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Local

City takes next step in roundabout plans

PD hires three, but are still four officers short

STERLING – After conducting a public informational meeting on plans for a roundabout on LeFevre Road and Lynn Boulevard Monday, the city got to work on making the project happen.

The city's consultants, Mead & Hunt, and City Manager Scott Shumard led the well-attended informational session. They answered questions that ranged from other safety alternatives to financing the one-lane roundabout deemed necessary to handle increased traffic in the area. Much of the increase is attributed to rapid business growth in the industrial park.

After the meeting, the City Council headed to chambers, where members took a step in acquiring land that is needed for building the roundabout. One parcel the city wants to annex and rezone is owned by the Sterling Park District and the other by the Sterling Industrial Development Commission.

The park district and IDC have petitioned the city in support of the land transfers. Both properties are contiguous to city limits. The council voted to send the matters to the Plan Commission. They should be on that panel's agenda for it next meeting, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 in council chambers.

The park district property is at the northwest corner of Lynn Boulevard and West LeFevre Road. Most of the land is occupied by the bike trail which runs north and south through the area.

"It's on the west side of the school trail in Eberley Park," said Larry Schuldt, executive director of the Sterling Park District. "It's a pretty small piece of land that we really don't need for anything else."

The IDC's land is at the northeast corner of Lynn Boulevard and West LeFevre. The only thing on it is the bike path that runs north and south near the west side of the property.

If annexed, both properties would be zoned for light manufacturing.

After evaluating traffic study results compiled by Mead & Hunt, the council approved the roundabout plan in January 2018, and the preliminary engineering designs were completed in September. Plans are for construction, at an estimated cost of $703,200, to start in April and wind down in September.

The engineers are proposing that Lynn be closed during construction, but LeFevre kept open to the business park for the sake of convenience.

Police staffing

Three new police officers were sworn-in Monday, but the department is still operating short-handed.

Bradley Jasutis, Spencer Morrissey and Madison Howard officially joined the department, but Chief Tim Morgan is still trying to plug the gaps.

"The new officers make 25 and we're authorized for 29 sworn officers, so we're still four short," Morgan said.

When Morgan became interim chief in January 2016, one of his goals was to get to that elusive number, but it's a problem that predates his administration. Since Morgan joined the department in 1993, it has been fully staffed for only a 1-week stretch, he said.

Last year, the department had two retirements and another officer left for a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Fire and Police Commission will test the latest group of candidates Saturday. There were 25 applicants this go-round. The testing is done on an as-needed basis.

"Our lists are good for 2 years, and we tested twice last year," Morgan said. "Candidates can test more than once, and often do."

Morgan has told the council that the chronic staffing shortage has handcuffed the department in its efforts to be more proactive.

Next meeting

The City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in the first-floor Council Chambers at City Hall, 212 Third Ave.

Go to sterling-il.gov or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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