Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to ICON’s February Meeting. Tamara Browning, journalism professor at Benedictine University and students from her Advanced Journalism Writing class were our special guests.They were observing the ICON meeting in the context of covering a government beat.
ICON Mission & Vision
ICON’s Mission and Vision, which had been extensively debated at the most recent Steering Committee meeting, were presented to the membership for discussion and approved. The Mission was approved as written, while the Vision statement was discussed in some detail. Steve Combs and Mark Anderson emphasized ICON’S role in promoting intentional residential and commercial development and holding the city accountable for meeting established zoning requirements. Polly Poskin promoted the concept of holding property owners accountable for maintaining properties and picking up garbage. Paul O’Shea put forward the concept that a liveable community is a lot about being walkable and that perhaps ICON’S biggest goal is a better quality of life for all Springfield citizens. The Vision Statement passed after the discussion points had been debated.
ICON’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Springfield residents in inner city older neighborhoods.
ICON preserves, improves and promotes older neighborhoods, whose residences and businesses reflect a commitment to a safe, attractive, viable, livable environment for residents and entrepreneurs.
ICON supports and partners with community leaders and promotes the election of government leaders who share ICON’s vision and who actively work to enhance the appeal of residential neighborhoods with intentional residential and commercial development.
Joe McMenamin, Ward 7 Alderman Joe Mc Menamin, Alderman from Ward 7, gave his assessment about the state of the ward and his vision for Springfield. He began his presentation by stating that he thought that ICON had the most potential for good among community organizations. Joe had a negative assessment of current conditions in older neighborhoods ringing the downtown area; they are either declining, or have the potential to decline. In his view, these neighborhoods are a drag on the entire city and hurt Springfield’s image with outsiders.
Joe then offered his arguments for a city residency requirement and proposed incentives for policemen and firefighters to live in older neighborhoods.
He stated that raising the sales tax rate for infrastructure improvements is a bad idea at this time because the city should first be tackling its expanding pension debt. Joe went on to say that the increase in sales taxes may drive more families to outlying communities, thus hurting the city’s tax base.
Joe emphasized his role in pushing for Administrative Search Warrants in 2011 to have the MacArthur Park Apartments inspected and cited for code violations. He defended a no vote on strengthening the city code and enforcing boarding registration because in his view, the fees were too steep.
Alderman Mc Menamin stated that he and his wife had purchased and renovated several pieces of property in older neighborhoods and promoted local incentives to strengthen neighborhoods, e.g., the Ward 6 Fund. Joe did admit that real improvements in older neighborhoods could approach $1 million.
Prior to a question and answer period, Joe pledged to accept no campaign funds from unions, developers or companies doing business with the city and asked other alderman to do the same.
Sharon Riffey, Chair of the City Council Committee, moderated the question and answer period and was joined by Mark Anderson in questioning the alderman.
In response to a question about where Springfield, could find additional financial resources, Joe stated that the city garage consolidation could save $1 million per year and a wage freeze could garner another $1 to 2 million in savings.
A question concerning his no vote on the modified garbage system promoted a firm reiteration that he would not support the change. Joe added that the city should not be the middleman.
Joe feels that the City Council and not the mayor should determine non-union city workers wage increases. Currently the mayor can grant increases by executive order.
ICON Focus and Action Items
- March 31st meeting – Bill McCarty -City Budget issues and Cory Jobe – Ward 6 issues and city vision.
- ICON has filed a FOIA request for the ward redistricting map.
- Earth Day celebration will take place April 26th, 10am -2pm at Lincoln Park with ICON staffing a booth.
- June 8th – ICON Neighborhood Picnic (Food, Music, games and displays). Details will be forthcoming.
- Transportation Enhancement study – report by Kevin Milhelcic. Two sub groups are working on ideas; 42 ideas being considered by Group 1, 26 ideas being evaluated by Group 2. Ideas will be refined over the next 4 meetings; many issues are pedestrian related.
- ICON Treasury: $1,983.05 (as of February 10th)
- SDAT Planning & Design Working Group – Architects and business owners are formulating ideas for downtown Springfield.
Prepared by Marty Vandiver – ICON Secretary