Downtown plaza possibly moving

Adam Larck TimesNewspapers
Trustee Jeff Kaufman presents Mayor Norm Durflinger with a plaque during his final Village Board meeting May 6.

The proposed downtown plaza may be going to a new location.

Trustee Jeff Kaufman made the announcement after a closed session at the May 6 Village Board meeting. Kaufman said private funding has allowed the village to start looking at a new location that is two to three times larger than the current site.

The new site would close Plum Street down between Jefferson and Adams Street east of the former police station, and extend almost to Main Street.

The original components of the plaza, such as the water feature and veterans memorial, are planned to be in the new site, but Kaufman said the original estimated $2.5 million price tag should be reduced because, “the new site would be much easier to develop.”

The plaza committee members will be meeting with the groups in Morton to have a new plan to present to the Village Board before the Morton Pumpkin Festival in September.

“We’re not going to leave anyone out of the planning process,” he said. “This is a citizens plaza.”

The current green space on Main Street will be used by the Tourism Association for the Pumpkin Festival and BBQ Throwdown.

In other news, the board:

• Swore in new mayor Ron Rainson and new Trustee Tom Daab, along with swearing in incumbents Ginger Hermann, Sam Heer, Kaufman and Village Clerk Joe Noel.

Before the swearing in, both trustee Betsy Yarcho and Mayor Norm Durflinger were recognized for their services in Morton and given a plaque.

• Approved a 99-year lease agreement between the village and District 709 that will let the district use the land next to the fire station for a school bus storage area.

In return, the village will get to use the green space next to Jefferson Elementary for the Pumpkin Festival.

The district also annexed 19-acres of land on Harding Avenue to the village for future use.

• Approved a five-year tax abatement for a $5 million warehouse project that’s proposed by Monsanto.

The abatement would have Monsanto not pay 90 percent of the taxes on the land for the first five years.

Even with the abatement, the village should receive $4,500 in new property tax revenue. Monsanto will use the estimated $480,000 it is saving in the abatement to help resolve land issues at the site.

• Approved various ordinances and permits from the village trustees.

The new ordinance regarding filming meetings and public participation at meetings presented by trustee Ginger Hermann was approved.

An extension request by Lin’s Buffet to move the refrigeration unit that currently sits on village property was denied. The unit must be removed from the property by August.

Three plats were approved for the Orchard Hills Subdivision, Fieldstone Subdivision and the Morton Waterworks Subdivision.