Abandoned nursing home will be razed

Morris Lincoln facility empty for past decade

By the end of the month, the Second Ward could be rid of the old Lincoln Nursing Home.

"With the mayor's help and (Building and Zoning Officer) Bill Cheshareck's help, we've been diligently working on it. Tomorrow they are disconnecting the water and cutting off the sewer," said Alderman Julian Houston after Monday's council meeting.

"Within two or three days, they'll start demolition and, maybe, at the first of the year it won't be there," he said.

Houston said it has been a constant battle to keep the property clean and the city has had issues just getting the owners to cut the grass.

The former nursing home is privately owned and has sat empty for at least 10 years. The inside was destroyed by vandals, said Mayor Richard Kopczick.

When Houston ran for alderman, he campaigned that fixing up the old nursing home property would be a goal of his. The building will now be demolished at the expense of the owners.

"That piece of property would be worth more with nothing on it. I think, finally, someone realized that," he said.

The property is located at 916 Fremont Avenue and is about four acres, said Cheshareck. It is zoned Residential-1 for single-family use.

The city council had planned Monday to discuss another eyesore in town as well, but the topic has to wait until next month.

An ordinance to give Kopczick and City Clerk John Enger authority to enter into agreements to purchase a portion of the old Federal Paper Board site was on the agenda, but the paperwork came in too late for the council to take action Monday.

The city will be purchasing the three-acre property for $150,000. It is located at East and Benton streets and has about 1.5 acres with a building on it. The other half is just ground property.

Kopczick said they were expecting paperwork from the current owner last week, but did not receive it until late Monday afternoon, so there was not enough time for the city attorney or the council members to review it completely before the council meeting.

The council is expected to vote on the purchase at its Jan. 7, 2013, meeting.

In other business, the city approved getting its insurance through Northern Insurance Service of Morris. The insurance will cover the city's parks, squad cars, workman's compensation and other city needs.

Enger said the city is saving about $26,000 using the local firm instead of the Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association.

The council also approved its levy and will be keeping the city's 65-cent tax rate for its property taxes. With the estimated decrease of 8.41 percent in the equalized assessed value, residents can expect to see their city of Morris portion of their property tax bill be less, said Kopczick. The total estimated levy for 2012 is $1,738,750.