Utica seeks to beautify north Mill Street

Development to include public restrooms

Utica mayor Dave Stewart poses for a photo behind the tornado memorial on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022 in Utica. Where Stewart is standing, will be a dozen huts that will occupy the space. The gravel lot will also be paved.

Portable retail stalls are coming to Utica – planned for the block damaged by a 2004 tornado – and the village is kicking around ways to beautify the block as a whole.

Mayor David Stewart advised the Utica Village Board that he plans to host an open house in October to discuss ways to enhance the north end of Mill Street and make it somewhat more contiguous with the developed downtown area.

Among the proposed elements are a public restroom and some kind of centralized display. Stewart said the block exceeds the space required for the first round of retail stalls and, thus, needs some aesthetic improvements.

“This is a big area we’re talking about, and we’re only going to start off with 12 stalls,” Stewart said. “We’ve got some ideas out there, and we want to get them finalized.”

The open house is tentatively set for Monday, Oct. 16.

Utica unveils new fire vehicle

Separately, the board moved its Thursday meeting up one hour and adjourned early to celebrate the unveiling of the new firefighting vehicle.

The Utica Community Fire Protection District received a new Pierce heavy-duty rescue truck. The fire department held an open house followed by a “push-in” ceremony. The vehicle – a “toolbox on wheels,” district officials said – was bought for $706,000 in December 2021 and replaces a 28-year-old rescue truck.

Equipment will be moved from the old vehicle to the new one. Additional new equipment will be added. These were bought through grants from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Corteva Community Grant, donations from the Catholic War Veterans of La Salle and fundraising events.

Finally, the Village Board amended the village’s raffle license ordinance to include a $50 fee and to limit “progressive” or multi-week raffles.

Nonprofit organizations would be limited to two progressive or multi-week raffles per year, and there could be only one such raffle at any single time. (The new rules do not apply to one-time events such as tip boards.)

In other matters, the Village Board:

  • Agreed to buy additional holiday decorations at a maximum cost of $8,000.
  • Voted to buy, financed over three years, a John Deer mower at a maximum cost of $110,000.
  • Extended its lease with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, allowing Utica to maintain a portion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, through September 2028.