COVID-19 certainly dominated 2020. While the City continued to deliver essential services, we often had to shift how we normally would do business. Throughout a series of statewide COVID-19 mitigations under the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan, which included building closures and remote working arrangements, City operations continued, resulting in many accomplishments. Below are some highlights.
COVID-19 Assistance for Businesses
- An Outdoor Dining program allowed restaurants to use public and private properties during the statewide shutdown.
- The program was modified to allow tents for outdoor dining during the winter months.
- Portions of First Street and Walnut Avenue were closed to facilitate outdoor dining. Signage was placed to designate curbside pickup for area restaurants
- Permit fees for outdoor dining were waived.
- Late-night liquor permit fees were refunded when businesses were closed for COVID-19 mitigations.
COVID-19 Assistance for Residents
- The Fire Department proactively coordinated with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and senior living locations to provide COVID-19 information and coordination with our Emergency Medical Services.
- The City halted utility disconnections and late fees to help residents (and businesses) struggling to pay their utility bill. A payment plan program also was launched to help residents get their utility bills up-to-date.
- Firefighters created new online fire safety/public education videos for schools and remote students to access safety education.
COVID-19 Didn’t Stop City Accomplishments
Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, development pressed on in St. Charles. As of the end of October 2020, 1833 construction permits totaling nearly $72 million were filed. More news:
- The First Street development along the river was completed with the opening of Alter Brewing & Kitchen and their outdoor patio overlooking the river.
- The City purchased the former Manor Restaurant site, which is planned for an extension of the east plaza.
- The City approved plans for a four-story, multi-family residential building on the southern end of First Street, adjacent to the Blue Goose store.
- An update to the Downtown Sub Plan was completed. The plan identifies and establishes a vision for downtown development opportunities for coming years. One potential development opportunity is the former Police Station site at 211 N. Riverside Ave. A Request for Proposal is anticipated for Spring 2021.
- Construction has begun on the long-awaited Audi dealership at the northwest intersection of Randall Rd and Rt 64.
- The City worked with McGrath Honda to facilitate a relocation and expansion of the existing car dealership to the former Mega Center property at Pheasant Run.
- Wahlburger’s restaurant opened in St. Charles on the Meijer outlot property.
- Construction continues on the Prairie Center, the mixed-use residential/commercial development on the site of the former St. Charles Mall. Two residential buildings were completed in 2019 and are occupied, and two additional residential buildings are under construction. Anthony Place, a senior housing development on the site, was completed in summer 2020 and also is occupied.
- In response to expected decrease in sales tax due to the shutdown, the City cut $2.4M from its budget.
- The City applied for and is expecting $1.93M in federal crisis funding.
- The City’s first-ever Popular Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2019 won the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting as awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association.
Public Works Services
Public Works continued to provide all core services to our residents and businesses without having to modify, reduce, skip or cancel any of those services throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
- S. 7th Avenue was resurfaced from E. Main Street to Division Street utilizing $500,000 of federal grant funds.
- Phase 1 of 7th Avenue Creek’s flood reduction project has completed design and permitting and will be constructed in 2022.
- Public Works, Police, and Information Systems staff worked together to implement safety and security enhancements at the five-story parking deck at 100 Illinois Street. Security cameras, signage and a perimeter railing were placed along the top floor of the structure.
- Took advantage of competitive bid pricing to patch 8,648 square yards of asphalt on local streets on the City’s west side, making this the biggest patching program for the City to date.
- 340 Red & Pin Oak trees in parkways throughout the community were treated for Chlorosis, an iron deficiency prevalent in these native trees. This will help preserve them for future generations.
- The Police Department, in cooperation with the Association for Individual Development, secured a cost-savings grant from the St. Charles 708 Metal Health Board to staff a full-time social worker at the new police facility.
- With cooperative funding, the Fire Department, Police Department, and Tri-Com Central Dispatch were integrated into the Starcom radio system to improve communications and inter-operability.
- Scott Swanson was appointed Fire Chief.
Caring for City Workers During the Crisis
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Human Resources Department wholeheartedly invested in keeping our employees safe and well so that they can continue to serve our community.
- As the majority City employees are essential workers, Human Resources led implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols, ensuring access to federal and state resources, and maintaining adequate staffing to serve residents.
- The City retained its Gold Medallion status from the U.S. Department of Labor in recognition of our commitment to hiring veterans.
- As the steady stream of baby boomers retire, Human Resources hired 22 frontline service employees to fill essential positions in public safety, economic development, and public works.