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home : news : north central illinois   April 29, 2016

7/24/2013 6:36:00 AM
Princeton council says no to roving council meeting sites

Lee Strubinger
Princeton Bureau Chief

PRINCETON —Princeton city manager Jeff Clawson has a special planning session planned for 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 29 in the council chambers. During the session,Clawsonsaid the public will hear several updates on issues affecting the community.

He said an update on Darius Miller Park will be a part of the session, but it’s not going to be a high priority. The city has begun renovations to the pavilion in the park, by “stripping it down.” That includes removing the wings and various wood structures attached to the pavilion. He said the city will remove the interior drop ceiling.

“Excavation work will be done within the park,” he added. “We will be removing the false hills in the park.”

Clawsonsaid the city is close to putting the finishing touches the depot parking lot next to the Amtrak station.

During last week’s city council meeting, Commissioner Ray Mabry said the group needs to be more proactive as a council by going out and looking at things as a group, such as the lagoon to see how it works, or Darius Miller Park. He said going separately in groups of one or two commissioners does not work.

“I think it’s important that we get more hands-on with what we’re doing. The budget’s tighter than ever and I think we need to go look at things,” Mabry said. “If at all possible, we want the community to be included.”

City Attorney John Isaacson said the city must bear in mind several legalities with taking meetings elsewhere. The meeting site has to be handicapped-accessible and there must be a way to record the meeting.

“All the things we have to do here for a meeting, you have to do there for a meeting,” Isaacson said.

Mabry made a motion that during the next regularly scheduled meeting, the council adjourn after regular business and reconvene at the Amtrak station/Darius Miller Park to do an on-the-ground discussion.

“I will second this because I made a motion similar to this a few months ago and never got a second,” Commissioner Joel Quiram said. “Darius Miller Park, as far as being accessible, you got the shelter, there’s handicap accessibility at the end of the shelter, there’s plenty of seating, and...”

“There are no bathroom facilities there though,” Commissioner Bob Warren interjected.

It was decided that there are port-a-potties at the park but those are not handicapped-accessible.

“There’s a lot of issues in the city and I think there’s a lot of things that we can do to make Princeton a much better place that isn’t going to cost a whole lot of money,” Quiram said. “To me, there is a lack of attention to detail. To me, aesthetics is everything. I agree with Ray... we should come together as a council.”

Warrensaid, “I think it’s a rather hard sell to have a meeting at any place to talk about aesthetics when we just talked about spending tons of money on infrastructure. I mean, do we really care what Darius Miller Park looks like when your basement’s full of sewage? I don’t think so.”

Mabry said the Amtrak station is a portal to the community.

“The past couple months (a group of people) have been going toDariusMillerParkand donating some time, cleaning it up and things like that,” Mabry said. “Commissioner Quiram and I, as well as some other individuals, have been emptying trash. I’m totally amazed every time I go up to the Amtrak station, the number of people from out of town that come into our community and are judging our community in the half an hour before the train arrives. I think that that’s a portal. We need to go look at that and really work hard to embrace and enhance the park. I agree that we have other issues, but it’s not going to cost us anything to walk through the park and go through the Amtrak station. .. People from out of town are making a judgment call on how we treat our community, where our pride is.”

Quiram added that the city’s street department is funded by sales tax dollars. “If people are coming to Princeton and we are not giving them an aesthetic looking beautiful city... It’s going to enhance our general fund. We rely on that general fund. We need people to come to Princeton to Sshop and return to Princeton and shop.”

The council voted to turn down the measure, with Mabry and Quiram voting ‘yes,’ and Commissioner Ray Swanson, Warren and Mayor Keith Cain voting ‘no.’

“I will meet anyone that wants to meet at the park. And I’m at the park several times,” Cain said. “You can look at me Ray; I’m down here.”

“Mayor Cain, I wasn’t being disrespectful, I’m just disappointed in general,” Mabry said.

“Some of us like to get our names in the paper and that,” Cain said. “I’m not the type of person, I’ve never done that. A lot of people do volunteer other than you and commissioner Quiram. There are people that volunteer every day on Main Street.”

“I certainly appreciate the hours you put in and I mean that with all sincerity,” Mabry added.

“I don’t want that, that’s beside the point,” Cain said. “I don’t even need that. … I try to go at night or early in the morning so no body sees me. That’s when I try to do it.”

 The NewsTribune Bureau County bureau office can be reached at, by phone at (815) 879-5200 or by fax at (815) 828-0627.

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