If approved, it would double last year’s budget.

Following our meeting last month, members of the ICON Steering Committee hosted a bus tour around the city for three members of SDAT. These three are part of a larger team that will be surveying the downtown area later in May. They were here to get an overview of Springfield in an effort to find ways to get more people to work, live, and play in the inner core of the City. The surrounding neighborhoods, most of whom are active members of ICON, will be included in the final study.

The full team of 8 to 10 professional people from around the country will return May 7-9 for three days of meetings and analysis. ICON has been asked to arrange another bus tour for the entire group. Individually, we should all keep those dates open to participate in a series of group sessions and public hearings. More information will be forthcoming!

Just a reminder that Thursday is the last scheduled hearing on the 2013 budget. It should provide a great deal of insight as to how each aldermen will try to balance the cost of basic services with jobs for public employees.

Look forward to seeing you next week.

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ICON Members Get Budget Details from Director McCarty

The ICON membership was provided information and insight into the 2013 proposed budget by Bill McCarty, Director of the Office of Budget & Management, at the January ICON meeting. The proposed budget reflects an emphasis on repaying old debts and doubling the funds for infrastructure. The budget for the Corporate fund, which is only one of several funds making up the city’s entire account, projects $111.6 M of revenue and has been given to the aldermen as balanced.

Director McCarty indicated OBM is anticipating 1) delayed State Income Tax from 2012 will be collected and attributed to 2013, and 2) a specific grant for firefighting equipment will both provide some of the new funding for a balanced budget. The $1.6 M delayed State Tax and $1.2 M SAFER grant plus a small (1.5%) anticipated increase in the 2013 Sales Tax figures, coupled with a reduction of $639,000 of staff expenses, as recommended in the Maximus report, is projected to put the city in a position to repay the two ongoing debts and still allocate $8 M for streets and sidewalks.

Although the SAFER grant provides for new fire trucks, the budget does not reflect any new funding for police or fire staff. However, approximately 20 police officers will be called up to start the year long process of qualifying for assignment. This will not increase the total number of police officers but fill anticipated openings caused through fruition.

Joe McMenamin, Ward #7 alderman, reminded the members that there were going to be a series of public hearings at 5:30 p.m. on February 2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 16th. You can find a detailed report for the 2013 budget on the City’s website:
Overview of proposed budget…
City of Springfield page to download entire budget…

Following the presentation the membership unanimously approved a By Law change related to the number of positions on the Steering Committee and the election process. Once approved the following members were elected to the new positions: Karen Jacobs, Parliamentarian, filling the last year of Jen Aholt’s term; Carol Kneedler and Polly Poskin, new At Large positions.

The next ICON membership meeting will be held Monday, February 27th. The public is invited. If you want to join ICON, individual membership is $20. You can join at the meeting or get an application from our website.

Enos Park area rates 68 in ‘Walkability’

The State Journal-Register
Posted Feb 04, 2012

Expect to hear a lot about a WALKABLE COMMUNITY in the next few months. Springfield, as a rule, isn’t.  We are more of a “car-dependent” city.

Members of the Sustainable Design Assistance Team pointed out the city generally is walking-challenged during an initial two-day visit last week to downtown Springfield. By extension, it is hard to get people to live downtown if a pharmacy, a clothing store or especially a supermarket is not within walking distance.

There is a website — — that rates communities, ZIP codes and even addresses on “walkability.” The scale is zero to 100. Higher is best. A score of 70 and up is given to walkable communities.  If the score is below 50, reach for the car keys. The city of Springfield scored 43.

“It’s based on proximity to a grocery store or proximity to basic social services, or to the dry-cleaner and mass transit. It takes all the factors and calculates them,” said Erin Simmons, director of design assistance for the American Institute of Architects.  AIA is providing aid to the study team. The group is scheduled to return to downtown this spring for a formal survey and to make recommendations.

“I live in the middle of (Washington) D.C., and I think I live in 94 percent walkable community,” said Simmons. “As a case in point, I drive my car once a month.”

OK, Springfield is not Washington, D.C. But some neighborhoods do much better than others. Here is a random, completely unscientific sample:

  • Downtown historic district had the highest score at 90; it was rated a “walker’s paradise.”
  • Enos Park area: 68.
  • Douglas Park neighborhood: 68.
  • Glen Aire subdivision: 60.
  • Jerome, Leland Grove and Washington Park scored 40-55.
  • Village of Southern View gets a 46.

AIA members acknowledged the scores are more fun than science, but the point is that even car-dependent cities can improve.


Read the full story at the…

Thanksgiving Message from Steve

To ICON Members and Participants

Had a great meeting last month! Mark Cullen provided a lot of insight into his philosophy and strategy to eliminating blight in Springfield. As he indicated, the key will be in the enforcement.

Our next meeting will be Monday, November 28th after the Thanksgiving weekend. I hope all of you will be able to clear that date. Our 2011 year ends in December, please come ready to pay $20 for your 2012 dues. We will prepare a slate of officers for the 2012 Steering Committee to be voted on at the December meeting which I propose be held on Monday, December 19th, before the Christmas weekend. I also want to confirm if we are still interested in adding two at large positions on the Committee. If so, we’ll need to amend the current By Laws, vote on the change in January, and then confirm two at large representatives if the membership votes for those additions.

For those of you looking for a delicious treat this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to participate in the Enos Park Thanksgiving Pie Sale. In addition to five different pies, we will have half pound bags of Starbuck’s Thanksgiving Blend Coffee for $7. A $13 pie and Starbuck’s coffee will make the perfect gift for the host of your Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve attached an order form to copy and mail, or just call the Enos Park “pie hotline”!

Have a great holiday!


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P.S. Also find attached a pictorial review of some of our 2011 Enos Park highlights.

Pizza Party

To ICON Members and Participants

We will hold our ICON meeting one week early on Monday, October 24th because of Halloween. We’re also starting a half hour earlier at 6:30 p.m. to have pizza and celebrate the Council’s support to increase fines and set limits on boarded properties. We appreciate the support of aldermen Edwards, Lesko, Theilen, and Griffin, as well as Gail, Doris, Cory, and Sam who have actively participated in our ICON meetings and discussions over the last year. In addition, Mark Cullen, Corporation Counsel, will join us to review some of the city’s efforts to help eliminate blight and other problems common to the older neighborhoods.

Monday is also the day IDOT and FRA are hosting the open house at the Prairie Capital Convention Center (lower level) from 4 to 7 p.m. for public input regarding the potential route alternatives for high-speed rail service from Chicago to St. Louis. Drop by there after work, give them a piece of your mind, then come to the First Church of the Brethren at Yale and Ash and have pizza with your friends.

See you then!


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PS Please send me a “I’ll be there!” e-mail, so we know how much pizza to order.

A Note From Steve

To ICON Members and Participants

Last Tuesday the ordinance promoted by ICON regarding increased fines and time limits on correcting violations was introduced by Cory Jobe, Doris Turner, Gail Simpson, and Kris Theilen at the Council meeting. This coming Tuesday, October 11th, 5:30 p.m. the Committee of the Whole will review the ordinance for final passage on Tuesday, October 18th. I hope all of you will clear your schedules to attend next Tuesday’s hearing. It would also be helpful if you would contact your aldermen to seek his/her support in establishing these proposed guidelines to eliminate problem properties and the blight they bring to our neighborhoods. For the exact language go to the City’s website, click on Government, City Clerk, City Council Agenda. Go to the Oct 4th Agenda and scroll down to First Reading 2011-390 which shows all of Chapter 170. Scan through this Chapter for underlined sections which has the new language being proposed. Hope to see you there next Tuesday.

If you’re looking for a change of pace this weekend, come join us this Saturday, October 8th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for the Enos Park Urban Pioneer Tour. We will be unveiling 7 of the boarded properties currently being land banked by the Enos Park Development LLC. We’re looking for some Urban Pioneers who are interested and qualified in helping us renovate these properties and revitalize the neighborhood. In addition there will be 3 privately owned properties open for your review include the latest Old Neighborhood Rehab project almost completed at 630 North 5th Street. The Tour starts at the Springfield Art Association (700 North 4th Street). Check in at the registration desk, get your map and description of the properties. There will also be representatives from lending institutes, Habitat for Humanity, Robert Morris University, and Enos Park Development LLC to answer your questions about financing, affordable housing, design standards, and criteria to qualify for these properties. I’ve attached the October edition of Enos Park Banner. The lead article provides more information about the Urban Pioneer Tour. Hope to see you Saturday….dress accordingly!

Steve Combs

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Sustainable Springfield

Sustainable Springfield, Inc. will host two presenters on Wednesday, September 21 from 6:30 – 8:00pm at the Carnegie Room North of the Lincoln Library, Seventh and Capitol Streets. The meeting is free and open to the public. The first speaker will be Sue Kemp with Decatur Is Growing Gardens (DIGG). DIGG is a gardening effort to create learning and job training opportunities through growing vegetables and bringing neighborhoods together. Their mission is to enrich and to nourish the Decatur-Macon County community by helping those who are hungry and who want to work to grow their own food — especially those who are socially, developmentally, or economically disadvantaged. The second speaker is Frank Calaway of West Bloomington Revitalization Project. As a revitalization task force, this group is committed to neighborhood revitalization efforts, which will serve as a model of change for other neighborhoods in the Bloomington-Normal area, and to empower our neighbors and fellow community members during this exciting process.

For more information, contact Melody “Mel” LaMar at 217.220.6206.

Ordinance Proposal

Below is the list of time lines and fees that are being proposed.

Registration of Rental Properties

30 days to register rental property with the city at the start
of the fiscal year.
Owners contact information required and property
manager’s contact information if the owner doesn’t
live in Sangamon County.

Registration Fee – Free

Late or Improper registration – $500 fine

Correction of external and internal code violations 60 days to correct first violation – $200 fine 60 days to correct 2nd violation – $400 fine 60 days to correct 3rd violation – $600 fine 180 days of uncorrected violations – placard uninhabitable Uninhabitable property must be boarded and registered with city

Uninhabitable property/boarded registration 1st year registration – $2,000 fee 2nd year registration – $4,000 fee* After 2 years of being boarded property will be down zoned
to R-1 single family
3rd year registration of boarded property – $6,000 fee

Foreclosure Property with city liens equal to 70% of assessed value
will be subject to foreclosure

Property uninhabitable for 3 years is subject to foreclosure

ICON Monthly Meeting June 27th 7pm

The Monday, June 25th meeting will be held at the Assisi Conference Center in the Main building of St John’s Hospital. The Assisi Center is right next to the hospital library. There is convenient parking in the garage at Carpenter and North 9th Street.

We are anticipating a number of aldermen will attend and review with us the proposal to eliminate problem properties. The recent SJ-R article was related to the 1st of three phases the ICON Ordinance Review Committee has recommended be implemented to help eliminate problem properties in our neighborhoods. The other two dealing with registration of rental property and foreclosure are yet to be introduced.

Mayor Houston reconfirmed his campaign commitment to eliminate boarded properties at Friday’s Citizen Club meeting. The process he outlined was identical to what we have reviewed and supported at our ICON meetings over the last 12 months. I am optimistic that with his leadership and the council’s support most, if not all, of our concerns will be addressed.

If we have enough time Monday, I would also like to start a review of your ideas on how to best resolve the issue of garbage collection. I want to use our points of discussion for the Ordinance Review Committee to prepare some initial recommendations for our next meeting in July.

And finally we want to identify ICON members who will attend City Council meetings on a regular basis to speak on behalf of ICON and/or their neighborhood associations. We have had five aldermen actively participate in our meetings, we need to actively participate in theirs!

Meeting starts at 7 p.m. Come prepared to get involved.


ICON nuisance property ordinance

Today was a big day for ICON, with a front page article in the SJR highlighting our efforts to move forward with an ordinance that will increase fines for boarded properties, establish time limits for how long a property can remain boarded, and crack down on code violations that are not corrected within a specified period of time after being brought to the owner’s attention. We feel these issues are at the heart of many of the “problem properties” that disproportionally impact the older neighborhoods.

Alderman Cory Jobe is moving forward with introducing this first ordinance, and we are simultaneously working with several of the other aldermen on related ordinances that we believe are also important pieces of the puzzle. Of course, it will be important to have a resounding victory for our first ordinance, which should also make it easier to bring related topics before the city council.

For a preview of what may be discussed, see the Proposed changes at a glance on Alderman Jobe’s website…

What can you do to help?

  1. Right now, we believe this ordinance will be on first reading for Tuesday, July 5th. We will definitely want to have a good crowd at the council meeting as a show of support, so mark your calendar and we’ll confirm the date when it gets closer.
  2. Now would be a great time to send a letter to the editor regarding a specific property in your neighborhood that has been an ongoing problem. For example, since there are currently no limits on how long a property can remain boarded, perhaps there is a house near you that has been boarded for years, or one that had ongoing code violations that the owner has never corrected. Please take a few minutes to submit a letter to the editor about your specific area, and let’s demonstrate that this is a city wide problem.
  3. Call or email your alderman. While certain aldermen have been solidly behind us from the beginning, there are others who may be on the fence. We particularly want to reach out to Steve Dove, Frank Lesko, and Tim Griffin. We believe we have the votes to get this passed, but again, a resounding victory would send a strong message.

This is the whole reason that ICON was created, so it’s exciting to see our efforts start to come to fruition!

Michelle Higginbotham / Steve Combs

New Public Works Director Mahoney to speak at ICON meeting

Mark Mahoney, Springfield’s newly appointed Director of Public Works, will be the guest speaker at Wednesday’s meeting of the Inner City Older Neighborhood Coalition.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Bunn Auditorium of the Carol Jo Vecchie Women and Children’s Center in St. John’s Hospital. The public is invited.

As an alderman, Mahoney was involved in discussions related to infrastructure, garbage collection and safety issues in older neighborhoods.

From posted May 27, 2011

Mayor Houston Wins Third Term

Mike Houston will be serving his third term as mayor of Springfield. The ICON PAC wants to congratulate Mayor Houston on his victory. We are excited and pleased that the Mayor took such a strong position regarding the elimination of boarded properties during his campaign.

One of his earliest press conferences was held in front of a property identified as “unsafe and dangerous”, a term designating it as a property to be demolished. However, it took over three years to be torn down. His commitment to eliminating this type of problem, which plagues many of the neighborhoods in the city, is reflected in his plan to assign legal staff specifically to concentrate on problem properties.

The ICON Ordinance Review Committee is ready to recommend a series of steps to systematically remove the problem properties. They include the registration of all rental property, increased fines and specific time limits on correcting code violations, increased fees for boarding registrations, and implementation of foreclosure proceedings. Property obtained by the city through foreclosure will be given to approved not for profit organizations to demolish or revitalize for single family ownership.

The ICON plan parallels many of the proposals presented by Mayor Houston and we look forward to working with him and the new City Council to bring this effort to fruition.

ICON Members Win Aldermanic Seats

The ICON PAC is pleased and proud to announce that four of its dues paying members have been elected to serve on the Springfield City Council for the next four years. Doris Turner (Ward 3), Sam Cahnman (Ward 5), Cory Jobe (Ward 6), and Joe McMenamin (Ward 7), have all been active participants in reviewing and discussing solutions to problems of the inner city older neighborhoods. Gail Simpson (Ward 2), who was unopposed in the recent election, has also been involved with the ICON program from day one.

ICON, formed in March of 2010, has been reviewing nine common problems identified by 11 neighborhood associations at their first meeting. Since then, over 70 different individuals representing 20 associations have participated in the monthly meetings. An Ordinance Review Committee has been preparing recommendations to present to the City Council that will enact stronger language or new ordinances to eliminate the blighted conditions in the older neighborhoods.

With the help of these five aldermen, ICON hopes to get the unanimous support of the Council to revitalize the older neighborhoods and thereby enhance the image, safety, and quality of life for the entire city.

ICON will also seek the continued input of those candidates who were not elected but have attended our meetings and expressed interest in our common issues, including ICON members Sheila Stocks-Smith and Michael Higgins.

ICON Celebrates First Birthday

ICON celebrated its first birthday at the March 28th meeting by announcing its proposed program to eliminate problem properties in the older neighborhoods. The coalition of Inner City Older Neighborhoods first met March 2010 with 19 representatives from 12 neighborhoods. Since the first meeting 71 individuals; neighborhood representatives, city and county officials, aldermen, and candidates for city administration have participated in the monthly ICON meetings.

At the first meeting neighborhood representatives identified nine of their most pressing common problems. Five of the top seven were associated with owners of rental property, those you live in those properties, and the structures themselves. An Ordinance Review Committee was selected to review Springfield’s current ordinances, those of neighboring communities (Peoria, Decatur, Rock Island, Bloomington), and the policies and procedures of the current administration. From this review a 3 phase, 7 step process has been proposed to eliminate the problem properties.

Problem properties are identified as those that

1) have 2 or more code violations for more than 60 days old

2) are unoccupied, unsafe and open to trespass

3) are a visual blight on the neighborhood

4) have two or more nuisance abatement violations within a 60 day period

5) lower the property value of neighboring property

The 3 phases to eliminate these problems start with the registration of all rental property. No registration fee will be charged, but the owner or a designated manager who resides in Sangamon County, if the owner does reside in Sangamon County, must file the appropriate paperwork before a predetermined date.

The second phase emphasizes specific time limits on the correction of external and internal code violations. Fines will be imposed starting at $200 per code violation and increasing by an additional $200 for each allocated 60 day work period. Property with violations not corrected within 180 days (3 sixty-day work periods) will be declared uninhabitable and boarded. Properties may also be boarded if there are six or more violations at any one time. When properties are boarded, boarded property registration fees of $2,000 for the first year, $4,000 for a second year, and $6,000 for the third will be levied against the owner. At the end of the second year of being boarded, problem properties will also be down-zoned to R1 for single family use only.

If, at the end of the third year, the violations have not been corrected, the city will initiate foreclosure proceedings. Foreclosure may be started before the end of the third year if city liens reach an amount equal to 70% of the assessed value of the property. Property secured by the city will be given to not-for-profit groups having the capability of renovating the property or demolishing and infilling with new construction.

At any time throughout this process, if the property owner corrects the violations and clears all financial obligations to the city, the property will be reinstated for rental use. A mandatory inspection program will be established to confirm property in violation of codes for more than 60 days meet code standards on a regular basis after the violations have been corrected.

Following a discussion of the proposed recommendations, members reviewed the positions taken by the aldermanic candidates at the March 3rd forum hosted by ICON, DSI, MBBA, and IPA. Refer to the voting positions of each candidate regarding the key issues in the recommendations (PDF download) on our Springfield Election 2011 page under the Political Power tab along with surveys, radio and print interviews, and candidate endorsements from other organizations.

ICON Seeks Candidate’s Positions

ICON Seeks Candidates’ Positions

Download the voting positions of each candidate regarding the key issues in the recommendations (PDF) on our Springfield Election 2011 page along with surveys, radio and print interviews, and candidate endorsements from other organizations.

Over 80 people attended the Citywide Aldermanic Forum hosted by ICON, DSI, MBBA, and IPA. Twelve of the 16 candidates running for aldermanic seats in six Wards answered questions posed by representatives from the four host organizations. By a show of hands the candidates identified their positions on 29 different questions related to 12 different issues. Although the candidates had been provided the issues before the Forum, the questions were new. As an elected alderman with more time to research specific proposals and ordinances, positions might change. However, results of the Citywide Forum provided interesting insight into issues that certainly will be brought before the City Council in the near future.

Regarding distressed and boarded property, 100% of the candidates supported the City using foreclosure proceedings to take control of problem properties, and 11 of the 12 candidates supported increasing the fines and putting a limit on how long properties could remain boarded. They also supported down zoning problem properties from multi-unit rentals to single family homes if landlords don’t correct violations within a year. When asked about establishing zoning overlays for redevelopment projects, such as East Springfield, MacArthur Boulevard, and Enos Park, the majority acknowledged they were unfamiliar with that process. After Michelle Higginbotham, Vice Chairmen of ICON and the lead representative of the Enos Park Master Plan, explained it was a way to address specific zoning and code issues for more effective revitalization of older neighborhoods without needing citywide changes, the candidates supported the concept 100%.

Issues gaining little support from the candidates were 1) a moratorium on city expansion, 2) limit on funding projects on the outer edges of the city, 3) mandatory construction of parking garages with all new development in the downtown area, and 4) a single hauler for citywide collection of garbage and trash. However, the vote was split 6 to 6 in having a single hauler for a specific section or area of the city, such as individual neighborhoods. Eight of the 12 candidates did support having a single billing agent, such as CWLP, for garbage collection.

In discussing various financial issues the candidates unanimously supported establishing new TIF Districts for both business and residential neighborhood redevelopment projects. They also agreed 10 to 2 that stakeholders within each TIF District should be included in the process of reviewing requests for funding, and Downtown TIF funds should be used as an incentive during the last 5 years of that funding program for internal renovation of empty office buildings to create more downtown residential space. They also voted 10 to 2 to dedicate corporate funds for new sidewalk construction, and 9 to 3 to re-appropriate the 2% hotel/motel tax specifically for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

In reviewing various social issues the candidates unanimously agreed that state and federal funds designated for the homeless in Springfield include services for those identified as chronically homeless, and additional funds should be sought for a full service day center. The candidates also supported payday loans not to exceed 36% which is what the Federal regulations are for veterans.

ICON Not Stopped by Storm


Even though the State government closed down Monday afternoon, January 31st, 24 ICON members and guest met to review issues regarding the older neighborhoods of Springfield. Included in the group were 3 mayoral candidates (Mike Houston, Bill McCarty, and Sheila Stocks-Smith), 6  aldermanic candidates (Sam Cahnman, Cameron Counts, Michael Higgins, Cory Jobe, Joe McMinamen, Kris Theilen) and one incumbent alderwomen, Gail Simpson. Many of the participants had just come from the City Council’s 4th Budget Workshop. There was a spontaneous discussion of the proposed budget with direct input from three of the current aldermen.

 The nine (9) common concerns itemized by the neighborhoods at the first ICON meeting were identified for the candidates and new guests. Those concerns, which are now the basis of ICON’s agenda, were reviewed with the help of the new Springfield ICON website. (  It was pointed out that 4 of the top 5 neighborhood concerns are related to the all inclusive issue of problem properties. 

The Ordinance Review Committee has met twice since we last discussed the issue of problem properties at our November meeting. The committee is prepared to move forward with recommendations to the City Council related to rental property registration, fines and time limits related to code violations, boarded housing fees, time limits for demolition, and foreclosure procedures. 

We are waiting for ordinances from city legal regarding a number of proposals from Treasurer Langfelder, specifically to establish a centralized data base and designation of the Treasurer’s office to coordinate collection and enforcement. 

The ICON Aldermanic Forum will be held Thursday, March 3rd, at the Dove Center at 7 p.m. Downtown Springfield Inc., MacArthur Boulevard Business Association, and Illinois People’s Action group will co-host the event with ICON. We are in the process of identifying the issues each group would like the candidates to address at the forum. 

Our next meeting is Monday, February 28th, 4 days before the Forum. Please reserve both dates.

ICON to Host Aldermanic Forum with DSI, MBBA, and IPA


The ICON PAC , in partnership with Downtown Springfield Inc., MacArthur Boulevard Business Association, and the Illinois Peoples Action group, will host a Citywide Aldermanic Forum, Thursday, March 3rd, 7 p.m., at the Dove Center, St. John’s Hospital. 

A series of issues and questions from the four host will be provided to each candidate two weeks before the event. The master of ceremonies will regulate time and opportunity for all candidates to speak to the issues. The candidates will be provided time at the end of the general discussion to summarize their candidacy.

The four organizations hosting the event are

ICON PAC, coalition of individuals lobbying for restoration of inner city older neighborhoods by addressing issues of  distressed properties, garbage collection, nuisance abatement

 DSI, works to preserve, promote and enhance Springfield’s historic central business district to help make downtown Springfield an ideal place to shop, work, visit, invest, and live.  

MBBA, supports welfare of all MacArthur Boulevard businesses and works to promote, develop and preserve MacArthur Boulevard as a desirable place to work, shop and live.

IPA, Illinois Peoples Action group lobbies for issues of homeless, night bus service, predatory lenders and increasing community reinvestment (CRA)


ICON Host Candidates at Holiday Meeting

 The December ICON meeting was held before the Holiday Season to meet and greet candidates for the April 5th city elections. There where over sixty attendees including three mayoral and six aldermanic candidates including the following


            Mike Coffey

            Mike Houston

            Sheila Stocks-Smith


            Cameron Courts

            Mike Higgins

            Cory Jobe

            Joe McMenamin

            Ryan Tozer

            Doris Turner

 ICON is working with the Citizen’s Club to coordinate a series of mayoral and aldermanic forums. ICON will also help coordinate meetings of the neighborhoods within each Ward.

 The ICON Ordinance Review Committee is comparing ordinances from Rock Island, Peoria, and Decatur regarding rental property registration, nuisance abatement, boarded property, foreclosure procedures, and garbage pickup. These issues will represent the platform to be presented to the candidates for their review.

ICON Officers Elected

November ICON PAC Meeting

ICON members unanimously confirmed the slate of officers recommended by the temporary Steering Committee. The ICON PAC officers for the next two years are

            Steve Combs, Chairman

            Michelle Higginbotham, Vice Chairman

            Jamie Adair, Secretary

            Bill Castor, Treasure

            Jen Aholt, Parliamentarian

The temporary Steering Committee recommended the addition of two (2) at large members. Steve asked Bill Castor to Chair the By Laws Committee and prepare changes to the by-laws for approval by the ICON membership. After discussing the current definition of a member, as relates to resident of Sangamon County versus Springfield, the By Laws Committee was asked to review this qualification. The group unanimously approved a recommendation to have a $20 individual membership fee, a $30 family membership, and a $200 life membership. Fourteen individuals purchased their membership (12 individual and 1 family) at the end of the meeting

Following a lengthy and productive discussion of the first step needed to resolve problem properties (i.e. registration and periodic inspection of rental property) the Ordinance Review Committee was asked to take the various options and prepare a summary report for the January meeting. Points to be clarified included

            1) what constitutes a rental property for the sake of this ordinance

                (residential vs. commercial, single unit vs. multiunit),

            2) what are the specific thresholds from which follow up action will be taken,

            3) what are the time limits and financial structure for violations of the ordinance

            4) what are the cost involved in initiating new inspection procedures.

Jen Aholt was asked to Chair a Candidate Forum Committee to set up a schedule and agenda for a series of public forums to be held by the ICON PAC in the three months leading up to the April elections. The Citizen Club will be hosting a public forum for mayoral candidates February 4th and March 25th. There are other anticipated meetings to be held by individual neighborhood associations.

ICON will invite all candidates to a meet and greet social December 13th at the Vinegar Hill Dublin Pub. A $10 charge will cover Horse shoes and drinks. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will replace the normal end of the month ICON meeting for December.

Carol Kneedler announced that the ICON website is up and running. Check it out at!

A good site is one that is constantly changing. That’s your job! Keep providing us new information, pictures, etc.

The next four months are extremely important in formulating the ICON platform for the improvement of our neighborhoods. We have a unique opportunity to not only shape the makeup of the city council with seven contested seats but also the leadership of city administration. Let’s not look back after the April elections and lament the fact we didn’t do enough to take control of the destiny of our own neighborhoods. Join with us by becoming an ICON PAC member. Bring the attached membership registration form with you to the Dec. 13th meeting or send it to ICON PAC c/o Bill Castor, Treasure, 600 E Adams, Springfield, IL 62701


As of the October 25th meeting the ICON Coalition is now the Springfield ICON PAC. Michelle Higginbotham (Enos Park) made the motion to except the Springfield ICON PAC by-laws which was seconded by Carol Kneedler (MBBA) and unanimously approved by 29 representatives from 15 neighborhood associations. With the addition of five new participants at the October meeting, ICON has now had 49 individuals representing 20 neighborhoods from six wards participate in this movement to find six votes on the Springfield City Council for neighborhood revitalization.

After the vote a temporary Steering Committee was established, as called for in the by-laws, to set up a date, time, and place to hold an election of officers of the Springfield ICON PAC. Initial Committee members include Higginbotham-Enos Park, Castor-Vinegar Hill, Schuering-Harrison Park, Vandiver-Hawthorne Place, and Combs-Enos Park.

After reviewing the steps taken by City legal to formulate new ordinances, Jen Aholt (Lincoln Park) recommended a committee be set up to study current ordinances and provide recommendations that the ICON PAC could support as part of its political platform for the coming municipal elections. A committee of 9 representatives was selected (Higginbotham-Enos Park, Castor-Vinegar Hill, McMinamen-Historic West, Jacobs-Old Aristocracy, Hunter-Iles Park, Poskin-Harvard Park, Adaire-Bunn Park, Schuering-Harrison Park, Combs-Enos Park).

The next ICON meeting will be held Monday, November 29th 7 p.m. at the First Church of the Brethren (Yale & Ash). We will 1) discuss the recommendations from the ordinance review committee regarding problem properties and 2) elect officers to the ICON PAC Steering Committee.

ICON Ready to Confront Problem Properties

We continue to increase the number of people participating in the ICON meetings. There were three new representatives at the September meeting which makes a total of 39 different participants representing 19 neighborhood associations from 6 wards.

Our next meeting will be Monday, October 25th, 7 p.m. at the First Church of the Brethren (Ash and Yale in Harvard Park). We encourage everyone who has attended at least one of the ICON meetings to join us for this special meeting. We will be voting on By Laws to formally organize the ICON Coalition into a PAC. We would like all of you to be part of that special event.

We will also have a member of city legal review with us some of the issues related to putting together city ordinances. Gail Simpson has spoken to Jennifer Johnson on our behalf regarding problem properties in our neighborhoods and how we can strengthen current ordinances or introduce new ones. As part of that issue Jennifer has offered to look up information about boarded properties. 

 Gail has also found an excellent source of information from other municipalities addressing vacant, problem properties.

Make sure you read through this material so you know what others are doing that we may also want to incorporate into our ordinances.

Go to  This page has 3 documents which provide an overview of nine tools that have proven most effective as municipalities have worked to reduce the negative impact of vacant properties. Each succeeding document (1,2,3) goes into more detail and provides more examples of ordinances being used by different municipalities.

How Can Municipalities Confront the Vacant Property Challenge?, and

3  How Can Municipalities Confront the Vacant Property Challenge? An Appendix to the Toolkit,

In an effort to strength our approach to resolving problem properties in Springfield, Gail, Mark, and Sam have indicated their willingness to review  different ordinances as part of the following three phased approach to resolving the problems:                                                                                    

1) registration and periodic inspection of rental property (Cahnman)                                  

2) increased fines and reduced time limits to correct violations (Mahoney)                          

3) initiate foreclosure procedures to acquire problem properties.  (Simpson)

Each alderman reviewed their initial thoughts on the specific steps and received feedback from the ICON participants.

Another issue ready to be reviewed is the results of a recent commission studying the new garbage pickup program.

The ICON website will soon be on line. The list of boarded properties to be  review at our meeting will be included on the ICON website in addition to a direct link to each neighborhood association site.

Remember we’re looking for 6 votes! It all starts with you being proactive! Gather information, pass it on to others, and then educate your aldermen.

Next ICON Meeting: 8/30 7pm First Church of the Brethern

Our next meeting will be Monday, August 30th, 7 p.m. at the First Church of the Brethren, Ash and Yale.

Jim Langfelder, City Treasure,  will join us to talk about some of the  recommendations he made to the City Council regarding ways to stay on top of money due the city and steps to take to collect fines and fees. 

We will also have an update from Jen Aholt regarding the possibility of ICON forming a PAC to carry out our political objectives.

Carol Kneedler and members of the ICON website committee will provide information about our new site.

Polly Poskin will review some of the issues that will be covered during the coming ICON meetings as a lead up to the elections next year.