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Rey: Public meets to talk 5th Ward issues

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

A public forum was held Saturday at Barb City Manor, hosted by Alderman Ron Naylor. This was a typical “town forum” type meeting with no set agenda. Upon introductions, it was revealed that participants have lived in the community from one year to a lifetime. The audience included single-family residents and landlords. Throughout the meeting, there were about 20 people in attendance.

Good, open discussion covered a variety of topics – from upkeep of properties, garbage pickup, street and alley maintenance projects and housing ordinances. Oh, yes, loose dogs and noise pollution also were topics of concern for the attendees.

Naylor is a good listener and took copious notes with commitment to follow up on matters of concern. This town hall meeting format is an opportunity to gain access to our representative on the council, without time limits on citizen input.

Compliments were given to newly appointed leaders – Police Chief Eugene Lowery, Fire Chief Eric Hicks and City Attorney Dean Frieders were acknowledged by members of the audience.

The city’s garbage pickup contract with Waste Management will be renegotiated in spring. This will be an opportunity to investigate having coupons for trash pickup to equalize the proportion of trash disposed from properties.

Upkeep of single-family and rental properties was discussed extensively. Housing ordinances are under review by the City Council with public hearings scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 19 and Oct. 10. These hearings will be at City Hall. Under review is language in several ordinances, covering:

• Crime-free leases

• Chronic nuisance

• Licensing/registration of rental properties

• Rental property inspections

Concern was expressed about whether the consideration of these ordinances was for clarity of content or procedures of enforcement. Naylor observed both clarity of the language and enforcement are under review. Cutbacks in code enforcement staff have resulted in there being three positions staffed, and electrical and plumbing enforcement are performed through independent contractors.

It was suggested to investigate creative solutions to code enforcement, including forming a volunteer corps of inspectors trained to survey neighborhoods that would report to the code enforcement staff. A database could be maintained to allow enforcement follow-up on nuisance properties.

Loose dogs also are a concern, with a large number of stray dogs handled through the city’s animal control officer. There is an animal control ordinance in force against unleashed dogs and observation of loose dogs can be reported to the police information phone line at 815-748-8400.

There was discussion of the requirement of complainants having to identify themselves. It is important to have this information for follow-up. Confidentiality of complainant will be respected by city staff.

Speeding also was cited as a problem in some parts of the 5th Ward. Prairie Park (Clifford Drive/Glidden Avenue) and Woodley Avenue, along the Kishwaukee River, were identified as areas of excessive traffic speed. A city-owned portable speed monitor can be placed on problematic routes.

Naylor expressed his personal support for the housing ordinances, which he contends will assure quality, well-maintained properties in the city. It is good to see our representative open to receiving constituents’ opinions, as he works to represent them in City Council deliberations.

Thank you, Alderman Naylor, for your service.

• John Rey lives in DeKalb and is retired from DeKalb Ag/Monsanto. He also has been employed with AXA Financial and Family Service Agency. He continues as an active community volunteer in several organizations. You may contact him at jmrey@comcast.net.

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