Advertisement

Darien City Council votes 4-3 to fund clock tower

With Darien Mayor Kathleen Weaver casting her first-ever tie-breaking vote, the Darien City Council voted 4-3 Monday night to spend more than $160,000 for a 30-foot-tall clock tower amenity at the northeast corner of Cass Avenue and Plainfield Road as a centerpiece of the Heritage Plaza retail development.

Although no architectural renderings have been prepared, preliminary plans call for a heavily landscaped triangle measuring 18 feet on each side. Inside the triangle will be a structural steel clock tower topped with three backlit clocks each measuring 6 feet across.

The project will also provide a fountain or water feature as well as benches, a courtyard featuring brick pavers, areas of colorful plants and shrubs, and a possible misting station for children. The clocks could be equipped with electronic chimes as one of several optional elements of the installation.

The project will be built by the developer of the adjacent Heritage Plaza retail center at an overall cost of more than $200,000, but the city would grant a credit of $163,055 upon completion.

However, the City Council was clearly split on the idea, particularly the timing.

“I don’t know why we are rushing ahead with this,” said Ward Six Alderman Sylvia McIvor. “This is like putting up a fence before you build a house. This is something that should follow, not lead. I don’t mean to be a stick-in-the-mud, but I’m not convinced that a clock tower and a fountain are the best uses for that area.”

City Treasurer Michael Coren—an elected but non-voting member of the City Council—noted that the city had not included the project’s cost in its current budget, which meant it had not properly competed against other priorities to win funding.

“This is not a budgeted item,” he said. “It feels like we’re jumping the gun here.”

However, Ward Five Alderman Joseph Marchese said the project had been the subject of discussion at the committee level for many months. “This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone sitting on the City Council,” he said. “This project should go ahead at the same time as the retail development. It will make this corner stand out” as well as boost efforts to secure retail tenants, he said.

McIvor responded that she favored some type of improvement at that location, but she objected to several elements of the current plan.

“Yes, it needs to be nicely finished, but this structure seems like overkill to me,” she said.

McIvor then voted against the motion to fund the project, and was joined in her opposition by Ward Two Alderman Tina Beilke and Ward Three Alderman Joe Kenny. Marchese voted in favor, along with Ward One Alderman Ted Schauer and Ward Seven Alderman Thomas Belczak. Ward Four Alderman Joerg Seifert was absent.

Weaver’s vote in favor meant the motion carried 4-3. The mayor noted that this was the first tiebreaking vote she had been called upon to cast since she became mayor in 2005. Like most municipalities with a council-mayor form of government, Darien’s mayor can only vote to break a tie.

In other action Monday night, the City Council:

• Announced that the concrete replacement program has been extended through July 31, from its previous deadline of July 3. The program offers reduced pricing for residents seeking to replace their sidewalks, driveways, curbs and gutters, and aprons. More information is available by calling City Hall at (630) 353-8102.

• Reminded residents that the work to rebuild and widen 75th Plainfield Road is a $12.7 million DuPage County project, not an effort undertaken by the city. Roadwork has currently narrowed Cass Avenue to a single lane in each direction from 74th to Plainfield, which has triggered monumental traffic tie-ups as well as angry calls of complaint to City Hall. The project is due to be finished by Thanksgiving, but was only 6 percent complete as of June 27, according to county transportation officials.

• Approved an outdoor seating area for Café Smilga, a restaurant and deli specializing in Lithuanian cuisine and located in a strip mall at 2819 83rd Street from Adams Street to just east of Lemont Road.

0 Comments

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
Advertisement

Modal