Before Mayor Norm Durflinger announced that he will not run for re-election next spring, he gave quite a bit of insight about the future of Morton.
Durflinger said Thursday during his annual State of Morton address at the Morton Rotary Club that, between 1999 to 2011, the ambulance service has gone from receiving 103.4 calls per 1,000 residents to 155.4 calls.
“Population is a poor predictor of emergency services demands,” he said.
He added that other factors, like senior population, health care facilities and transportation volumes can increase the number of calls.
In the future, he expects the call rate to rise to 226 calls per 1,000 residents by 2039.
Meanwhile, while the fire department recently got the new main station on Courtland, he said the Adams Street substation will probably need to be replaced within three-five years. He estimated the cost of the substation would be between $1.5-$2 million.
He added that a third firehouse will be needed within 30 years. The village already has property on Queenwood and Route 150 for stations, and Durflinger said a station at Queenwood would probably be built first due to nursing home proximity.
He also said that, if a full-time fire department was needed in the future due to declining volunteer firefighters, it would cost between $2-$2.4 million to start. A hybrid department of volunteer and full-time firefighters would start at $1-$1.2 million.
The final emergency service discussed, police, had a station built in 2004 that was envisioned for 50 years of use.
Durflinger noted that 90 percent of reportable crimes are property crimes, with most being thefts and vehicle burglaries. However, only 13.7 percent of Morton residents that were surveyed indicated that property thefts should be the main focus of police.
“We need to realize that we have a problem and we can solve the problem if we turn the key,” he said.
The main crime people said should be the top concern were crimes against persons at 57.1 percent. Primary drug concerns were at 36.2 percent.
He added that there are 22 officers on the force, a number that hasn’t changed in the past 10 years while the number of streets and residents has increased. There are currently 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents.
In the public works department, a new water plant may be needed in the future depending on the growth east of Tennessee Street. In addition, changes may need to be made in the future depending on federal regulations for water treatment and gas management.
Looking toward future growth, Durflinger said that a roundabout may eventually be installed on Queenwood or Tennessee, and a rail system between Bloomington and Peoria, with a stop in Morton, is being discussed by the Tri-County Planning Commission.
Other possible growth includes the development of the wildlife preserve in the trails of Timber Oaks, increasing the number of lanes on Courtland from North Morton Avenue to Commerce and Detroit from Illinois Route 150 to Birchwood to five lanes and possibly adding a bike path to the village once the roads are upgraded.