Questions for City Council/Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire
We asked that responses be received by February 15, 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any requested extensions were honored; only Nancy Maxwell requested an extension. The responses are listed in order received.
1. The Arbor District is within easy walking distance of our two largest employers, SIU and SIH, a grocery store (Schnucks), and Downtown. But State Highway 13 flows through it with large numbers of drivers speeding far over the 30 mph speed limit, and speeding is a concern on the secondary streets, as well. In addition, many streets do not have sidewalks, storm drains, or curbs.
What kinds of policies and investments, if any, would you pursue to enhance the safety and walkability/bikeability of this neighborhood?
I’d set a clear standard that streets should primarily be for people, not cars. That “stroads” (not streets, somehow not roads, failing to be an amalgam of both) running through residential neighborhoods should be rezoned to make them livable for residents of that neighborhood. Not only are they ugly, but they’re also dangerous for people. Speed bumps, traffic redirection, lane constriction, and robust cycling lanes could all be employed to make the neighborhood friendlier to residents and pedestrians. There are innumerable ways the Arbor District neighborhood could be a model for robust community building, and I think there are many possibilities the city should explore.
This is a problem all over Carbondale. Before suggesting any policy or investment changes I would suggest reviewing this issue for the entire city to determine where the greatest needs are and then make suggestions.
The City (Police Department) has placed MPH speed monitors along Walnut and Main Streets to make drivers aware of just how fast they are driving as one means to slow down traffic. The posting of MPH by the driving lanes does cause some drivers to lower their speed. If the city had adequate levels of patrol officers, speed enforcement could be a help to deter speeders, but right now the numbers on force does not allow for this activity on a regular basis due to other responsibilities within the city.
Residents of neighborhoods can also submit CIP projects to the City to add and improve sidewalks and curbing in their areas of town. Noting dark areas in certain neighborhoods can be relayed to city staff for consideration of additional street or pedestrian lighting.
Carbondale already has the infrastructure in place to slow down traffic, but it needs to be more heavily enforced. From the west, the large curve prior to crossing Oakland should be a deterrent to speeding, but additional measures may need to be taken including adding flashing lights to areas that have crosswalks like Poplar and University. Also, increased patrol car presence here would help as well. I also believe speed bumps (or humps) would be welcome additions to many of the residential streets in the area. Our property on Maple St has at least one speed bump to get to it and I rarely see speeding cars on that street.
2. How would you address the complex zoning within the Arbor District?
If you are not expert in zoning, what kind of redevelopment would you envision and, as an elected official, promote for the Arbor District and the TIF district it surrounds?
2. Clare Killman
While not a zoning expert, I am well-travelled and am an infrastructure, architecture, and zoning/urban planning enthusiast. The neighborhood should not be so quartered off from the rest of town, as stated in my previous point. Additionally, there are ways of zoning mid/high-density, mixed-use developments and setting ordinances on how that development is implemented such that the cultural capital of the neighborhood can flourish. In my mind, the neighborhood of Five Points in Atlanta or residential neighborhoods in Amsterdam are great representations of what could be possible for a place like the Arbor District with changes the city can make and incentivize. High density/mixed-use development policies are also in the city’s best interest because the taxes they can recoup far outpace detached single family homes, or low-density shopping malls/strip malls.
2. Carolin Harvey
I am not an expert in zoning. I do fully support the TIF district and would let those living in the affected neighborhoods and our expert staff continue to make suggestions about redevelopment.
2. Lee Fronabarger
I would encourage city staff to continue their work to convert more of the rental houses into single-family owner occupied dwellings. If conversion program continues to be popular, would advocate for increased funding for the program. As redevelopment occurs, zoning of properties should be reviewed by city staff, property owners and developers to promote a harmonious neighborhood environment.
2. Justin Zurlinden
Zoning is complicated, but we have a responsibility to not hinder property owners from redeveloping and better utilizing their properties. I believe this looks like having more comprehensive zoning commission projects that would loosen certain restrictions (specifically the rebuilding of similar structures in case of fire or damage which would be otherwise prohibited based on current zoning). I would love to see more properties that have been rentals for the last 30 years be converted back into single family dwellings and invested in by both the city and the property owners through joint programs like the TIF district and the city-funded housing grants.
3. There is a disproportionate amount of crime in the Arbor District. How do you understand the nature of crime in our neighborhood and, as an elected official, how would you attempt to address it?
3. Clare Killman
To build off my previous point, high-density/mixed-use development makes streets and neighborhoods quieter, safer (because there are more people out and about), and more enjoyable to utilize for residents and people coming into the neighborhood to spend money. It would also increase the velocity of the money spent in and on the arbor district by its own residents if a policy of preferential treatment toward business ownership were instituted for Arbor District Residents, incentivizing people to take more of a stake in the condition of the place in which they reside. Beyond that, broadly speaking for the city as a whole, I’d love to see programs funded that can alleviate the precursors to violence including housing instability, food insecurity, and steady, meaningful employment. I am young, and so I do not have a very long institutional memory to bank on related to crime and the Arbor District, but I’m always willing to take the opinions of residents into account before implementing any policy or change in ordinance. The nature of crime and how to solve it, specifically violent crime, necessitates a reconstitution of our relationship to one another. If there’s any effective way that I can effectively accomplish that with policy, I’m open to exploring it.
3. Carolin Harvey
Crime is a community wide problem in Carbondale, not just in the Arbor District. I believe citizen involvement is key to addressing this issue.
3. Lee Fronabarger
Crime in the Arbor District and other neighborhoods in the city are the result of run-down rental properties being rented out cheaply to questionable individuals to gain income for the landlord at the expense of the safety of neighborhoods. Increased street lighting, street cameras in hotspots, porch lighting on residential properties, better lighting in apartment complex parking lots, and trimming back of overgrown shrubbery are some of the measures to improve the residential environment. If residents have video doorbells, educate them on how to connect their video footage with police staff when needed. Encourage residents that if they see something, say something to police. There are ways to anonymously report crimes.
Increased police patrol of problem areas has already taken place and will continue when warranted, but one must remember, the police have a responsibility to the entire city.
Since the Arbor District covers an expanse of area, multiple, smaller units of the Crime Watch Program would be advantageous to helping to reduce crime. Selection of volunteer Block Captains to monitor and educate their block of residents within the District might be a way to engage more directly with residents and maintain their support and interest in the organization’s goals, including reducing crime. Block Captains could become more acquainted with the residents along their street as well, in case of natural disasters.
3. Justin Zurlinden
I believe that crime is a wide-spread issue in Carbondale. The Arbor District has a lot of desirable housing, some of which has been recently vacant or under-rented and is now a prime property for renters to rent. That means that a larger number of renters who may have lower credit or troubling background checks are now living in the neighborhood. I believe that the addition of more cameras and more police patrols is necessary to curb the violence. While these steps are important, they are just a band aid to the problem. We must also work to stop the violence long before it reaches the Arbor District. I believe that supporting programs through local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Carbondale United is a crucial step in stopping the violence. No organization or group of people can tackle this alone, so we must all come together to pool resources, ideas, strategies, and experiences.
4. Do you believe the City has a responsibility to enhance the aesthetic qualities of Carbondale’s residential neighborhoods and business districts? If so, what policies and investments would you promote to improve the visual appearance of the Arbor District?
4. Clare Killman
As somewhat of an aesthete, I feel very strongly on the nature of beautiful landscape and urban design. I feel that there should be strong deference to the impulse to make cities enjoyable to live in and visit. The cultural bastardization that is standard development practice in the United States has only served to ensconce the idea of a successful community as an “everywhereville”, having sold enough of their soul to chain stores that they become indistinguishable from any other city. This does not serve any interest, economic or aesthetic, and only provides low-wage, ultimately temporary employment while instituting capital leakage and hampering the city’s ability to collect any real tax. In short: it’s ugly no matter how you cut it. The implementation of organic forms, organic ways of interacting, an understanding of the rudiments of conceptual design, and prioritizing spatial habitability- not for outside vultures looking to scalp capital, but for residents living in our community- by city officials will ultimately lead to more beautiful looking communities.
4. Carolin Harvey
My support to enhance the aesthetic qualities of Carbondale’s residential neighborhoods and business districts would be community wide not just for the Arbor District. I would not support policies and investments that would promote improvement to the visual appearance of just the Arbor District, I believe this has to be a community wide effort.
4. Lee Fronabarger
The city has already completed a major enhancement of the downtown business district along S. Illinois Avenue through the Streetscape Project. As funds become available, I advocate for additional decorative lighting and landscaping around the town square and along both Walnut and Main Streets running east and west from the core of the downtown.
Neighborhood residents throughout the city can suggest infrastructure projects like sidewalks and street improvements as part of the annual CIP to register those projects on the list of needed projects and worked upon once funding becomes available. The Residential TIF Districts should, in years to come, provide some funds to enhance residential neighborhoods for decorative/improved street lighting and highlighted landscape areas etc.
4. Justin Zurlinden
I believe the city has the responsibility to support enhancements, but not be the sole investor in those enhancements. I think a partnership with the city and local property owners is the best way to work together to improve how our town looks. Specifically, fully funding and heavily advertising the Curb Appeal grant would help encourage homeowners to invest in their properties while also giving them some extra funds from the city for those projects. I do believe that our sidewalks, street lights, and the public built environment should be well-designed, well-maintained, and accessible.
5. Do you believe the City has a responsibility to improve the quality of housing in Carbondale’s residential neighborhoods? If so, what policies and investments would you promote to address the large numbers of vacant, boarded up, and blighted properties in the Arbor District?
5. Clare Killman
Yes. The city has every obligation to ensure that residents have access to quality housing they can afford, that will keep them safe, and can house them with dignity. More robust inspections, harsher penalties for lack of upkeep, reasonable landlord licensure and regulation, housing cooperatives and community land trust investments, and the demolition of dilapidated structures are all on the table as potential sets of solutions to the state of housing across the city.
5. Carolin Harvey
Yes. There are vacant, boarded up, and blighted properties throughout the City of Carbondale. We must focus on a community wide effort to address this problem not just on one area within the city.
5. Lee Fronabarger
The city has the Curb Appeal Assistance Program, Single Family Housing Conversion Program, and the Down Payment Assistance Program which has and will continue to improve the quality of housing in Carbondale residential neighborhoods. If monies continue to run out for these programs each year, I would advocate for increased funding. In years to come, the newly established Community Home Trust should assist in improving the quality of housing in the community.
Also for those residents of the Arbor District who have the financial means, I would suggest a cooperative effort to pool funds to purchase some of the blighted properties to rehab into single family homes and utilize the provisions of the new Residential TIF Districts.
5. Justin Zurlinden
Carbondale is at a critical point in terms of the housing stock, specifically with the rental properties that are available. As a landlord, I understand the frustrations that landlords have with maintaining properties for tenants who do not take good care of the property. I also understand that we have a large number of tenants living in conditions I would never put my family in, so we have a problem that needs addressing. I believe Carbondale has a responsibility to keep the tenants safe by doing routine inspections of the rental properties. In terms of the quality of single-family owner-occupied housing, I believe the best approach is a partnership between the owner and city to improve those individual properties using programs like the TIF district and housing grants.
6. Arbor District residents have noted that some landlords have rented vacant properties for weekend parties, which sometimes become sites of gun violence. What policies would you promote to prevent such illegal rentals?
6. Clare Killman
If that sort of rental agreement is illegal, it should be reported, charges should be filed, and it should be prosecuted effectively such to deter the behavior. If harsher punishment for offenders is warranted, I’d see no reason not to bring that up as a supplementary issue on council.
6. Carolin Harvey
The illegal rentals issue can be addressed through code enforcement. Gun violence however can occur even at legal rentals. The larger problem is I don’t_ _know of any policy we can put in place that would prevent someone from bringing a gun with then to a party.
6. Lee Fronabarger
I would support adjustment of city code which would prevent a landlord from renting out a vacant property for the only purpose of someone hosting a large party. Fines should be assessed to landlords if a weekend party takes place. Residents of any neighborhood should keep close watch for such activities, noting address of property to identify owner and date/hours parties are taking place.
6. Justin Zurlinden
I believe that Carbondale’s restrictions on Vacation Rental Properties are too restrictive and do not promote an excitement to invest in these types of properties in Carbondale. That being said, I am disappointed that more is not being done to police problem properties. We already have ordinances on the books that could handle situations like this, but they are not being enforced (or at least not quickly enough to stop issue from arising). I think that most of the people who would choose to run a VRU would do so with good intentions and would do it successfully with the occasional issue. I think that poor-intentioned VRU owners should be punished for breaking the ordinances that we already have in Carbondale. Long-term, poorly run VRU properties will fail and either sell or become longer term rental properties, but we must keep people safe in the mean time.
7. The Arbor District held a public meeting in January to address the large number of shootings in the neighborhood. The City Manager said he would meet with the Arbor District board, but not a general public meeting.
What do you see as the responsibility of the City Manager and other relevant staff to meet with the public? What policies would you promote to clarify the relationship of City administrators with the public?
7. Clare Killman
Given that these are individuals who are unelected and living off the tax dollars of residents, they are entirely accountable to the residents of Carbondale and ultimately should be at their beck and call. There should be a more streamlined request for attendance with policies in place that ensure mandatory attendance at neighborhood meetings in every neighborhood, meetings with community groups, and beyond- with neighborhoods and community groups filing and coordinating events in advance to ensure the ability to attend of city officials.
7. Carolin Harvey
All relevant City staff should be available to meet with the public.
I think our City Administrators have a clear understanding of their expected response and relationship with the public.
7. Lee Fronabarger
This is an individual’s decision and circumstances change from time to time, so no dictated policy should be made. The City Manager and other relevant staff meet with the public on numerous occasions throughout the year and throughout the city. My question is why would the Arbor District Board not agree to meet with City officials as a start of the conversation. Public meetings can sometimes be counter-productive when misinformation is shared to the public ahead of time and people use social media in an irresponsible way. In checking with other County officials, some of the information shared at that public meeting was inaccurate and misleading and unfortunately did not tell the whole story.
7. Justin Zurlinden
Without having all of the information on this particular instance, I hesitate to comment on it. In general, I think it is most important that the city council be truly in charge of the city (in a broad sense) and that the city manager listens and acts according to what the city council requests. The city manager should be the boots on the ground and the logistics person for the wishes and programs of the city council. To me, it seems that the council mostly listens to the City Manager and acts accordingly, but I feel that is a backwards way to run the city. If the City Manager is all-powerful, then that should be an elected position. If not, then the City Manager has a responsibility to act at the pleasure of the council.
*After reading this paragraph several times, I still don’t like how pompous it sounds. I would be a humble council member who listens to the public and treats people with respect. Explaining the relationship between the City Manager and council is tough to do without sounding “above” people or mean, so I hope that this addition to that answer can clarify my position.*
8. The Arbor District, like Carbondale, is ethnically and racially diverse. What policies, services, and programs can the city provide to bring various groups together to work on common interests? More broadly, as an elected official, how would you address race relations in Carbondale?
8. Clare Killman
Generally speaking, social cohesion in neighborhoods can break down. I think it may be fair to say this is particularly true in the Arbor District at present and is indicative of a more pernicious degradation of social ties in the entirety of Carbondale. Building the sorts of spaces where opportunities for social interaction are more frequent (contact theory in social psychology) and more casual (unconstructed and organic) have the potential to reduce bias against a perceived other and create opportunities to develop knowledge-based mutual trust among residents of any given neighborhood.
8. Carolin Harvey
I think the first step would be for the City, or anyone else, to facilitate meetings that would allow the citizens of Carbondale to determine what those common interest are not just me assuming I know them. Then approach the City about establishing policies, services, and programs that would help to carry out those common interest.
I believe that some things can’t be legislated. As stated above we are an ethnically and racially diverse community. Each of us should try to address race relations individually and collectively. There are many events and activities held within the City that provide an opportunity to meet and get to know people of different races, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds.
8. Lee Fronabarger
First of all, race relations in Carbondale is the responsibility of much more than just the city. Parents, Elementary and High School Districts, the University, Chamber of Commerce, Civic Clubs, and Churches also play a role in race relations. The Human Relations Commission is one example of an opportunity to work together and discuss racial and ethnic issues in the community. The Civic Center provides various sized spaces for groups to meet and host special events for the education and betterment of the city. The Police Department has the 5 on 5 Program to sit down with residents to hear their concerns within the community. The Citizens Police Academy also provides an opportunity to learn more about police operations and responsibilities to citizens. The City has also made strides to encourage the hiring of more minorities on city-funded construction projects. Also, the City for many years, has provided funding to community agencies and organizations to enable them the means to provide services and programs to assist a variety of citizens within the community.
In simple terms, race relations start with each individual and the Golden Rule.
8. Justin Zurlinden
Carbondale diversity in both people and in thoughts is one of the most important and valued aspects of our town. Carbondale has had a complicated past with race, specifically with the disparities experienced by many residents on the Northeast side of town. The leadership of our town must continue to have conversations with residents and guests about how we can heal and move forward. Ginger Rye-Sanders has brought up several times a lack of communication with residents in certain neighborhoods about city projects, grants, and programs. I believe we should be investigating those claims and working together to find solutions to make sure that Carbondale is equitably working to help every resident to be successful where they live, work, and play. It’s complicated and with the events around the country, it is likely to remain complicated, but we have a duty to sit in it…to be uncomfortable, and to listen to the experiences of other Carbondale residents and then work to make everyone’s experiences better.
We provided information about the Arbor District with our questions. That information can be accessed here.