Janesville52.4°

Friends group asks council for help

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
August 12, 2008

Janesville City Council President Amy Loasching will act as a liaison between city staff and Friends of Riverside Park after a parks representative said the group finds it difficult to get approval from city staff for beautification projects.


Pam VanBrocklin spoke Monday during the council’s monthly listening session.


“Since the Friends have been together, we’ve really struggled being able to do small beautification projects in the park,” she said.


Projects include clearing scrub from the hillsides and beautifying the boat landing. The group raises money for its projects and donates labor.


VanBrocklin said no clear process exists to get approval from the parks department.


Councilmember George Brunner suggested a good way might be to simply make the request in writing to the parks department and send a copy to the council.


Loasching said she will act as liaison until a process is developed.


Loasching said she previously spoke with staff about the issue, and staff told her they hadn’t heard of some of the projects the Friends have planned.


-- Al Lembrich appeared and spoke against a proposal to build a children’s museum.


“We aren’t able to take care of what we’ve got,” he said, including mowing parks and supporting the city’s existing museum, the Tallman House.


He didn’t think raising money would be an easy proposition, noting that donations are down all over.


Lembrich also said there are other children’s museums nearby.


The museum could cost anywhere from $5 to $7 million. The council meets tonight in a study session to discuss its options.


-- Steve Trueblood suggested the council spearhead an effort to turn the vacant General Motors plant into a research facility for alternative fuel sources. General Motors has said it will close the plant by the end of 2010.


Trueblood estimated a facility could cost $24 billion and suggested that the council start with the state’s representatives and senators.


At its meeting after the listening session, the council:


-- Approved TIF agreements with LiquiPur Holdings and SYNC Development Corp. that will result in a $20 million investment and 90 new bottling jobs. LiquiPur specializes in liquid beverages.


-- Authorized City Manager Steve Sheiffer to spend money to hire a consultant who is creating a proposal to present to General Motors in hopes of retaining the company here. Any requests for incentives would come back to the council for approval.



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