Historical properties may be zoned for hospital

By Tara Kulash

City Council to discuss grant to rehabilitate old homes, liquor Control Commission to decide on renewal of Ice Box Bar and Grill liquor license

Historical city properties could be torn down for hospital use after tonight’s City Council meeting.

Southern Illinois Healthcare has requested to rezone properties of 112 and 200 Poplar St. from residential to administrative offices in order to expand.


The hospital plans to use the area for a power generation facility and air conditioning equipment, according to the City Council agenda.

The properties that would be removed are on the inventory of potential historic properties and could spark some controversy.

City Councilman Lee Fronabarger said he’s concerned for the lot on 200 Poplar St.

“I hate to lose another historic house like that, so I would like to see at least the front part of the house — the original part of the house — possibly moved,” he said.

Fronabarger said he thinks neighbors of the area will be upset at the loss of a historical structure, so he hopes by moving the house, it can be preserved.

Supporting the expansion of the hospital is important, though, councilman Lance Jack said.

“I’m not a giant fan of eliminating older houses in town, especially those with character, but we’re going to have to talk about the plans that are on the table,” he said.

Another item on the agenda includes the acceptance of a grant from the Illinois Housing Development Authority to rehabilitate old and damaged homes. The grant has been given to the city every year for at least the past nine years, Jack said. This year the grant will amount to $252,000 during a two-year period of time.

Eligible participants are from single-family owner-occupied homes with an income of 80 percent or less of the median family income, adjusted for family size.

According to the agenda, the designated target areas for the grant include Northeast Carbondale, part of Northwest Carbondale south of the Canadian National Railway/Illinois Central Railroad and east of Little Crab Orchard Creek and Tatum Heights.

Justin Cano, a construction worker for David Tuttle Construction in Murphysboro, worked Monday on a house on Allyn Street in Carbondale. He said he’s worked with the Carbondale rehabilitation program for about a year now and thinks it’s a beneficial project.

Some houses require a lot of work, but some only need minor adjustments, Cano said. Most of the services include roofing, siding and putting in new kitchens, bathrooms and floors. He said the projects usually take about five weeks, and he started to work on the house on Allyn Street about three and a half weeks ago.

“It’s been very beneficial for a lot of families,” Cano said. “We come in and see they’re living like that, and it makes them so happy to know that somebody cares and we’re going to fix this.”

The projects also encourage the homeowners to be more involved in their homecare, he said, because oftentimes when he returns to previous projects weeks later, he’ll see flowers in the front yard and other improvements.

“I think it’s a great way to clean up Carbondale,” Cano said.

Besides the City Council meeting, there will also be a liquor control commission meeting beforehand.

One item on the agenda requests a transfer of an existing liquor license from Short Liquors, Inc. to NeeKee, LLC. The Ice Box Bar and Grill is also applying for a renewal of its liquor license for 2012 to 2013.

Fronabarger said the business had some issues with paying state fees, so that will be discussed, but The Liquor Advisory Board met June 14 and recommended approval for the renewal.