Utica seeks grant to build sidewalks south of the canal; approves nano-brewery

Sidewalk construction hopes to launch in 2024

Utica is seeking a state grant to build sidewalks and crosswalks on South Clark Street, with hopes of launching construction in 2024.

Thursday, the Utica Village Board voted unanimously to pledge a 20% match in seeking funds from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Grant Program. If awarded, the village would install sidewalks on the west side of Route 178 south of the canal, along with crosswalks and new lighting.

“I think it’s absolutely awesome that you’re doing this,” said Christy Donahue, a Utica business owner and member of the Utica Business Association.

Village Engineer Kevin Heitz said the project is loosely valued at $1.5 million and state funds could knock down the village’s share to about 40% of the projected costs.

Separately, a divided village board approved Utica’s first nano-brewery – that is, just one barrel of beer – to be located behind the Bickerman building.

Dan Stash got the Planning Commission to recommend approval of “Ginger Road,” the brewery he plans in the ground-floor space behind Bruce & Ollie’s. Stash said he’s a competitive home brewer who wants to try his hand selling product.

The Village Board voted 5-1 to approve a series of measures needed for Stash to open shop.

“I do think this is something a little different,” Trustee John Schweickert said. “This isn’t something that’s going to bring a seedy element into town.”

“I think it’s a unique use for an unused space,” agreed Trustee Jim Schrader.

Trustee Debbie Krizel voted no, believing the village has enough alcohol being sold and served. Krizel further argued space is being disproportionately allotted to alcohol service ahead of other goods and services.

Also, the board sent a petition by Western Cattle Company Factory Outlet, which is moving from Peru to Utica, back to the Utica Planning Commission.

The commission previously approved plans to convert the former Mill Street Market into a clothier and food store. Since then, Western Cattle is dropping the food component – a large enough revision that the village board thinks the plans deserve a fresh look by the planning commission.

In other matters, the village board:

-Announced a fall festival, tentatively set for Oct. 22

-Extended for six months a moratorium on issuing licenses for hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts and vacation rentals

-Canceled the committee meeting, previously set for Sept. 28

-Set Trick-or-Treat hours 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31