Mayor Bill Crusinberry announced a renewed effort to address the problems caused by dilapidated buildings in Hoopeston during last week’s city council meeting.
Crusinberry asked the council to approve Joel Schuler as city compliance officer.
Schuler is a Hoopeston native who has been a member of the Hoopeston Auxiliary Police.
Crusinberry said Schuler will report to him and Police Chief Jim DeWitt in regards to compliance enforcement in the city.
Schuler does have a full-time job, Crusinberry said, so he will be mainly fulfilling his duties as compliance officers during evenings and weekends.
Filling this position was one step in Crusinberry’s efforts to have a renewed focus on addressing dilapidated buildings in Hoopeston.
Crusinberry said he plans on taking a more direct involvement with each dilapidated building the city is looking to address.
“I have a list of properties that will be following this same format,” he said.
Rather than the former approach of sending letters and waiting for a response, Crusinberry said the city will now require owners to appear in court and present their plans to either fix or demolish their properties to court. Failing to do so could then result in daily fines.
“Instead of bringing it to me, the very first step will be bringing it to the hearing officer,” he said.
Crusinberry said this will ensure that the first step of the matter will be on the court record.
One of the first properties Crusinberry is looking to address is the Downtown Motel.
Crusinberry said he has drafted a letter to the owner of the Downtown Motel notifying him that he would have to appear in court to answer for the condition of his building.
The letter is signed by DeWitt and has the chief’s letterhead on it as Crusinberry said this will serve to grab the owner’s attention.
“When they see the Hoopeston Police Department and the chief’s name on the top, people seem to respond faster,” he said.
Crusinberry said the Downtown Motel is an immediate issue because of the number of broken windows and doors present on the properties.
He said these present opportunities for vagrants to live in.
Crusinberry said the hearing officer will give the owner a set time frame to either remediate or demolish the property. Crusinberry plans to ask the hearing officer to institute higher than average daily fines to motivate the owner to address the situation.
The court hearing is set for Nov. 7.
In other business:
- The West Elm Street Motor Fuel Tax resurfacing project was completed on time.
Crusinberry said the project cost $6,000 less than what was budgeted in MFT funds, so the city opted to replace three damaged catch basins on the street using contractors and city employees.
- The council approved its annual membership fee of $150 for Keep Vermilion County Beautiful. The city had been asked to up its donation to the $1,000 corporate level, but the council opted to wait before making that change. Alderman Alex Houmes said the council had already budgeted for the $150 fee. He said they will consider budgeting more for the membership next year.
- The council approved a special public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 to give members of the public a chance to voice their opinions on the city possibly allowing businesses associated with recreational marijuana.
- Alderman Jeff Wise announced that the street and alley department’s fall clean-up will begin Oct. 21.
- Fast Lanes owner Doug Wagoner asked the city to consider revising its video gaming ordinance to allow for six machines per licensed business to reflect the change in the state law from earlier this year.
Wagoner said he was adding another machine to his business but it couldn’t be activated until the city approved the change in ordinance.
Crusinberry said the matter will be included on the council next agenda so it can be voted on.
The Hoopeston City Council will meet in a Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 9. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Hoopeston City Council will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at city hall.