Concept A for Eagle View Park. (Photo courtesy of Bloomington Parks and Rec)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012:
After seven years, final design plans have been shown to supporters of a planned Eagle View Park on Bloomington's far east side. In Bloomington, parks can be a tricky thing. Gaelic Park, for example, finally opened last summer after more than a decade in development, due in part to reluctance among aldermen over construction costs. Eagle View Park is now nearing the finish line as well. When aldermen approve their Fiscal Year 2014 budget next March/April, will there be money there for the park's construction? The park will cost over $1 million when completed, but the city has a $400,000 grant that could be used before the end of 2013 to help fund construction."I hope to see that the city council embraces the idea of the park," Peggy Miles, project supporter and nearby resident, told WJBC. "We've been waiting for seven years, it was in the original plat diagrams when the neighborhood was created. We've been waiting a long time for this and I hope it gets approved in the budget."
City of Bloomington officials put out word Tuesday that they're trying to stop the use of campaign signs on public property, a problem that seems to inevitably pop up once or twice just about every election cycle. "We are asking staff to pick those signs up if they're in the right-of-way and we're taking them down to the Public Works yards where we'll keep them and you can come down and collect those," Huber said. (FYI: The right-of-way includes from the sidewalk to the curb, and it's illegal to put signs on public benches, telephone booths, fire hydrants, traffic control boxes or utility poles.) The big question for me with yard signs is do they really work. (Someone, anyone, with a link to an academic study on the question, please email it to me.) Yard signs -- the struggle to protect your candidate's signs, the fight to keep your opponent's off public property, etc. -- tend to be just a placeholder for the larger game of tug-of-war going on before an election. But because there's typically no polling done in these local races, any measurement we can get on a race has inflated value.
The third-party presidential candidates got together Tuesday in Chicago for the first of two debates, this one moderated by former CNN host Larry King. Buzzfeed's John Stanton has a snarky look at the field and King's moderating style, such as when King tried to steer back the field to the topic at hand -- narcotics and the law. "We’re on drugs. We’re on drugs," King said. In all seriousness, the Libertarian, Constitution, Green, and Justice party candidates raised some interesting points that are, of course, side-stepped by the two biggies. They discussed making public higher education free, and legalizing some drugs (totally agree). Libertarian candidate former Gov. Gary Johnson had the best (legitimate) idea: President Obama and Mitt Romney "should be required to wear NASCAR-type patches on jackets," identifying their campaign contributors.
Nona Tepper with the Peoria Journal-Star does the math on the first anniversary of the Bass Pro Shop opening in East Peoria. Specifically, Tepper looks at whether East Peoria's decision to pay $45 million for construction of the store (through bond debt) was a good investment. (The store is paying rent and ponying up 2 percent of its yearly gross sales in return.) It's a 20-year lease, so all the evidence is far from in, but it's an interesting issue to look at for Bloomington-Normal, which might some day face a similar choice. City official Tom Brimberry tells the Journal-Star that Target and Costco have also signed agreements with the city since Bass Pro opened. "It's a destination. People actually come here to visit," he said. "It's unique, there's only 57 of those in the world."
The USDA teamed up with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association to do a statewide census on the status of Illinois' wine industry. The study found that wine production in Illinois has increased by 16 percent over the past five years from 564,270 gallons in 2006 to 651,800 gallons in 2011. The census also found that the number of wineries in the state has increased by 36 percent over the past five years from 77 wineries in 2006 to 105 wineries in 2011. That's some impressive growth. “We figured it might be flat or down a little, so there was some surprise given the state of the economy,” said survey researcher David Ward with the National Agricultural Statistics Service of USDA in Springfield, according to the Springfield Journal-Register. The IGGVA also says the future is bright: current capacity to make wine stands at just over 1 million gallons. Over the next five years, that capacity is expected to double to nearly 2 million gallons and over the next 10 years capacity is expected to increase to nearly 3 million gallons.
Ryan Denham can be reached at email@example.com.