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Pana Council to pursue campground grant

Tom Latonis Breeze-Courier Writer

(PANA) — The Pana City Council approved measures related to the application of an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant to build a 45-space campground near the boat launch at Lake Pana.

The vote was 5-1 to approve both the contract with Benton and Associates to write the application and to proceed with the project if the OSLAD grant is received. Alderman Tim Eddy voted “no” on both proposals and Alderman Katherine Stephens voted “present” on each.

The grant would hopefully provide $600,000 of the cost of planning and construction. However, the total project has a $1.5 million price tag, meaning the city would need to come up with $900,000 to complete the project.

Suggestions to pay for the city’s portion of the cost included getting a loan, borrowing from other city funds or using the lake area TIF District money, a proposal which passed later in the meeting. Proceeds from the campground would be used to pay down the loan.

Those preliminary plans, introduced by Greg Hillis of Benton, call for charging between $45 and $50 per night to camp. Each of the 45 sites would have concrete pads and complete utility hookup – electricity, water and sewer. There would be no tent camping available and two of the sites would meet ADA standards. One camp site would be used for a campground host and there would be a place to store boat trailers.

Willis emphasized this would not be a year-round campground and those camping would be limited to six nights at a time. There would be restrooms at both ends of the campground with a shower room near the entrance. The street access would be through one entrance/exit, while the roads inside the campground would be both directions. The street inside the campground would be oiled and chipped.

During the discussion, two members of the audience – which numbered about 30 – spoke against the development. Both felt the development would lower their property values and also questioned the condition of the roads leading to the campground. Willis said there would be a buffer zone, but Alderman Steve Scott said it might be necessary to construct a fence along one of the boundaries to protect neighboring properties. But one audience member said the fence would not help with any noise generated from the campground.

The Council also approved Benton and Associates writing the grant application at a cost not to exceed $4,000. The application is due by Sept. 30 to the State of Illinois.

Following a presentation by Keith Moran of Moran Economic Development, the Council approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Tax District for the Lake Pana area. Under the plan, in the geographic area outlined, any increases in Real Estate taxes would be funneled into the TIF to pay for expenses such as infrastructure improvements in the lake area.

It was noted had the program been implemented in 2016, it would have already generated over $80,000 per year in funds. As it is, Moran said he hoped to have all the paperwork submitted to the state and it can take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The roof of the pool house in Kitchell Park is going to be replaced. Cost is $32,975 and the work is being done by At Your Service Roofing. Money will come from the city’s portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money which has budgeted $130,000 in repairs for Kitchell Park.

An agreement between the city and Kuhn and Trello Consulting Engineers of Springfield was approved for engineering of the Lincoln Prairie Trail Bridge Project. Both Pana and Taylorville will split the cost of the contract. Pana’s portion is $4,000.

The city will postpone oiling the city streets on the east side of town this year, due to the high costs of oil at this time.

Two ordinances passed on first reading. One of them authorizes the sale of city property at 202 Park Ave. while the other authorized the sale of city surplus property. Some of the items to be sold include a 1986 International dump truck with plow; a 1997 Ford F-150 extended cab pickup; Ditch Witch R40 trencher; used bicycles; miscellaneous electronic equipment and ONAN generator, to name a few items.

First reading for a Hotel Use Tax for the city was approved. The second reading and approval will come at the next meeting.

Pana Pride was located $3,000 to help replace a “Welcome to Pana” sign at the west entrance to Pana on Illinois Route 29. The sign will also be moved to city owned property near the trail head of the Lincoln Prairie Bike Trail.

Following a 13-minute executive session at the end of the meeting, the Council approved resolutions approving contracts for the Street, Alley and Park Foreman and the Water Treatment Plant Operator/ Supervisor. Both contracts are good through June 30, 2023.

The meeting adjourned at 8:48 p.m. Next meeting of the Pana City Council is Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Pana City Hall, 120 E. Third St.

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