By Bob Balgemann, REPORTER

 The three Village of Machesney Park trustees who voted against issuing a bar-boutique liquor license to a business at 7914 N. Second St. did so for varying reasons. It was a 3-3-1 vote, with Trustee Aaron Wilson absent, which was taken during the Oct. 3 Village Board meeting. The tie meant the motion for approval had failed. The occasion was the first reading of an ordinance that would have allowed Big Red’s Hot Slots to have such a license. In response to a request for comments from the Post Journal, Trustee Terri Bailey replied that, first she is not opposed to gaming within the village. “I think in moderation it is a good source of revenue,” she said. Video gaming arrived in Machesney Park in 2012. The Village’s current budget estimates the existing four establishments with five terminals each will generate $144,000 in tax revenue. Trustee Bailey said she did consult with residents in her district regarding the proposed business. “The responses I received confirmed my thoughts that the immediate area where the business was proposed was already saturated with gaming establishments,” she said. Gills Diner is about 250 feet south of the proposed location while Legends Sports Bar and Grill is about 300 feet to the west. Getting feedback from those in District Five, on various issues, is something she tries to do. “I want what is best for my Village and I strive to listen to the opinions of all my constituents and vote accordingly.”

Trustee Steve Johnson, representing District Two, said he also believed the immediate area was saturated with such establishments. “In good conscience, I could not vote for another BB license in that area,” he said. The same went for Trustee Robbin Snodgrass, representing District One. In addition, she said, “The proposed space is extra small and too small to ever sell food.” Big Red’s would have been located in a 930-square-foot space in a two tenant building. In their application for a BB license, owners Michael Rossi and his son, Steven, said no food would be served at first. Later, they said sandwiches and frozen pizza might be available for purchase.

Liquor commission vote

The Village’s Liquor Commission voted 3-0-1 Sept. 19 to recommend denial of the requested license. Trustees Bailey, James Kidd and Wilson voted against the motion for approval with community representative Ike Trickie abstaining. Committee and Board Members are allowed to abstain from voting if they have a financial interest in the particular issue. In Trickie’s case he was allowed to abstain because he owns the building in which Big Red’s would have been situated. Trustee Kidd initially voted against issuing the license. But, he changed his mind in the time before the Village Board Meeting and not only supported it, but authored the motion for approval. In a follow-up interview, he said he talked with some Police in Ogle County and the Leaf River area, near where the Rossis’ existing business has been in operation for more than 10 years. Police reported having experienced no problems with the establishment over that time. “They do give back to the community,” he said. “I thought it was prudent for me to do more research. I have only heard wonderful things about them.”

The Rossi application specified the various community fund-raisers they had held in Mount Morris, location of the business, to benefit local charities. Mayor Jerry Bolin, who’s also the Liquor Commissioner, voted in favor of the request at both the Commission and Village Board meetings. Among the reasons for his support were the applicant’s exemplary record of operating the business, community service and gaming being a consistent source of revenue for the Village.

Machesney Park has four BB licenses, all of which are active, compared with 17 in neighboring Loves Park.

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