By Steve Capps
For the Star-Gazette
The Beardstown City Council met in committee-as-a-whole Monday to discuss four substantial issues that have recently come before them. Three of those issues involve the possible transfer of real estate from the city to non-governmental entities or private citizens.
The first of these is the recent proposal by Jack Fearneyhough to purchase the existing hangar at the airport that is targeted for demolition according to the FAA plans for a new hangar. He intends to renovate the old hangar and bring in fuel at that facility. He hopes to capitalize on the long waiting list for hangar space at area airports that have fuel now.
Fearneyhough believes the addition of fuel to the airport would fill two hangars with aircraft. The airport engineers are worried the FAA’s plan to build might be jeopardized by his plan. Further they say a fuel station is an expensive proposition that is low on the government priority list.
“Our advice is take the money. Build the building with the plan you currently have,” said Jim Burke of Hutchinson Engineering. “The best option for the city is to rebuild in the existing location.”
Fearneyhough told the council, “If this doesn’t fit with your plans, I would not be interested in purchasing a dismantled hangar to rebuild at a different location. I would, however, be interested in leasing ground to build a new construction.”
According to Burke the current plan includes privately developed “executive hangars.” He said that the specifics would have to be worked out with the FAA but those plans should not interfere with the federally funded project.
Next the council discussed a property swap proposed by Don Large last month. City Attorney Luke Thomas advised the property on Wall Street that Large is seeking must be advertised for bid before it can be sold or otherwise transferred. He noted that a prospective bidder could offer real or personal property as part of that bid.
The third property discussed by the council is the empty lot across from the glove factory. The Elks have expressed interest in that lot. The council decided to put both properties up for auction by sealed bid.
The final topic of the evening proved to be the most controversial. The council took up discussion of the new ordinance proposed by Mayor Steve Patterson establishing a first offender program.
Lori Hance of the Cass-Schuyler Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition fears the law, if enacted, may undermine much of the hard work and accomplishments of that organization. “I’m afraid it sends the wrong message to young people,” she said. “These kids will seek out Beardstown (for illegal activities) because they think they won’t send them before a judge and they won’t lose their license.”
The city attorney pointed out that the fees for participation in the program are just as high as the same crime would be fined in court. He said that unlike court, this program will include an aspect of mandatory education. No action was taken on the issue as the council indicated they needed to do further research.