The Pekin City Council on Monday approved, in a 7-0 vote, spending up to $600,000 on the study and design of the Front Street project on the city’s west side.

The project was tabled at the Council’s Aug. 14 meeting at the request of Councilman Mark Luft. He said then that the Council needed more information about the project before spending $600,000 for services from Hanson Professional Services. The project would extend from Fayette Street to Distillery Road.

Before voting yes on the project, Luft on Monday originally asked that the project be tabled again. Luft said the Council has received a lot of feedback on the issue, and he said the Council should “see everything up on a chalkboard before a decision is made.” He said he is not trying to shoot down the project by tabling it.

“One of the things I’m concerned about is we have to be a lot more creative with our resources these days,” said Luft. “When you get up to those kind of numbers like $600,000, I think it’s important to take a look at everything.”

Luft said he looked back at the Asian carp plant study conducted in 2015 by University of Illinois Business Consulting School graduate students that cost $7,500. Luft suggested that the city again hire students to conduct the study. He added that the Council should not approve any funds until it knows where it stands with state and federal grants for the project.

Councilman Lloyd Orrick was concerned with the idea of using students — asking if a licensed engineer is needed. Hanson Vice President Cindy Loos said the engineer would have to be licensed with the state to sign plans for the project. City Engineer Mike Guerra said an engineer also has to be pre-qualified with the state to do road projects. Students would not be.

Loos said the project would be “shovel ready” once the design phase is completed. Projects that are shovel ready are typically given priority for grants.

City Manager Tony Carson said that the federal and state grants the city is hoping for may not be around if the city keeps postponing the project.

Councilman John Abel said it would be “very unprofessional” to change firms now when Hanson had done all of the preliminary work for the project. He said the costs go up for projects each year that the city waits. He said the costs are not excessively high for the type of project and work involved in the project.

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