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By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – City officials have moved one step closer to what most believe will improve the parking situation along East Menomonie Street, near the public safety building, county jail, and historic courthouse.

Meeting as the Committee of the Whole Monday, May 23, the majority of aldermen present agreed in a voice vote to recommend approval of one of three options presented earlier this month by the Rockford Metropolitan Agency on Planning (RMAP).

Those same aldermen, sitting as the city council, are expected to consider the matter at their June 6 meeting.

Most committee members favored the second option addressed at the meeting, which calls for two-way traffic with angle parking on one side of East Menomonie and parallel parking on the other. That option would create 21 parking spaces.

Improvements, including curb and gutter and 32 feet of sidewalk, would cost $11,609.

The first option would have two-way traffic with angle parking on one side of the street, creating 14 spaces, for $2,230. There would be no curb and gutter, with 16 feet of sidewalk.

Option three proposed having two-way traffic with parallel parking, yielding 17 spaces and 32 feet of sidewalk. Those improvements would cost $1,901.

Mayor Mike Chamberlain said the second step of the second step of the project would create seven parking spaces at 330 East Menomonie St. with curb and gutter and 32 feet of sidewalk for a total of $19,968.

Alderman Ron Brooks, whose ward includes the area in question, said he was looking at the third option.

“I’m not in favor of angle parking in any way,” he said. “I’m all about the safety aspect of this.”

Also May 23, the committee recommended that a resolution be sent to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in Washington, D.C., opposing the proposed route of a new rail line that would go through the Capron and Garden Prairie areas.

GLBT’s proposed 278-mile rail line would start in Milton, Wis., and end in LaPorte, Ind. Its purpose is to bypass the rail gridlock in the Chicago area and speed up the transportation of freight around the city.

Mayor Chamberlain brought up the subject and pointed out farmland in the county, some of which could be affected, accounts for about $386 million of economic impetus each year.

“The overwhelming decision was not to support this route,” he said of the county board and many of those attending the STB public meeting in April at the community building in downtown Belvidere. About 500 were there.

Alderman Dan Snow said he would support a resolution of opposition. “I don’t think it’s in our best interests,” he said. “I don’t see any upside.”

Having such a resolution prepared was unanimously recommended in a voice vote.

While the closest the track would be two and a half miles away from the City of Belvidere, aldermen wanted to show their support for the Boone County Board, which has joined the community in being against the current route.

The STB will decide the fate of the application submitted by Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. (GLBT).









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