Arbor District residents question city leaders on selling of old - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Arbor District residents question city leaders on selling of old fire house

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CARBONDALE -- Frustration and confusion mounted for people in one Carbondale neighborhood. Many said they don't like the way the city has handled the selling of the old fire station on South Oakland Avenue.

A spokesperson for the Arbor District said city leaders have kept too many secrets on the future of the building.

Over the last 3 years, the old Carbondale fire house on Oakland Street has sat vacant.

"This building is the anchor for the Arbor District," said resident Jane Adams. 

City leaders are now looking at finally selling the property in an older part of town.

"People have wanted a neighborhood pub down here and somewhere in this area that we could walk to," Adams said. 

Adams is also the secretary for the Arbor District Association. She said she and several others in the district liked what resident Joshua Klarer and his father and business partner, Mike Klarer, proposed to city leaders.

"My goal is to purchase this property for the city and develop a farm-to-table restaurant and [I] want to include a full bar with options of different tap options from every other brewery from around the region," Joshua Klarer said. 

Two proposals were submitted, but Adams said city leaders won't tell residents anything about the second proposal. According to Tuesday night's agenda, the city has already negotiated a contract with the other developers.

Mayor Mike Henry said the council discussed both proposals in executive session, and by law, they're not allowed to tell residents the details.
"If the other individual had decided to share it with them, I assume that would have been okay, but as far as us releasing it, my understanding is we can't do that under the closed session rules," Henry said. 

The other developers, John Deas and Allison Smith, told News 3 they hope to provide work space for artists.

"Our redevelopment of the Fire Station will encourage artists to stay in Carbondale by strengthening a sense of community in these creative circles, offering inspiration through the work of others, and providing wood shop and studio space resources to help artists continue to make work locally," wrote Deas in an email to News 3.

Klarer said he is willing to pay the asking price of $82,000, but according to the agenda, the other developer is purchasing the property for $50,000 - $32,000 less - a point that raises concern for Adams and the Arbor District residents she represents.

"Why is this all being done out of public view?" Adams said. "Even when the council has decided what it is they want to do, they won't show us the proposal."

Mayor Henry said leaders went with the proposal they believe is a better fit for the area.

The council meeting starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

Adams, Klarer and others from the Arbor District plan to be there to voice their concerns. Klarer said he just wants a chance to be heard.

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