The overture was grand and exciting, setting the stage for what would undoubtedly prove to be a thrilling conclusion. The show itself, however, was brief and to the point.
Clinton will retain its municipal dock, at least for a few more weeks.
Following a lengthy public hearing, during which several citizens expressed dismay with the potential sale of the dock to ARTCO Fleeting for $6.3 million, the move was delayed. At Large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf moved that the resolution solidifying the sale be delayed until the Nov. 8 city council meeting, a motion carried with only First Ward Councilwoman Maggie Klaes opposing.
Before that decision was made, however, the public was allowed to speak.
Edward Carr kicked things off by saying the value the municipal dock brings to future projects needs to be considered. He said that the Lincolnway Railport, currently under development, would benefit immensely by having city-owned river access nearby.
“(The Railport would) enhance the value of the city’s dock tremendously,” Carr said, later adding “I’d just hate to see you lose that property at that price.”
Ed Krempel, who is a candidate for an At-Large council seat, echoed those sentiments.
“The municipal dock is a unique asset that we can’t replace once we sell it,” he said.
Krempel believes the dock should be valued at closer to $50 million because of its capacity for river access. He thinks that the current lease with ADM should be broken, a process that would take five years, and that other options should be explored for its use.
Krempel also encouraged Mayor Rodger Holm to exercise his power of veto, should the vote for the sale be split 4 to 3.
John Frey, a former city council member, said he understood the consideration to sell the dock, given the city’s financial woes. But he said that such a decision, while beneficial in the short term, could be detrimental in the future. The dock provides river access, an “integral link in the transportation chain,” and would be extremely attractive to potential railpark clients.
“When you’re hungry, it’s tempting to eat the seed for next year’s crop,” he said, later adding, “You have before you an opportunity to make a huge mistake.”
Also speaking were mayoral candidates Ed O’Neill and LaMetta Wynn, both of whom encouraged the council to delay the dock sale. O’Neill said he has ideas for alternate ways to make up for the funding shortfall. Wynn, though she acknowledged that she was not as apprised of the situation as the sitting council, asked for the dock’s retention as well.
“We’ll never get anything like that again,” she said.
The council was originally set to vote on the sale immediately after the close of the public hearing. However, Graf’s motion to table changed the timeline. Graf told the Herald after the meeting that her motion was motivated by a need for due diligence.
CresaPartners Chicago, a real estate firm experienced in dock sales, was contacted by the city to evaluate all aspects of the sale, including the appraisal of the property by Jacobs Appraisals. As of the time of the council meeting, the report was not yet in. Though Graf said she expects the report to validate the appraisal and the sale price, she said it was only fair to the council and the citizens of Clinton to wait until all the facts are available. She believes the full CresaPartners report will be available by the Nov. 8 meeting.
The municipal dock is currently leased by Archer Daniels Midland Company, of which ARTCO Fleeting is a subsidiary. If sold, the funds gained by the city would be used to help other capital improvement projects.
In other action, the council:
• Rejected a change order for $73,215 for the wastewater treatment plant and the Beaver Channel Pump Station.
According to Public Works Director Gary Schellhorn, the change order is necessary to fund a series of computer and IT upgrades that were originally going to be done in house.
However, the city council’s decision on Oct. 11 to trim over $1 million from the budget called for the elimination of the IT department. Schellhorn said that the work would still need to be done, but the city now lacks the personnel necessary.
Council members questioned the cost of the items in the change increase, and ultimately rejected it with Klaes, Second Ward Councilman Mike Kearney and At Large Councilman Mark Vulich voting for the resolution’s passage.