|Residents of the City of Galesburg may have the final say about the proposed sale of unused land around the former Regency Hotel.
Residents spoke at length to the Galesburg City Council Monday night about the idea. Aldermen on first reading formally heard the proposal they're being asked to turn down that would see two of three parcels around the hotel be sold, while the city keeps the third.
That's after they said during a work session two weeks ago they wanted to see all three parcels sold together instead.
There have been unconfirmed reports that a developer wants to tear down the hotel and build a new development, and that has Dover Lane resident Judy Olson concerned, particularly if the development is housing for Carl Sandburg College students.
"It will, no doubt, bring the value of our homes down, as there will be a few -- as always -- that won't take care of the building," Olson said. "In turn, the City of Galesburg won't do anything to lower our taxes, which are already high in our area, like many areas of Galesburg."
Other residents had urged the city keep all the land for possible future park space, or the expansion of Lakeside Recreation Complex, as was what the city wanted to do in keeping the third parcel.
Daniel Parish coaches a youth softball team, bringing several players with him, and told aldermen the youth of the community may just depend on the land being available to them.
"These young kids' future outweighs a dollar amount on what we can set forward," Parish said.
Resident Mike Kroll says he's glad more residents see it his way, that the best use of the land is future park or greenspace, and thinks aldermen need to start listening to what the people want.
"I think this is an important issue, and maybe, one of the most important votes that this council is going to make this year," Kroll said. "This gives people and the citizens of Galesburg a notion of where this city council sits with regard to their investment of the public infrastructure, including parks and recreation."
Mayor Sal Garza says the city is not just looking to make, as he put it, "a quick buck," in what otherwise is a very tight budget time.
"We're looking at the future," Garza said. "But, at the same time, we want to make sure that we can generate these gainful opportunities. We won't know that until we receive proposals, and we do get real information in terms of what a developer may want to do with this property, versus speculation."
The city council will vote on the original proposal June 7th.
To download the City Council's discussion on this proposal Monday night, CLICK HERE (mp3 format, approximately 21 minutes).
Aldermen Monday night did vote to provide a $50,000 grant to United Facilities so they can train over a hundred current employees, and hire 20 more over the next several years, on a new distribution system at their Galesburg food services plant.
Aldermen also elected Seventh Ward Alderman Mike Lummis as Deputy Mayor, turning down a nomination by the Sixth Ward's Wayne Allen to remain in the role.
Allen has served as deputy mayor under several mayors. Lummis' election was approved on a 5-3 vote.
(A map designed by the City of Galesburg indicating the property for sale, in red, around the Regency Hotel.)