By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
Get our mobile app
ROCKFORD — City Council members unanimously approved a contract Monday to build a new boat dock in downtown as part of a multifaceted plan to overhaul the look and use of Davis Park.
The council approved a $461,227 contract with Sjostrom & Sons, which is expected to complete the work by June. The project is paid for by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The new boat docks are one component of a makeover to Davis Park that started in mid-October with the demolition of the 106-year-old Lorden building, a seven-story structure tied to the city’s past knitting industry.
The plan calls for Davis Park to one day include a sun-tanning beach, multi-use trail, splash pads, canopy stage, skate park and a plaza with space for food trucks during special events.
The 7-acre park at 320 S. Wyman St. is the only park that the city of Rockford owns. City officials said demolishing the building was the first step to opening up the park for more activity.
The work Sjostrom was hired to handle consists of installing the floating boat dock on the Rock River, removing and replacing sidewalk on the riverfront, installing an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramp, removal and replacement of the concrete sea wall, hand rail installation, erosion control and other site restoration.
City Council roundup
Here’s a quick look at some of the other items approved Monday by City Council.
Incentives for business fixes
The incentive is available to repair properties inside seven tax-increment financing districts, each which has $150,000 available that’s designated for the program.
The program requires private investment from business owners, and the city will match whatever is spent up to a maximum of $25,000. The funds would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The program will launch in the first quarter of 2023.
Deadline extended for Barber-Colman deal
City Council voted unanimously to extend its self-imposed deadline to reach a redevelopment agreement with J. Jeffers & Co. to transform the vacant Barber-Colman property into hundreds of living spaces and multiple shops.
The deadline has been extended from Dec. 1 to March 1.
City officials say the company is continuing to make progress on its plans for the $400 million development, which would take place over roughly eight years, but more time is needed to finalize the financial agreement.
Developers have said they hope to start construction next year on the ambitious multi-year venture to create 964 living units and roughly 130,000 square feet of commercial space.
Property taxes remain flat
City officials said it represents the tenth consecutive year that the levy has been kept at approximately the same amount.
“I’m thrilled we are once again able to approve a balanced budget with no increase in property taxes,” Mayor Tom McNamara said news release. “I think it’s critical that we remain good stewards of tax dollars. I’m proud of our City Council and our staff for developing a budget that allows us to live within our means, while still providing essential services to our residents.”
The actual tax rate will be determined in spring by the Winnebago County Clerk’s Office after the Board of Review hears all challenges from property owners about the assessed value of their home or business.
Whether the amount you pay in property taxes to the city increases will largely depend on how the value of your home has changed. However, the amount is likely to increase because property values have been on the rise. The estimated increase in the taxable value of all property in the city is 9%, which could change after the Board of Review hears challenges.
The City Council also approved a 2023 budget with $193.1 million in general fund spending.
Road salt prices spike
City Council approved a contract to purchase road salt this winter at a cost of $86.09 per ton. That’s up 62% from %53.26 last year.
Road salt prices fluctuate from year to year, and part of the increase this year is because fuel costs for delivery are built into the per-ton price. However, it’s not the most expensive rate the city has ever paid. Road salt was nearly $99 per ton in 2015.
The contract allows for the city to spend up to $1.86 million to purchase 21,600 tons of road salt from Compass Minerals America in Overland, Kansas.