ROCHELLE — The Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Rochelle Hospitality, LLC that will pave the way for the demolition of Hickory Grove Convention Center this fall or winter.
The Comfort Inn & Suites hotel is connected to the Hickory Grove building and so are its utilities. The agreement will allow the buildings to be “properly disconnected.” The city also decided to subdivide the property so it’s more developable. The agreement makes the property more “linear,” City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said.
Fiegenschuh said the temporary construction easement and land exchange agreement with the hotel will cost the city $250,000.
“We need this to demolish Hickory Grove and disconnect the buildings,” Fiegenschuh said. “I'm sure there will be some more surprises as we go into the demolition and find out what's underneath that facility. But as of now this is the best deal we can get. It protects the city and the hotel operator.”
The hotel will be building a new pool for its guests as part of its plans.
The council amended its Shop Local RMU Credit Program Monday. The program will run with unlimited credits through July 31 and then a maximum of three credits per household will be allowed through the end of the year.
The program has generated $1.179 million for the local economy at a cost of $218,000 to RMU.
Fiegenschuh said his staff spends 25-30 hours a week processing the credits.
“It’s a great program and we want to continue it,” Fiegenschuh said. “But we have to limit it. And everything is reopened now.”
The council unanimously approved an additional $17,500 cost to the scope of its Rochelle Transload Center expansion project due to changes in future use of the RTC.
The original plan was to extend track and land to facilitate a road salt transloading operation. However, an opportunity has been presented to the city to re-establish an intermodal service through the RTC and this would require a change in the plan to modify the existing RTC yard.
The change would include paving the entrance of the RTC and constructing a concrete loading pad to allow intermodal containers to be loaded & unloaded from the RTC track.
“Revenue potential for this project is more than four times what the original project would have generated and therefore the additional $17,500 cost to change the scope of the project is justifiable,” City Economic Development Director Jason Anderson said.
The city unanimously approved a $820,532.75 expenditure for its upcoming stormwater drainage structure replacement project. $165,000 in possible change orders to the project was approved as well.
Fiegenschuh presented Good News awards to Ben Johnson and Jason Underwood, both of Rochelle Fire, for receiving their master of public administration degrees.
The water department was also recognized for its management of the wells in town after issues have plagued them in recent weeks. Utilities Superintendent Adam Lanning and Jay Mulholland accepted the award from Fiegenschuh.
The city and its employees who have made charitable donations out of their checks to the Rochelle Area Community Foundation presented a check for $20,520 to RACF Director Emily Anaya.
“Each gift adds up, and when combined over time, the result is incredibly impactful,” Anaya said. “Each year the City of Rochelle has made goals and has exceeded those goals. This is attributed to the generosity and support of the employees, the hard work and passion put in from [Human Resources Coordinator] Nancy Bingham and the leadership and drive demonstrated by Jeff Fiegenschuh.”