THUMBS UP ... to La Salle for having a parking problem, whether perceived, occasional or real, to the east of Joliet Street on First Street. Twenty years ago, the two-block stretch of First Street east of Joliet/Route 351, went through a barren phase. Paul Khoury’s Menswear and Hallen’s Camera shop closed, Tri-City Hardware and Tri-City Furniture had closed, and that building later had a fire that caused a need for repairs. Volk’s tavern and restaurant closed, and businesses such as La Salle’s first Dollar General, Nina’s market, The Dog House and Luscious Moi eventually were welcome additions.
This week, La Salle planning and zoning officials heard concerns that a proposed cannabis dispensary would further exacerbate parking problems on First Street.
There’s no way for us to know how a small number of business owners would have received a cannabis store plan in 1999, since marijuana was illegal until this year, but we don’t think people would have cited parking scarcity as their No. 1 concern at that time.
Parking spaces, through the years, have been precious in certain parts of downtown La Salle, and now, frankly, it’s great to see demand for on-street parking in this two-block stretch.
We don’t know how the La Salle City Council ultimately will respond to the request for a cannabis dispensary in the 800 block of First Street, and we understand business owners’ concerns about receiving a sudden stream of motorists seeking short-term parking.
But the city council will need to be careful about how it handles this decision. If that block of First Street isn’t OK for a dispensary, is another location? If the applicant finds a potential solution, shouldn’t the council listen to it? Before a 4-4 vote, planning commission member Larry Happ said, “I personally don’t want to send out a message out to other businesses: ‘Hey don’t come to La Salle because the parking isn’t too good.”
And we do think the city will need to find a way to create more parking toward the eastern half of downtown.
THUMBS DOWN ... to some of our readers’ cities and villages that don’t post agendas for or minutes from municipal government meetings on their websites. Some cities and villages get it right and provide not only agendas, but also a wide range of meeting documents for residents to see.
Peru, for example, has a website with agendas and a full packet of information available for upcoming city council meetings, plus agendas for committee meetings and hearings. A few city and village officials may think their postings on their websites don’t matter because some of their residents don’t use the internet, or computers or cellphones for that matter.
But it’s not just a luxury for a precious few; it’s a responsibility. We’re not going to single anyone out today, without taking a thorough look at the varying practices throughout the area.
THUMBS UP ... to Jeremy Hillyer and David Hillyer for their entrepreneurial spirit and their desire to revive and reopen Garzanelli’s Supper Club this spring. We’re so excited about the prospect of seeing the magnificent neon sign outside of the two-story landmark lit again, and we’re eagerly anticipating the mouthwatering fare. The closing of the restaurant in late 2016 left a void at the northwest corner of Oglesby along Columbia Avenue, and we’re excited to see a new family willing to carry on a great locally-owned, old-school tradition.
THUMBS DOWN … to unacceptable backlogs. The 2010s in Illinois government were largely characterized by fiscal uncertainly — including more than a full year without an actual operating budget — resulting in backlogs of bills and administrative duties that left state agencies often unable to do even the bare minimum in terms of public service. Things are slowly trending the right direction, but repercussions continue to reverberate, as evidenced by a recent lawsuit in which plaintiffs say they have had to wait three years for their Firearm Owner Identification and gun licenses to be processed.
No government service should take that long to administer, from a gun license to a boating license to a Freedom of Information Act request to a deed recording and so on. The courts will decide the merits of the case. The plaintiffs put the blame on allegedly illegal fund sweeps, the defendant agencies say they don’t have the authority to reallocate the money in question and shouldn’t be held liable. But regardless of the outcome we’re frustrated with yet another reminder of how we continue to reap the results of such gross legislative and administrative incompetence.