Citizens who attended the first meeting of the Northwest Neighborhood Association Monday expressed concern that the Oakland Auto Repair business might lower property values and that the National Guard Armory could loss value if it isn’t sold soon.
About 50 residents of northwestern Carbondale formed an organization to unite the residents of the area of Carbondale west of Highway 51 and north of Main Street.
After adopting bylaws and electing a slate of officers, the members got to work establishing their priorities.
One of the group’s priorities was to address citizens’ questions about the Oakland Auto Repair shop at the corner of Oakland and Pecan streets, which opened in December.
Adam Loos, president of the association, said the city issued a permit allowing the old warehouse to be used as an auto repair shop, although that area is zoned residential and that type of use is not allowed. The city later rescinded the permit, he said.
The city has been working with the owner of the auto repair business to relocate, he said, but they still haven’t found a suitable location.
Loos said some of the repair shop’s immediate neighbors are worried about their property values declining.
City Councilman Lance Jack attended the meeting and said opening an auto repair business in the old warehouse was a better use of the building than continued use as a warehouse.
He said it was more beneficial to the neighborhood to have a responsible client operating a 9-to-5 business than to allow someone to use it as a warehouse, with the possibility of pick-ups and deliveries made at all hours of the day and night.
Loos said the formation of the association evolved from a meeting held in January after the proposed sale of the historic National Guard Armory building was announced.
A steering committee had met several times in the interim to establish the bylaws and agenda, he said.
“The Armory is a historic building and we don’t want to see it deteriorate,” Loos said.
He said the state had received several bids after the “For Sale” sign went up in December, but there was still no word about a pending sale.
Loos said his neighbors are concerned new owners might want to use the building for a business that won’t fit in to a predominantly residential neighborhood.
He said if the eventual Armory owner requested a zoning variance to accommodate a business, the association wanted to be prepared with an appropriate response.
“We’ve looked into the kinds of zoning modifications that might be acceptable,” he said. “We’re hoping whoever gets it wants to be a good neighbor.”
Patti Diggle, treasurer, said residents in northwest Carbondale are concerned about the future of their neighborhood and the association is a means for people to work together to solve problems, such as petty crime and
“We want to connect people who share the same concerns,” she said.
Yolan Presley, vice president, said people can volunteer to serve on a committee than suits their interests, such as disaster preparedness planning, crime prevention programs and events to welcome newcomers.
Her husband, Bob Presley, said the armory building could be a tremendous asset to the neighborhood, but that it could become a detriment if not maintained.
“It’s nice for the neighborhood to come together,” he said. “That way, we can guide our growth better.”
Bridget Walsh, a long-time resident of the northwest area, said she attended the meeting to help create a better neighborhood.
“There’s a momentum building up in the neighborhood to take care of issues,” she said.