Ottawa moves forward on agreement to develop vacant area on West Main Street

Repair of downtown ‘hole in the ground’ under way

The Ottawa City Council on Tuesday took a step toward filling what has become known as “the hole in the ground” in downtown Ottawa.

The council authorized the first amendment of a tax increment financing district redevelopment agreement with Simons Enterprise for the property located at 205-207 W. Main St. The amendment moves the start date of the TIF to the full 10 years starting now, as the project had been set back in recent years by COVID.

What the building will specifically be used for is undetermined, but Mayor Robb Hasty added he believes it will be at least partially owner inhabited.

“This is what is endearingly referred to as the hole in the ground, but they’ve finally started construction,” Hasty said. “They’ve already dug some of the footings, have rebar in place and there’s a dug out for the garage. Every day there’s a little more movement there.”

The council also approved the low bid from Scott Contracting LLC of $2,848.447 for the Green Street elevation project. City Engineer Tom Duttlinger described it as a 75/25 FEMA grant project for which all six bids received came in under the estimated $3.4 million cost.

“This is a very slow moving thing,” Hasty said. “I was getting calls about the trees being cut down last March. Now the fact that we’re at the next stage is good. It’s still going to take a while. As Tom said, there are still some utilities to be moved and after that the construction will actually start on it. We may not actually see earth moved on it until next year.”

Also approved by the council was an agreement with Lamar Johnson Collaborative Inc. for design service for the Jackson Street streetscape, including the parking lot to the southeast. The mayor explained the strategic placing of trees and beautification of the area could make future grants more accessible.

Additionally, the council approved a lease agreement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that would provide care for the Fox River pond area located just southwest of Dayton Bluffs. According to the mayor, the Conservation Foundation will work through the IDNR to extend trails from the bluffs in the direction of the pond, which will have the plant life managed in order to expand the park along the river.

In other action, the council:

Approved an extension to the master service agreement with Flock Group Inc for license plate reader cameras.

Approved an agreement with Fehr Graham regarding a phosphorous feasibility study for the current waste water treatment plant. The study would fulfill an EPA mandate.

Approved the purchased of a 2024 Chevy Silverado 2500 Truck from Bill Walsh for the Public Works Department.

Authorized and employment agreement with Aaron Jeras to serve as a part-time electrical inspector.