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Developer shows interest in Ottawa’s waterfront plan

The city of Ottawa continues to look toward the water when it comes to future development.

Discussions are ongoing about the city’s effort to extend the downtown to the waterfront, a plan that was put together in 2013 and approved the following year, but the interim time has been spent fine-tuning the project at the former Central School site and the surrounding area, which includes a harbor and amphitheater.

“I’m really excited,” said Mayor Bob Eschbach on Wednesday. “This is a wonderful plan but it takes the private investment as well as the public.”

It may soon pay off as the city has been working with CL Real Estate, the same company involved in the Jackson Street and Woolworth building projects, to bring the first portions of the plan to life.

Eschbach said the project will require the work of both the city and private developers.

“And they both depend on each other,” Eschbach said. “No one will spend millions to build unless there’s this wonderful attraction (referencing the harbor and amphitheater) and that can’t be built without private developments.”

CL Real Estate is particularly interested in parcels of land to the north of Central School site, which are currently listed on the waterfront master plan as being future “mixed-use development.”

A more formal design plan will likely be made public soon as the city also works on what sort of agreement it will make with the third-party developer to get development moving.

Until then, the area has already seen some interest from the Ottawa Y, which is considering a new facility at the former Central School track to the south of the Knights of Columbus, 401 W. Main St.

Ottawa Y Executive Director Joe Capece previously told The Times that being a part of the city’s waterfront development plan was a key incentive of the new location and also fits in with the city’s desire of having a “community facility” west of the green space and harbor.

The project is expected to cost around $6 million in total, which includes digging out the harbor and raising the ground enough to avoid flooding concerns.

Decontamination work is also expected to be done just east of the Central School track.

The track was cleaned in the late 1990s after coal tar was likely deposited after the operations of a coal gasification plant decades ago, but the area to the east where the market street is planned will require cleanup.

Decontamination is expected to begin in the spring and continue into 2020.

Other components of the plan such as the conservatory, play area, northeastern hotel and restaurants remain potential future additions if the project is successful and generates increased interest in the area.

The specifics of the plan remain in flux as the city council determines the final specifications and cost-saving changes.

Eschbach said he looks forward to seeing future momentum on the project.

“It’s an economic development driver. It’s not just a pretty thing and something to enjoy,” Eschbach said. “To have that kind of investment is really important.”

“And it’s all a part of the revitalization of downtown and I think it’s an appreciation people are having for downtowns and to get away from the cookie-cutter,” he added.

Jail Blotter 2-21-19

The following is provided by the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, listing those processed at the jail, with their age, day of processing and pending charge(s):

Manuel B. Baez, 24, DePue, Wednesday, hold for McHenry County.

Brandon D. Capell, 24, La Salle, Wednesday, hold for Cook County.

Michael A. Kuster, 39, Ransom, Wednesday, domestic battery.

Mariah H. Miller, 23, Peru, Wednesday, credit card fraud.

Police Blotter 2-21-19

The Times relies on reports furnished by police in our coverage area. If you know of a police matter but do not see it reported in The Times, contact us at 815-431-4050 or newsroom@mywebtimes.com.


Stacy L. Heth-Blackwell, 40, Norway, was cited Wednesday at Columbus Street and Oak Ridge Drive on a complaint of no valid driver’s license. Heth-Blackwell was given a court date.

Dena L. Comer, 40, Ottawa, was arrested Wednesday at Walmart, 4041 Veterans Drive, on a complaint of retail theft. Comer was taken to the county jail.

Lucas P. Waddell, 26, Ottawa was cited Thursday at Norris Drive and Polar Street on complaints of driving while license suspended and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Waddell was given a court date.

Noel E. Hojnacki, 33, Ottawa was cited Wednesday at State and Van Buren streets on complaints of driving while license suspended, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and operating a vehicle with expired registration. Hojnacki was given a court date.


Streator police responded at 5:49 p.m. Wednesday to the 1300 block of East Elm Street for a complaint of battery. Complainant was gone prior to arrival.

Streator police responded at 6:19 p.m. Wednesday to Kroger Grocery Store, 2399 N. Bloomington St., for a complaint of a man stealing two packages of soda. The incident remains under investigation.

La Salle County

Carolyn Horn, 48, Naplate, was cited Wednesday while driving southbound on Route 23 in Farm Ridge Township on complaints of driving while license suspended and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Horn had passed another southbound vehicle and lost control of her vehicle on ice. Horn’s vehicle struck a ditch. No injuries were reported. Horn was given a court date.

Marseilles raises parking fines

Those exceeding parking time limits in Marseilles will discover many parking fines have doubled.

The City Council approved updating its parking fines, raising the fine of many parking violations from $10 to $20.

Those fines include parking in excess of time limit, parking while facing the wrong direction, parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, parking on a sidewalk and blocking an alley or driveway.

The fine for parking in violation of the 3 to 5 a.m. prohibition has gone up from $50 to $100 and fines for parking in violation of snow route regulations and in handicapped zones without a permit rose from $100 to $200.

Commissioner Jim Buckingham went over the new fines with the public. He said they more closely aligned the city’s fines with state law.

Mayor Jim Hollenbeck said it’s another step in the city’s desire to update its entire ordinance book, which started a couple years ago.

He estimated the city’s parking fines hadn’t been updated in about two decades.

Fillebrowne construction nears

City Engineer Mike Etscheid updated the council that the Illinois Department of Transportation and the La Salle County Board are reviewing plans for construction on Fillebrowne Street.

Additional soil survey information is required.

The estimate for the work is around $900,000 with some of that going to replace the water main from Orange Avenue to Gray Street to Fillebrowne Street.

The start date for the project depends on the response of the soil survey and IDOT and county feedback.

“That’s going to be quite a big project. One of our last ones in town that doesn’t have concrete and curbs and gutters,” Hollenbeck said in a meeting in December.

In other business

The City Council:

• Approved tax increment financing surplus to La Salle County in the amount of $170,187.81.

• Learned a Freedom Fest meeting was set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Illinois Valley Cellular, 200 Riverfront Drive. It’s the second meeting for the group, which will approve applications for vendors and special events permit.

• Learned bidding for cleanup at 210 W. Bluff St. will open on Wednesday. The location was declared a public nuisance and was torn down. City officials hope to have the site cleaned up within the next couple of months.

IVCC wind ensemble concert set for March

Illinois Valley Community College’s Wind Ensemble will offer a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in the Dr. Mary Margaret Weeg Cultural Centre. The performance will include the music of George Gershwin, Timothy Mahr, John Barnes Chance, Robert W. Smith, Richard Wagner, Richard Rodgers and Claude T. Smith. Under the direction of Gene Montgomery, the ensemble includes IVCC students, local and regional music educators and community members dedicated to the promotion of quality wind and percussion music.

In the Service: Churney

On Feb. 19, Air Force 2nd Lt. Reese Churney completed missile operations training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. He is now assigned to Francis E. Warren Air Base near Cheyenne, Wyo. Churney graduated from La Salle-Peru High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in criminal intelligence analysis.

Churney, who was commissioned an officer in 2016, is the son of Sheryl and Dan Churney, of La Salle, and Diane and Ron Martin, of Hennepin.

Streator High student wins prestigious NIU scholarship

Northern Illinois University in DeKalb has awarded five students with its Forward, Together Forward Scholarships for 2019, including Emily Schaumberg of Streator.

Funded by gifts from more than 1,800 individuals, the scholarships are awarded annually to students who excel in the classroom, demonstrate leadership abilities in service of others and are highly engaged on campus.

The Forward, Together Forward Scholarships were established to honor the memory of the five NIU students lost on Feb. 14, 2008: Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Dan Parmenter.

Schaumberg made her impact in music. A senior majoring in Music Education, with an emphasis on vocal studies, Schaumberg hopes to bring the same passion she gets from music to others. Her goal is to teach music in a rural area, similar to the one where she grew up in Streator.

“Being an educator can impact anyone’s life,” she said in a press release from NIU. “But to have the career of impacting a community is even stronger.

“I am pursuing this dream because I feel that music has an emotion that can reach people and show that they can come together and create beautiful things.”

Schaumberg felt so strongly students should have access to music that in her hometown she was the youngest member of the Band-Aids, which worked to raise funds to save the music program in the Streator Elementary district.

“It was his job to keep the music program alive for both grade school and high school districts,” she said.

Schaumberg serves as peer mentor and member of the OHANA team at the Asian American Resource Center, to serving as president of her sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda, which she helped expand from a colony to a full-fledged chapter.

“Emily is one of those extra-ordinary students who lives life to the fullest by caring deeply for others and puts this compassion into action. The impact of Emily’s leadership is evidenced in her Midas touch—everything she touches turns to gold,” said Michelle Bringas, director of NIU’s Asian American Resource Center, who recommended Schaumberg for the scholarship. “From freshman to senior year, Emily has made her mark at NIU.”

PHOTO: Ottawa High inducts 2019 hall of fame class

The 2019 Ottawa High Hall of Fame inductees listen to fellow inductee, Tim Jobst, Class of 1969, speak as part of the induction ceremonies at the Ottawa High School auditorium Saturday night. Inductees also were honored during Friday’s basketball game at Kingman Gym. Inductees included: Frank M. Polancic, Class of 1947; Dr. Ron Williams, Class of 1956; Jodi Orsini Barth, Class of 1967; Thomas Jobst, Class of 1969; Dennis Brue, Class of 1970; and the 1999 varsity golf team.

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