SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council unanimously approved moving forward with one of the most significant tax increment financing district projects left before the city’s only TIF district expires.
The City Council voted, 7-0, during its meeting Monday night to pay a contractor about $20,000 to conduct testing that will help the city determine whether it wants to take the platform that’s at the former Harvester Square site on South Avenue, which is now the home of Blumen Gardens, down to street level. Third Ward Alderman Steve Braser was absent from the meeting.
City Manager Brian Gregory said the raised platform has No Further Remediation status that means the city isn’t obligated to make additional adjustments to the property but requires that the concrete barrier on the platform area be maintained and the property used for commercial or industrial purposes. He said the platform area is reducing the functionality of the property, doesn’t look good and it’s an obstacle for the city to sell the property and return it to private use.
“So the question is how much does it cost to remove the landing, what’s beneath that concrete barrier,” Gregory said. “It could be a million-dollar question – it could be less.”
Gregory said the city would use TIF funds to finance the testing conducted by Geothink LLC.
Thomas Mangan, president and senior geologist for Geothink, said the company previously estimated it would cost between $100,000 and $150,000 to remove part of the platform, which was part of a building that was condemned by the city long ago after it collapsed into the street. He said the testing would be done about 35 days after the release of the contract with the city and the materials found in the platform would help determine the cost of an eventual removal project.
“So there’s either clean fill that can be taken anywhere and there’s fill that might have metal, predominantly lead or other heavy metals, in it that would have to go to a landfill,” Mangan said.
Gregory said the TIF district was established in 2000 to address failing industrial property between South and Park avenues and expires in 2023. He said it currently raises about $90,000.
“I think this is an appropriate use of TIF and, hopefully, the results of the study come back and show it’s within the scope of what our TIF can accommodate, and we can take this step and move this project forward,” Gregory said.