< Sam's Blog

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I introduced legislation last month requiring owners of vacant registered properties to fix them quicker.  Under a new law I co-sponsored in 2011  registered properties now have to be brought up to code or demolished within 3 years.   Before that there was no limit on how long a vacant code violation property could be registered.  

 What I have found under the new law, however, is that registered property owners often wait till the end of the 3 years to do anything.  That's human nature.  Under my proposed ordinance No. 2015-116 the 3-year period for newly registered properties would be shortened to 2-years in 2016, and then to 1-year in 2017.  However, the registration period could be extended by the Public Works Director in 3 or 6 month increments up to a total of 3 years if the owner shows actual progress being made in correcting the code violations or other defects that required the property to be registered.  

Under my proposed ordinance owners of vacant registered properties could no longer wait till the end of the 3 years to get to work.  In 2016 they would have to get started in 2 years and in 2017 and thereafter in 1 year.  If they legitimately needed a total of 3 years to finish, they could still get it.  But in most cases, once started, the work will be completed much sooner, and the abandoned homes will become occupied dwellings in our communities instead of the eyesores they are now!

The current law on registered vacant properties and even my proposed legislation will only work to speed up the fixing up of distressed properties if the owners really care about their properties.  Unfortunately many property owners in older neighborhoods don't care.  

That's where the Enos Park Development LLC (Limited Liability Company) comes in.  It has the ability to buy up blighted properties, maintain them and ideally sell then to a new owner, who will turn the property around.  In some cases however, the properties are so far gone, they must be demolished, and the LLC has paid for some demolitions.  

The LLC gets its ability to buy properties from Enos Park TIF funds that are appropriated by the City Council.  Since 2011 I sponsored or voted for ordinances appropriating $1.26 million to the Enos Park Developmnnt, LLC.  Most of this money was used to acquire more than 70 problem properties, including the former tavern on 8th & North Grand that the LLC hopes to use as a store for valuable items that are removed from houses before they are demolished, such as doors or posts.  

 I have also sponsored or voted for other ordinances appropriating a total of $4.26 million of TIF funds for improvements in Enos Park, since 2008, much more than any other neighborhood.  One big project those funds paid for were the historic street lights that adorn our neighborhood.  I am working on using Enos Park TIF funds to remove the asphalt covering the brick on Enos Street, restoring the street to how it looked at the turn of the century.  Enos Park is a truly historic neighborhood where giants of history, like Abraham Lincoln and Elijah Isles walked and rode their horses.  The more historic we make our neighborhood look, the more attractive it will be. 

The Enos Park TIF was created December 16, 1997 and has a 23 year life, meaning we have until December 15, 2020 to  reap the benefits of this great institution.  After that, the State Legislature can extend the TIF for 12 more years, or a total or 35.  That is what happened with the downtown TIF and that is what I will be working for.  I have already talked to state legislators, who told me they are in office in 2019-2020, they will sponsor the bill to extend the Enos Park Tif
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Two important environmental events take place in April.  A Household Hazardous Waste Collection will occur on Saturday, April 11th from 8 a.m. to 12 noon at the Fairgrounds.  Enter Gate 11.  They will be accepting items such as used motor oil, paint thinners, antifreeze, household batteries, pesticides, lawn chemicals and more.  For a full list of what will and won't be accepted go to Springfield Public Works -Recycling

On Saturday April 25th don't miss the 23rd Annual Earth Day in Lincoln Park from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. and accept the Zero Waste Challenge.  Finally, don't miss your once in a lifetime chance to participate in the Lincoln Funeral Re-enactment May 1 - 3.  For more information go to The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition