COLUMNS

City council did the right thing on Lynnhurst lighting

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

The Peoria City Council made the right call Tuesday night when it approved a special assessment project for North Peoria's Lynnhurst Subdivision by a vote of 7-3.

It could not have been an easy vote, given that the plentiful background information provided to the council was as clear as the Illinois River on a windy day. The information provided was a hodgepodge of enough numbers and history to make one's head swim.

Then there's the fact that now four years after the ornamental lighting project was requested a recent petition shows a majority of residents do not want it. The project has a pricetag of more than $1 million.

In 2004, when the project was requested the pricetag per property was pegged at between $1,000 and $1,100. Today the pricetag is set at about $2,200 per property. Ain't inflation grand?

It is not hard to understand why some property owners are balking.

A lot of things change in four years.

Some people who signed the petition in favor of the project could have died or moved away.

The pricetag doubled. 

Some people who moved in since 2004 knew nothing about it.

Second District councilman Barbara Van Auken had it right when she said, "Neither side is wrong."

But, the bottom line is money has already been spent on the project, perhaps as much as $100,000.

It would not be fair to the rest of Peoria's taxpayers to let the residents of Lynnhurst now say, "Thanks, but no thanks," to a project a majority of residents asked for years ago and the city has laid out money for.

At the same time this does show a fundamental flaw with the special assessment process. If the city is funding projects that go out several years it would be prudent, both fiscally and politically, to re-assess the interest level among residents.

This is exactly why public works director David Barber is right in asking the city to put funds into projects that can be done quickly and taken off the public works project list, rather than setting aside funds for projects for years - unless , of course, we are talking about massive projects like the Pioneer Parkway extension project.    

In the end, at-large councilman Gary Sandberg gave everyone something to think about with his comment: "Special assessment projects are supposed to build neighborhoods, not tear them apart."