Springfield IL City Council on Tuesday approved a crime reduction tool

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Two resolutions – one implementing license plate reader technology and the other securing funds for an 1850s house with significant historical value to the black community – received support from Springfield City Council in very different ways on Tuesday.

A Springfield Police Slideshow on integrating technology that some board members saw earlier has appeared to influence in some cases and strengthen support in others for the two-year contract that will take effect early in the year. ‘next year.

In the case of granting funds to the Springfield Project to begin stabilization work on the John Wickliffe Taylor Home in 12th and Cass streets this was the ongoing process, a 40 minute discussion that led the aldermen down different paths to find an innovative solution.

See also: Tony Libri seeks to keep a “historic vibe” in the development of the former Benedictine campus

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Dominic Watson, who oversees both the Black Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Project. “We are closer to ensuring that we preserve one of our historic gems in the minority community, the black community in particular. We want to uphold property rights and honor the legacy of the Ambidexter Institute. We want to increase the value of the property in this area. “

The institute, which trained black children in math, science and trades at home in the early 1900s, was modeled after Booker T. Washington. Tuskegee Institute.

The building has been vacant for almost two decades and the $ 217,720 demanded by Watson was seen as a first step in the stabilization process, especially with the onset of winter. Estimates for the total federal-style home redevelopment were around $ 1.5 million.

Watson first approached city council about the Incremental Tax Fund (TIF), but as the discussion grew, Ward 4 Ald. John Fulgenzi suggested that the money be taken from a fund for economic development projects in the east of the city.

The fund was created after city council imposed a 3% local tax on cannabis sales, the maximum allowed by state law. The tax was added to the city’s regular sales tax.

Council members then found a compromise, proposed by Ward 9 Ald. Jim Donelan, to take two-thirds of the “cannabis fund” while taking one-third of the cost of TIF from the Far East.

Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory said as long as Ward 2 and Ward 3 can still execute an owner-occupied redevelopment game plan as well as a business assistance program, he was okay with the plan.

“I thought we could have used the TIF and I thought we were following all the rules and I thought we had heard that tonight, that we were under the TIF law,” said Gregory. “We went to the table and we were innovative and we pieced together some things to make everyone feel comfortable.”

Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin provided the only “no” vote.

“We can preserve the history of this building in other ways than what we have done tonight and this money should be better spent on 50 new roofs in these neighborhoods or 50 new furnaces in these neighborhoods or 50 new weather guards. (projects) “, McMenamin mentioned. “This is how I think the city had better spend the money.”

During the meeting, McMenamin questioned the structural nature of the building after seeing it earlier, but Gregory said he didn’t think it was in “as bad shape as we’ve heard it said. “.

“We don’t want to do anything to disrupt the natural state of it because we want to have a chance to get historic state credits that would pay 45% of the total cost, so we’re in really good shape. is why we really didn’t want to use a replica. “

Although he only got into the project a few months ago, Watson said the Springfield Project presented itself as “good stewards and good partners. We will take advantage of the opportunities and make it a gem.” .

In the long run, Watson sees a blend of tourism with the opportunity to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programming off-site.

A partner who has shown interest in the Taylor House is Route history, a museum and visitor center at 737 E. Cook St. that partly sheds light on stories surrounding the Black experience on historic Route 66. The Ambidexter Institute has long been a topic of discussion on the history of the road.

“Accept technology”

Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow said on Tuesday that police departments should "adopt technology" in the fight against crime.  Springfield City Council has approved a two-year contract with Atlanta-based Flock Security to install 83 license plate readers in the city, an important crime-fighting tool, Winslow said.

Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow said the use of LPR in the city would complement another technology officers have, ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system, as a way to fight crime in the city. the city.

The plan would be for Atlanta Herd safety to start installing the 83 cameras around February 1. It would probably take four to six weeks, Winslow said.

Earlier: Springfield City Council plans to vote on installing license plate reader technology

The data would be able to identify the make, color and type of a vehicle as well as the license plate, Winslow said.

The cameras will go to key intersections in the city, he said, as well as major “choke points”.

Although Flock Security and ShotSpotter are not integrated, “they depend on each other,” Winslow said.

“If we know there was gunfire from Fifth and Monroe at 4pm, I can check LPRs within two blocks of that window,” he said. “If I have a car description, I can specify it further.”

Winslow called Flock a “(police) force multiplier”.

“If you add the two technologies together, it costs about $ 415,000 per year. That’s 3.8 agents for us,” Winslow explained. “I can’t even put an officer on every shift. When I see the value of having someone there 24/7 for my eyes, that would be what LPR is, or 24/7 for my ears, that’s what the ShotSpotter is, for me, a no-brainer to go with the technology. You have to embrace the technology.

This story will be updated.

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.

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