Springfield Y-block proposal stopped in Committee as labor union members oppose

Hundreds made it out Tuesday night to the Springfield Committee of the Whole meeting, with all eyes on what will happen with the Springfield Y block. (WRSP)

Hundreds made it out Tuesday night to the Springfield Committee of the Whole meeting, with all eyes on what will happen with the Springfield Y-block.

In the end, the ordinance was tabled, which means the mayor’s Y-block recommendation will not move forward to city council next week. It will take seven aldermen to vote to get it out of Committee, instead of the usual five votes.

Over 200 local labor union members were at the meeting. Brad Schaive, the Business Manager of Laborer Local #477, said they want the Project Labor Agreement to be a part of the Y-block contract, which would guarantee a local workforce. He said they are not okay with how the proposal, as is.

The mayor said he had PLA in the original contract he put together, but said it was taken out by the developers: The North Mansion Block Group.

The group is led by Springfield attorney Don Tracy and backed by Governor Bruce Rauner, who plans to sponsor donations to the development.

That Y-block proposal includes a green space and a water oasis area that can turn into an ice skating rink in the winter season. Schaive said instead, they should have something that will forever generate finances and jobs for Springfield.

"We need to have something,” said Schaive. “In a location like this, that has a financial impact on this community."

Ward 1 Alderman Chuck Redpath initiated the motion to table the ordinance. This prompted applause from the union workers.

“We're going to move forward as a non-partisan city,” said Mayor Jim Langfelder. “We're not going to have this project divide our city because we're one city. And so, what I’m looking for as mayor is what can bring our city together and really change downtown."

Some concerns from aldermen include from Ward 8 Kris Theilen talking about the condition of the trees and the fear of blight. Ward 9 Alderman Jim Donelan said he hopes the plan is flexible to which the architect, Peter Wirtz, from Belgium, said it was.

More conversation is expected including talk about whether the contract can add a P.L.A. clause, which would keep workers local.

The mayor said he is open to change with the terms of the Park lease but plans to stick with the park/oasis proposal.

Also at Committee of the Whole, the Lincoln Land Charity Championship asked for $30,000 for local marketing and promotions for the Web.com Tour.

Alderman Doris Turner said it can be challenging because of the financial situation of Springfield. The funds would come from the Hotel/Motel budget.

Lincoln Land responded saying aldermen should look at the bigger picture of job creation and the generation of city revenue with this tour. The ordinance was voted into next week's city council’s debate.

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