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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • 'There is going to be a plaza'

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  • Mayor Norm Durflinger reassured Morton residents on Feb. 4 that there will still be a downtown plaza in Morton, it just may not be the original idea presented.
    "Everyone needs to understand that there is absolutely no intent, based on all the individual discussions with the members, that there will not be a plaza," Durflinger said. "There is going to be a plaza."
    At the previous meeting, the board was presented with a proposed plan for the plaza that had an estimated cost of $2.5 million, not factoring in maintenance or some other fees. The cost is what has board members now looking at alternatives.
    "I think everybody here supports the plaza, but talking to citizens I think there is a concern about the cost right now," Trustee Jeff Kaufman said.
    Kaufman is now heading up a new subcommittee that will look at finding ways to save money with the plaza, as well as looking at a new plan that is less expensive.
    Durfinger said that a new plan is being looked at for cost-effectiveness, not because of the look.
    "I personally like Mr. Brown's plan," he said. "I think it's fantastic."
    Trustee Randy Belsley noted that the proposed budget for the plaza currently sits at $2.5 million, while the largest capital improvement project for Morton this year will cost $800,000 with an overall budget for the yearly projects at a little over $2.5 million.
    Durflinger restated that the money for the plaza will come from the business district tax fund, which has a budget of about $300,000 a year.
    Of that, he said $100,000 is already designated for use. The board will face a choice in the future on spending a larger amount of money and possibly wiping the fund clean for six-10 years, or finding other ways to pay for the plaza.
    "Just because it's business district funds doesn't me we can blow that money," Durflinger said. "That's your money."
    Before the board's comments, several community members voiced support for the downtown plaza.
    During the comments, several residents offered support for the plaza in any way they could give it.
    Teresa Blunier said that the plaza would give moms in the community a place to meet and socialize while children play.
    "We really need some place that the mothers with small children can bring their kids to hang out for a while and moms can talk to each other because we really need that support system," she said.
    Meanwhile, Aaron Miller, representing the relators of Morton, said that younger families are looking for parks or other centerpiece features that draw families together to socialize.
    After the comments, the board approved the transfer of a liquor license and an updated plumbing code that makes the case when an inspection is needed more specific.
    Page 2 of 2 - The board also approved the auxiliary police payroll and overtime for 2012 from community events.

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